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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 mandatory court appointed to apply for a Public Defender (usually, this mandatory court appointment is scheduled the next Wednesday following your arraignment hearing). This mandatory court appointment will be located at front window of the Municipal Court Clerk’s Office. At the mandatory court appointment, the defendant will be required to complete an Indigent Screening Form provided by the court to determine whether he/she qualifies 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 will a Mandatory Court Appointment to appear and apply for Public Defender. IMPORTANT NOTE: IF YOU DO NOT APPEAR AT THIS APPOINTMENT, A WARRANT WILL BE ISSUED FOR YOUR ARREST!
Step 2: At your Mandatory Court Appointment, the Court Clerk will require you to complete a Indigent Screening Form (hyper link). Upon completing this Application, 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 (hyper link). 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!
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:
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. The following is the Rights Form used by the Pasco Municipal Court Rights Form: Rights Form (hyper link)