How to Apply for a Public Defender after committing a crime
- 1). Turn yourself in or go to jail. In most cases, a public defender cannot be appointed for you until you have already been arrested. If you have already committed a crime but have not yet been caught or been to jail, you must first be arrested. You can do so safely by contacting the police and asking them to meet you, or have someone take you to the local jail or law enforcement station and turn yourself in.
- 2). Make your first appearance. For many crimes, felonies in particular, a first appearance before a judge will be required before you are able to post a bond and leave the jail. In any case, there will always be a preliminary hearing before your case goes to trial. You must attend this hearing.
- 3). Tell the judge you will require assistance from the public defender. Often, the judge will ask if you have representation. This is your opportunity to tell him or her that you do not. It also is your opportunity to let the judge know that you may need to have a public defender appointed for you.
- 4). Apply for legal aid, either through your clerk of court or through the public defender's office. Both offices will be located either inside the courthouse or in the near vicinity. The clerk, the bailiff or the judge will give you instruction as to where you need to go. There will be a form that is required to fill out to begin the process, and you will need to attest to your financial status, informing the court you are unable to afford an attorney through your own means.
- 5). Submit any required documentation. In almost every situation, you will be required to prove your indigent status. This will done by signing a sworn affidavit, going through an interview process and presenting financial documents such as bank statements and pay stubs in order to demonstrate you are unable to pay for a lawyer.
- 6). Pay any fees. There will likely still be a few small fees attached. These fees are nowhere close to what the cost of a private attorney would be, but there will still be some investment on your part required, usually about $50 depending on what state and county you are in.