What does a Public Defender do?
Public defenders are state’s employee attorneys appointed by a court to defend accused individuals that cannot afford their own legal representation. Public defenders provide representation, consultation, and advice to their clients and represent them during a criminal investigative proceeding.
Public defenders work with their clients, to prepare a defense, which includes conducting legal research, gathering facts, and interviewing the client and witnesses. They provide and discuss information, strategies, and development and arrange for their client’s bail to be set and bonds posted. Public defenders write motions, pleadings, and legal arguments, prepare legal documentation, and represent clients in court. They are responsible for pretrial discovery, withdraw pleas, suppression motions and appeals, and attend their clients’ sentencing. They also negotiate plea bargains, research laws, write documents to submit into court, represent their clients in court, and negotiate their clients’ plea bargains. Public defenders need a Juris Doctor degree and to pass the state bar exam.
- Negotiate plea bargains, dismissals, or other disposition of assigned cases with prosecuting attorneys.
- Investigate facts and prepare defense for assigned cases to determine the merits of cases and appropriate course of action.
- Maintain appropriate communication with client about status of the case and answers client questions.
- May direct work of investigators consistent with internal office policies.
- Identify potential legal issues to advance client's case, research applicable law, and draft appropriate motions and briefs.
- Maintain client case files, prepare public defender time reports to the court, and close files consistent with office policies.
- Consult with social workers, probation officers, judges and referees in order to determine appropriate treatment programs for clients as a part of defense strategy.
- Prepare cases for defense of indigent persons charged with criminal offenses in district courts.
- Juris Doctor.
- A natural leader and problem solver with demonstrated critical thinking and collaboration skills.
- Strict attention to detail.
- Strong command of English language and good communication skills.
- Able to display confidence, strong work ethic, and positive attitude.
Public Defender Career Path
Learn how to become a Public Defender, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Years of Experience Distribution
Public Defender Insights
“Salary and not many bonus perks.”
“Secure place to work and job security”
“Everyone I work with is really dedicated and helpful.”
“Everyone works together to solve whatever comes up to provide fans the best possible experience.”
“You don't have to tell people you can't help them if they can't pay you.”
“Job is demanding but people are great!”
“it is nice place to work”
“You receive good secure pay”
Public Defender Interviews
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of a Public Defender
- Law Clerk
- Legal Secretary
- Legal Assistant