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Obtaining a Public Defender

Under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as the Indiana Constitution and various Indiana statutes, you have the right to an attorney at no expense to yourself if you cannot afford one in certain cases. These case types are generally any criminal matter, Children in Need of Services and Termination of Parental Rights cases, juvenile delinquency proceedings, mental health commitment cases, other proceedings where incarceration is a possibility (such as child support contempt proceedings), and appeals of these case types. Generally, the judge over your case will determine whether you are eligible for a public defender and should ask you questions about your financial capacity to hire a lawyer.

The Commission cannot appoint an attorney for you, however, if you believe you were entitled to a public defender and were denied one, please let us know. If you have questions about public defense in your county, visit our About Your County page to learn more.