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To be appointed a public defender, you must meet BOTH FINANCIAL ELIGIBILITY AND CASE ELIGIBILITY standards. Financial Eligibility To be appointed a public defender, you must be considered "indigent." The following circumstances meet Washington indigency standards pursuant to RCW 10.101:
Public Defenders are only appointed by a judge, in court, after a determination is made that you qualify for such an attorney. At your initial court date, called an arraignment hearing, you will have the opportunity to request a Public Defender. If you request a Public Defender at your arraignment, then the Judge/Court will provide you with a separate appointment date to apply for a Public Defender (usually this appointment is scheduled the next Wednesday following your arraignment hearing). This appointment will be located at front window of the Municipal Court Clerk’s Office. At the appointment, you will be required to complete an Indigent Screening Form provided by the court to determine whether you qualify for a Public Defender. The defendants must bring documentation their income.
The following illustrates the process:
Step 1: At your Arraignment, request a Public Defender to assist you on your criminal case. The Judge/Court will provide you with an Appointment to appear and apply for Public Defender.
Step 2: At your Appointment, the Court Clerk will require you to complete an Indigent Screening Form. Upon completing this Form, the Court Clerk will notify you whether you qualified for a Public Defender.
Step 3: If you qualify for a Public Defender, the Court Clerk will provide you with an information sheet called the Appointment of Counsel. The Appointment of Counsel provides the name and contact information of your Public Defender. More importantly, it provides your next mandatory court hearing. IMPORTANT NOTE: IF YOU DO NOT APPEAR AT THIS HEARING, A WARRANT WILL BE ISSUED FOR YOUR ARREST!
When you were approved for a Public Defender, the Court Clerk should have provided you with your Defender’s Introductory Letter. The Defender’s Introductory Letter is a letter from your Public Defender providing detailed information on how to contact him/her. If you have lost your Defender’s Introductory Letter, you may click on your Defender’s name below for his/her Introductory Letter:
You have the following five options when you have a warrant for your arrest:
5. You can do nothing and wait until you are arrested by law enforcement.
The court appoints public defenders on a rotational basis from a panel of attorneys. The defendant does not have a choice in who is appointed. If you do not like your public defender, you have the following options:
Please view the Court Appointed Attorney Complaint Process page.
When you are arrested or charged with a Washington State crime you have many important rights. These rights are guaranteed by the United States Constitution, the Washington State Constitution, statute, case law, and court rule. Protecting these rights for you and all the citizens of Washington State is one of the fundamental jobs of the Office of Pubic Defense. Pasco Municipal Court uses this Statement of Rights Form.