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Who can be represented by a public defender in Maryland?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Who can be represented by a public defender in Maryland?

If you are charged with a crime, it will be best to be represented by an attorney to avoid conviction or reduce penalties. You can hire a private attorney or can apply for a public defender to represent you. But do you qualify for the latter?

This guide discusses who can be represented by a public defender:

You can’t afford a private attorney

If you can’t afford to hire a private attorney without incurring financial hardship, the Office of Public Defender can provide you with representation. However, this decision is not based on what you say. You will apply by filling out form DC-099

In this form, you will provide information about your case, household, monthly income, liquid assets and monthly bills. A District Court commissioner will interview you and analyze the information you provide. 

When attending the interview, you should carry your completed DC-099 form, documents issued by the court, trial date notices from the court, written proof of salary for the last two payments if employed and proof of public assistance if unemployed. 

The District Court commissioner will examine your documents to determine if you qualify to be represented. If you do, they will provide you with a written statement.

When will the public defender represent you?

The public defender assists adults, who may or may not be incarcerated, and juveniles in the District Court of Maryland and Circuit courts and during juvenile hearings. The office will ensure they are present in custody and during interrogation, hearings, arraignment, trial and appeal.

Public defenders represent defendants who can’t afford to hire a private attorney. However, it can help to consult legal help to know the pros and cons of this move.