Frequently Asked Questions:
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How do I obtain a Court-Appointed Attorney?
The decision as to whether a person qualifies for a Public Defender is made by the Judges of each of the specific Courts. A number of factors are considered including a person’s income, what if any assets such as houses and vehicles which they own and also taking into account any expenses they have including care of their children. The decision is made on a case by case basis taking into account a person’s overall financial situation along with the seriousness of the alleged crime. The Public Defender Agency has limited authority to appoint itself and this should be done through the Courts. In the event that you desire a Public Defender, you should either inform the Court at your next Court appearance or write to the Court making that request.
Who may talk to a Public Defender about an individual's case?
Because of ethical and office considerations, the Public Defender will normally only speak to their client in regards to their case. This is essential in order to protect the attorney/client privilege. Family members and friends, even those who the client has stated may talk with the attorney, will not be spoken to unless that person is a witness or can supply pertinent information. The attorney assigned to the case may talk to other individuals, but will not discuss specifics of the case with any one other than the client.
How do I schedule an appointment?
An appointment may be scheduled by contacting the Public Defenders’ office and setting up an appointment time. Appointments can also be scheduled telephonically during the normal working business hours of the Public Defenders’ office which is from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. An individual should not arrive at the Public Defenders’ office in hopes to speak with their attorney. Because of scheduling, the attorney may not be in the office or may be scheduled to handle other matters. The client should also come alone to the appointment. These conferences are very important and small children can deter one’s concentration of their case at hand.
Can we pay our Public Defender money for doing their job?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. All of the Public Defenders are paid for their services through their contractual relationship with the Noble County Public Defenders’ Agency. They cannot and will not take any monies for their representation since they are already paid for those services and it would be an ethical violation to do so.
Are the Public Defenders simply another part of the State and therefore they do not represent their client's adequately?
Each Public Defender is licensed through the State of Indiana and has taken an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, the State of Indiana Constitution and to abide by their ethical obligations to represent their client. Further, the Noble County Public Defenders’ Agency is an independently operated agency and there only connection to the State is through their funding. For that reason, the attorneys will follow their constitutional and ethical obligations and are not agents of the State.