How to Get a Public Defender Appointed In Napa County.
Napa County Public Defenders are Attorneys appointed by a court to represent a criminal defendant when they cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Because they are paid for by the tax payers (out of the County Treasury), the courts only allow the poorest of Defendants to use the public defender services.
In this county, a defendant wishing to get a public defender appointed must appear in court and ask the judge to appoint one. In most courtrooms, the bailiff or Public Defender in the court will ask everyone if they want to apply for the Public Defender Services before the Judge starts a calendar session.
After the request is made, the court will have you fill out an application in court to determine if you have the resources to hire your own private attorney. The court considers a person’s employment situation, assets (such as a house, boat or car), and future ability to pay.
Usually, the court will appoint a public defender right away if you qualify, and they will be available on the first court date. Sometimes, if there is no Public Defender available, the court will reschedule a court date.
Public Defender services are somewhat limited. Defendants who use the public defender
do not get a choice of attorneys, and may be ordered to pay for the attorney’s
services by the hour after the case is over. Public Defenders will not help
with warrant cases before a court appearance, and will not offer advice in
advance of a court date or prior to the filing of a court case. You cannot get a Public Defenders help without going to court.
Private Criminal Defense Attorneys that you hire with your own money are able to provide more expansive services and can spend more time on individual cases when they are being paid for it.
TIPS FOR GETTING A PUBLIC DEFENDER APPOINTED:
1. Tell the judge how your debits and mandatory bills (such as child support – but not car payments) add up to more than your income;
2. Tell the judge why you cannot borrow money from family for a private attorney;
3. Tell the judge you cannot make an informed decision as to what to do without talking to an attorney.
If you are not sure if you can hire a private attorney, or want to shop for one you feel comfortable with, ask the judge for time to consult with an attorney. Nearly all judges will not hesitate to give you a continuance for 30 or 60 days for this purpose.