How Do You Have a Public Defender Attorney Appointed to You?


Quick Answer

A public defender is appointed by a judge when he determines a defendant cannot afford to hire an attorney on his own, according to Lawyers.com. The judge may ask the defendant to provide proof of his financial situation to justify this request.

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Full Answer

Public defenders are lawyers paid by the government to represent a defendant, explains Lawyers.com. The determination of whether the defendant qualifies for a public defender is made by the judge using criteria such as financial resources, assets, income and debts. Income may need to be proven using pay stubs. Standards for how much money a defendant can make and still qualify for a public defender vary greatly from state to state and even from one court to another.

Other factors that may affect the appointment of a public defender include the availability of a lawyer, such as in rural areas with limited resources, notes Lawyers.com. Public defense lawyers may not be on staff with the court, in which case the court typically appoints a private attorney who is paid using public funds. There is also a provision called partial indigency representation where the defendant receives the help of a public defender but is also expected to reimburse the court for some of the cost.

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