The response to COVID-19 has impacted access to courthouses and may change the way cases are handled.
Learn more »

Public Defenders

When a person is charged with a crime that has a penalty of time in jail, the court may appoint an attorney to represent their interests. The crime may be a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony.

In order to appoint an attorney, the court must determine if a person charged with a crime is financially eligible. An application form must be truthfully completed. You can ask for a Public Defender at any time, but it is best to ask for a Public Defender as soon as you first appear in court.  Once the judge appoints the Public Defender to represent you, the local Chief Public Defender decides which Assistant Public Defender will handle your case. You are unable to choose which Assistant Public Defender handles your case. In some locations, there is a financial inquiry that occurs before the first court hearing. In other locations, the inquiry occurs in court. Minnesota law sets out the types of court hearings in which a person has a right to appointment of a public defender in court.

The State of Minnesota Board of Public Defense is independent of the Minnesota Judicial Branch. For more information about the Public Defender's Office, visit the State of Minnesota Board of Public Defense website.