How do I get a public defender appointed to my case?
Public defenders are court-appointed attorneys. If you would like to use the services of a public defender you must appear for your first court hearing and request the judge to appoint an attorney to you. The attorneys are in the courtroom and you will have an opportunity to speak with your court assigned attorney before any action is taken on your case. If you hired a private attorney and can no longer afford those fees or if at your first hearing you told the judge that you planned to retain counsel but are financially unable to afford one, you will need to ask the judge to appoint an attorney to represent you at your next hearing. Please note that until we are appointed, attorneys from the public defender’s office will not be able to discuss your legal matters with you or advise you in any capacity.
What is the difference between a public defender and a private attorney?
Nothing. The attorneys with the public defender’s office complete the same education and are required to uphold the same standards of practice as private attorneys.
I have a public defender appointed to my case. How do I contact or schedule a meeting with my assigned attorney?
Meetings with attorneys are appointment only. You will need to make those appointments directly with your attorney. The legal secretaries at the public defender’s office do not maintain the calendars and schedules for the attorneys.
I do not like the representation that I am receiving from my attorney the Court appointed to my case. Can I get another attorney?
If you are not happy with your representation and you feel your situation cannot be improved by further communication with your appointed attorney, you will need to present your concerns directly to the judge at your next hearing. Based on those concerns, the judge will make his or her determination as to whether a new attorney should be assigned.
Can I drop by the Public Defender’s Office for legal advice if I have not been appointed an attorney?
No. Public defenders are court-appointed only. Once you have an appointed attorney, meetings with him or her are by appointment only.
Do I have to pay for the services of a public defender?
Fees regarding the services of a public defender are ordered by the court and are payable through the Revenue Recovery Unit, which is part of the Probation Department. You can meet with the Revenue Recovery Collection Unit, which is located on the 3rd floor of the San Luis Obispo Courthouse. The determination of how much you will be charged is based upon your proven financial situation, the number of court appearances, and whether the case is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Click here to download the Financial Declaration Form
Do I qualify for a public defender?
Whether or not you qualify for a public defender is strictly determined by the court. This office has no authority over that determination. It is based on your financial status and the complexity of the case.
A friend or family member has been arrested and is in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail. When will he/she be taken to court?
If they are not on probation, community supervision, or parole, the court has 48 hours from the time they are booked into jail to transport them to court. Please note that weekends & holidays do not count towards those 48 hours. If they are on probation, community supervision, or parole, they must be brought to court within a reasonable period of time (approximately one week). You may check the Superior Court website to review the daily calendar of all scheduled cases.
San Luis Obispo Superior Court 5 Day Calendar
Where can I find information if a person is currently in custody?
You should go to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s website. Under the jail info tab there is a link to “Who’s In Custody”. There you will find information regarding the charges, bail amount, the case’s resolution, or the expected release date.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Website
What to do if you have a warrant:
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you should go to Room 220 in the San Luis Obispo Courthouse and ask the clerk to be placed on the court calendar to have the warrant recalled. If the court clerk does not allow you to calendar yourself, you will need to contact your attorney directly. In some cases the warrant may be designated as a “no court surrender.” If that applies to you, you will need to contact a bail bondsman to post bail and surrender yourself at the San Luis Obispo County Jail.
Note: If you are charged with a felony, you will need to contact your appointed attorney directly to discuss and request to be placed on calendar to have the warrant recalled. Again, in some circumstances it may be necessary to post bail with a bail bondsman to surrender yourself to the jail. If you do not have an attorney appointed to you, or you failed to appear on your first court appearance, and you cannot place yourself back on calendar, you will need to turn yourself into the San Luis Obispo County Jail.
How do I get relief under Proposition 47?
You will need to contact the attorney who represented you in your case. If you do not remember who your attorney is you may contact our main office for assistance at 805-541-5715
How long will it take to resolve my case?
The length of time varies depending on whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and the complexity of the case. While some cases may be resolved at the first court appearance, some cases require more investigation and/or research. Your cooperation with your attorney is vital and will help move the case along in an orderly and timely fashion.