How to Have the Public Defender Represent You at Your First Misdemeanor Appearance
Am I In The Correct Courtroom?Outside every courtroom, or sometimes in the lobby of the courthouse, there is a list of all the cases. This list is called the "calendar". It refers to all the cases "on calendar" in each courtroom. In other words, what cases the Court will hear that day.
Check to see what courtroom your case will be heard in to make sure you are in the right place. Otherwise, you run the risk of a Bench Warrant for your arrest being issued because you weren't in court when the Judge called your name!
Check-in With the Courtroom BailiffOnce you know you're in the right place, walk up to the Bailiff (the Sheriff Deputy in charge of securing the courtroom) and let him know you are here. He will ask if you are representing yourself, have retained a private attorney, or will be seeking the services of the Public Defender. Tell the Bailiff you want to be represented by the Public Defender.
Fillout the Financial Qualification PaperworkThe Bailiff will provide you with a one page "Financial Statement" and a pen or pencil to fill it out. Completely (and truthfully) fill out the form and return it to the Bailiff.
Financial Qualification DeterminationThe Bailiff will then give the Public Defender your court file that contains the complaint and arrest report, along with your Financial Statement. The Public Defender will review it and make the determination as to whether you financially qualify for the services of the Public Defender.
If you qualify, the Public Defender will then meet with you to discuss your case. Although the cases may be in a certain order on the "calendar" posted outside the courtroom, that is never the order the cases are called by the Judge. Patiently wait for your name to be called to begin discussing your options with your attorney.
What If I Don't Qualify?If the determination is made that you do not financially qualify for the services of the Public Defender, the Court will typically allow you to "waive time for arraignment and plea" for a period of 30 days to try and retain a private attorney to represent you. This will put your case in the same procedural position as if you had showed up the first day with a privately retained attorney.
The Court may allow you to have a copy of the arrest report if it does not contain confidential information such as the names and addresses of witnesses, but it is not required to do so. Your attorney will be able to pick it up and review it with you at any time, however.