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In Sanders v. State, 85 Ind. 318 (1882), relief from a conviction was granted where the accused pled guilty to avoid imminent lynching by a mob—making Indiana one of the first states in the nation to provide review in criminal cases where no direct appeal was available.

About the State Public Defender

Created by the General Assembly in 1945, the Office of the Indiana State Public Defender is the state agency responsible for providing legal representation and other services to people accused or convicted of a crime who cannot afford to hire an attorney. The enabling statute is found in Ind. Code 33-40-1.

Pursuant to the Rules for Post-Conviction Remedies promulgated by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1969, today post-conviction relief is available in Indiana to those who pled guilty, or to those who have appealed without being able to raise all challenges to their convictions or sentences on direct appeal. The State Public Defender’s Office provides representation on post-conviction actions in death penalty, criminal, and juvenile delinquency cases for individuals in Indiana’s prisons and provides counsel at trial and on appeal when requested by local courts.

Persons seeking information about appointed trial or direct appeal counsel should contact their county public defender office.

“The office of the State Public Defender was created for the benefit of those wrongfully imprisoned, as well as to aid the courts in administering justice . . .”

—State ex rel Sanders v. Reeves, 228 Ind. 293, 294, 91 N.E.2d 912 (1950).

Mission statement

The mission of the Office of the Public Defender of Indiana is to deliver justice to the wrongfully convicted and sentenced, to correct trial and appellate errors, and to right constitutional violations in criminal cases. We strive to provide excellent and efficient legal services to incarcerated, indigent clients without delay and to serve as a constructive, innovative, and responsible partner in the criminal justice system in order to promote a more just and fair legal system for all.

"From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law. This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him."

Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)


The Office reviewed 595 non-capital post-conviction trials and guilty pleas in FY 2021 and FY 2022. Relief was granted in 99 cases, either as a change in sentence, a vacation of conviction or sentence, an appeal, a new sentencing hearing, or a new PCR hearing. These State Public Defender cases effected a reduction of 642.1 years served involving improper or illegal conviction(s) and sentence(s) as determined by the trial court or appellate court or cases where the State of Indiana agreed to the relief or modification. Using the IDOC’s most recent posted average cost of housing an incarcerated adult in an IDOC facility, $23,878 per year, this resulted in a net savings to the State of Indiana of over 15 million dollars.

Contact Information

Indiana State Public Defender
One North Capitol, Suite 800
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

Phone: 317-232-2475
Fax: 317-232-2307

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