The Public Defender has the mandated responsibility of defending any person who is not financially able to employ counsel and who is charged with the commission of any contempt or offense triable in the superior or municipal courts. The Public Defender also represents qualified individuals in probate and welfare proceedings and may represent any person who is not financially able to employ counsel in proceedings relating to the nature or conditions of detention prior to adjudication.
Government Code Section 27706 sets forth the types of cases which can be handled by a County Public Defender. These include:
- Criminal Cases upon request or by appointment of the court
- Contempt cases
- Cases involving mental health guardianships and conservatorships
- Juvenile cases
Represent any person who is required to have counsel pursuant to Penal Code Section 686.1 (a defendant in a capital case).
Probate Code Section 1471 provides for Public Defender appointment in probate guardianships under specified conditions.
The Welfare and Institutions Code also provides for the appointment of attorneys for indigent parents whose custody rights are subject to proceedings for suspension or termination