Right to Counsel & Complaint Procedures
The Right to Court Appointed Counsel in Indiana:
The United States and Indiana Constitutions and various Indiana statutes require that courts (judges) appoint counsel (an attorney) to represent you at no expense if you cannot afford one in certain cases.
In Indiana, if a court finds that you cannot afford to hire an attorney, one should be appointed for you in the following case types:
- Adults or juveniles charged as adults who have been arrested for a criminal offense (a misdemeanor or a felony)
- Juveniles (under 18) with an active juvenile delinquency case pending
- Parents or legal guardians of a child with a child in need of services (CHINS) case pending
- Parents with a termination of parental rights (TPR) case pending
- Individuals with a civil commitment case pending
- Individuals with a child support contempt case pending
- Appeals of judgments arising from the above cases, if the right to appeal has not been waived
Courts may appoint counsel in other cases if the court determines that the interests of justice demand such an appointment.
Generally, a court will determine whether you are eligible for a court appointed attorney and should ask you questions about your financial capacity to hire an attorney.
If you are unsure if an attorney has been appointed by the court in your case, please check with the Odyssey Case Management System at the link below. If you believe you are entitled to an appointed attorney in your case and have not been appointed one, please first contact the court or court clerk in the county where your case is pending. The contact information for Indiana's Courts and Court Clerks may be found at the link below.
For cases that you are not eligible for an appointed counsel, there still may be free or low-cost legal support available to you. Click the "Getting Legal Help" website link below for details.
Concerns Regarding Your Appointed Counsel:
If you have a concern about your court appointed counsel or public defender, please contact the local Chief Public Defender or head of your local Public Defender Board to report the issue. If you would like the contact information for the office or individual who manages appointed counsel in your county/region, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will provide that information to you.
If you feel an attorney violated their Rules of Professional Conduct, you should contact the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission to formally file your complaint. This agency of the Indiana Supreme Court is responsible for investigating and prosecuting claims of misconduct against lawyers licensed to practice law in Indiana and protecting lawyers against unwarranted claims of misconduct.
The Indiana Supreme Court has exclusive power to take action against a lawyer's license to practice law. The Indiana Public Defender Commission does not have authority to investigate or prosecute claims of misconduct against lawyers in the practice of law.
|Click here to learn more about the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.|
Concerns Regarding A Judicial Officer:
If you have a concern about a judicial officer, please contact the Judicial Qualifications Commission to report the issue.
The Judicial Qualifications Commission operates under the auspices of the Indiana Supreme Court's original jurisdiction over the discipline of judges. The mechanism by which complaints are reviewed and judicial disciplinary cases proceed is governed by Supreme Court Admission and Discipline Rule 25.
The Judicial Qualifications Commission's jurisdiction extends only to Indiana judicial officers; that is, judges in the circuit and superior courts in each county, Magistrates, commissioners, and referees, Justices and judges on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Tax Court, Senior Judges, judges pro tempore, city and town court judges, and, small claims court judges. The Commission also has jurisdiction over judicial candidates for alleged violations of Canon 4 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. All are referred to here as "judges" for this purpose.
The Indiana Supreme Court has exclusive power to take action against judicial officers. The Indiana Public Defender Commission does not have authority to investigate or prosecute claims of misconduct against judicial officers.
|Click here to learn more about the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission.|
NOTE: The Indiana Public Defender Commission may not provide legal advice or investigate claims of misconduct in the practice of law.