We represent adults in criminal cases who cannot afford to retain an attorney. We also represent all juveniles in delinquency cases. The nature and severity of the charges and the custodial status of the accused are also considered when determining whether a person can afford to retain counsel. At the initial interview we obtain the following information:
- financial information regarding employment
- assets (such as housing equity)
- money owed to creditors
- family size
- other sources of income
We do not represent persons in traffic, civil and family law cases, unless they are referred for possible contempt of court charges. Prospective clients of our Department should be aware that the court will assess attorney's fees at the end of the case. The county’s Cost Recovery Department collects fees (not the Office of the Public Defender). If the fees are not paid, the Cost Recovery Department may seek a civil judgment for the fees. Clients are entitled to ask for a hearing on their ability to pay when the court orders fees. In every case, a fee of at least two hundred dollars ($200) is assessed.