Yes. All public defenders are licensed to practice law by the Arkansas Bar Association. They have the same education and meet the same requirements as attorneys employed by private law firms. They aim to provide every client the best possible representation.
Can a public defender help with my divorce? Child custody?
Public defenders are only appointed for criminal cases including felonies, misdemeanors, and mental health hearings.
Do you have law clerk positions or internship opportunities available?
Yes. The office provides opportunities for both law clerks and internships. Law clerks are generally second- or third-year law students who perform legal research, prepare trial and appellate briefs, and assist attorneys in overall case strategy. An intern (unpaid) is given responsibilities which include light research, obtaining discovery documents, and general assistance where needed.
How and when do I meet with my appointed public defender?
You must call the Public Defender's office within two weeks after your arraignment to make an appointment with your attorney. If you do not meet with your attorney to assist in the preparation of your trial, the Judge may revoke your bond and place you in jail until your next court date.
How do I get a public defender?
Public defenders are requested and appointed by the Judge during arraignment. The Judge determines if you are eligible for a public defender based on your current financial situation. The Office of the Public Defender is not permitted by law to provide legal advice until officially appointed.
How much will the services of a public defender cost me?
At arraignment, a Public Defender User Fee will be issued. This amount will be assessed by the Judge based on income. It can possibly be waived if you are in jail or your income is too low. At disposition, a Public Defender Attorney Fee will be assessed by the Judge and is approximately $150.00. If found not guilty, you are not required to pay the attorney fee yet are still responsible for the user fee.
I have been ordered to pay a Public Defender User Fee, a Public Defender Attorney Fee, and/or restitution. Where do I make my payment(s)?
All payment are to be made at the Washington County Courthouse located at 280 N. College in the Clerk's Office on the third floor. The Public Defender's Office does not collect payments of any kind.
What is the maximum income I can have in order to qualify for a public defender?
The Judge makes a determination of indigence based on individual circumstances which include, but are not limited to, income, a spouse's income, property owned, number of dependents, and existing debt.