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What Is A Public Defender?

In the United States, the public defender is an attorney who provides legal representation to defendants who have been charged with a criminal offense and who are unable to pay for an attorney.

Public defender agency's are paid for by the state and federal government agency's. These appointed attorneys are required for anyone who is charged with a crime and is subject to imprisonment.

The Sixth Amendment required that governments have to provide defendants with competent counsel. Different jurisdictions use different approaches to providing such counsel.

Not all jurisdictions have public defender offices. In some areas defendants are represented by appointed attorneys who have contracts appointed and paid for by the court.

All public defender agency's are are supported by public funding, but these agency's cannot take direction from the government in handling of cases or hiring of staff attorneys.

Public defender agency's vary depending on the type of support staff assistance's that are hired. Including clerical assistance's, defender offices may hire investigators, social workers and forensic experts. These resources can help defenders provide a better professional service than an appointed lawyer.

Federal Public Defender is an agency which operates under the Judicial Branch of the federal government. The office of the Federal Public Defender operates under the authority of the Criminal Justice Act of 1964.

A person's eligibility for defender services is determined by the federal court. Defender organization attorneys may not engage in the private practice of law.

Because conflict of interest problems may occur when multiple defendants participated in a single crime, only one person in a group of co-defendants can be appointed an attorney from a public defender office. To ensure that each defendant is given his constitutional right to an effective defense, the court will assign each defendant an attorney from a completely different office.

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