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

Public Defender Information


When a person is charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony with a possibility of jail time, the court may appoint an attorney if you cannot afford one. 

You can ask for a Public Defender (PD) at any time, but it is best to ask when you first appear in court, if not before. You can ask the court to appoint a Public Defender by completing a Public Defender application in one of the following ways: An application for public defender must be truthfully completed. The court reviews the Public Defender Application and decides if you are financially eligible. If so, the court appoints the Public Defender to represent you and 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.