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Public Defender

A Deputy Public Defender reviews cases with juveniles

A Deputy Public Defender reviews cases with juveniles

When a person lacks the resources to hire an attorney, the law requires the appointment of counsel for defendants in criminal cases, youths in Juvenile Court cases, parents in dependency cases, and for a variety of persons in mental health cases. The Office of the Public Defender is dedicated to preserving the constitutional rights of its clients.

In Juvenile Court, the public defender provides legal representation to minors charged with a crime and adults in dependency cases. Because most juveniles lack financial resources to hire an attorney, the court will usually appoint the public defender to represent a youth at their first court appearance.

At this first appearance, also known as a "Detention Hearing," the public defender will receive a copy of the charges ("Petition"), and the court will determine whether the youth will be detained or released while the case is pending. Once a decision is made as to the custody status of the youth, future court dates will be scheduled. Between the first and second court appearance, the youth will be interviewed by the Public Defender's Office. In addition, the public defender will receive the discovery from the District Attorney's Office. Discovery includes police and laboratory reports, photographs, videotapes, audiotapes, and other evidence. The assigned public defender prepares the case by reading the discovery, meeting with the youth and investigating legal and factual issues.

  • All Deputy Public Defenders are lawyers licensed to practice law by the California State Bar.
  • They are in court nearly every day and know the "ins and outs" of the courts in which they serve.
  • Deputy Public Defenders also have the benefit of outstanding in-house support services including professional investigative staff, paralegal and clerical staff, interns and law clerks, as well as the shared knowledge and experience of other deputy public defenders in the office.
  • For more information on the Public Defender's Office, call the Orange County Public Defenders Juvenile Justice Center branch office at (714) 945-7578 or visit the Orange County Public Defender website at: