FAQs

Q: How does one qualify to be represented by a public defender?

A: Applicants must complete and sign an application and verification. To qualify, applicants are interviewed at the Detention Center or the Public Defender's Office.

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Q: What does "indigent person" or "indigent defendant" ?

A: O.C.G.A. §17-12-2
A) A person charged with a misdemeanor, violation of probation, or a municipal or county offense punishable by imprisonment who earns less than 100 percent of the federal poverty guidelines unless there is evidence that the person has other resources that might reasonably be used to employ a lawyer without undue hardship on the person or his or her dependents;

B) A juvenile charged with a delinquent act or a violation of probation punishable by detention whose parents earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines unless there is evidence that the juvenile or his or her parents have other resources that might reasonably be used to employ a lawyer without undue hardship on the juvenile, his or her parents, or the parent's dependents; and

C) A person charged with a felony who earns or, in the case of a juvenile, whose parents earn, less than 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines unless there is evidence that the person has other resources that might reasonably be used to employ a lawyer without undue hardship on the person, his or her dependents, or, in the case of a juvenile, his or her parents or the parent's dependents.

In no case shall a person whose maximum income level exceeds 150 percent of the federal poverty level or, in the case of a juvenile, whose household income exceeds 150 percent of the federal poverty level be an indigent person or indigent defendant.

Prior to the creation of the Office of the Circuit Public Defender in 2005, Chatham County had independent guidelines for Indigent Defense Verification.  Those guidelines remain in effect for misdemeanor screening and representation. 

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