Blog

CALL US FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

Call Us831-426-5800

Call Us831-566-4357

303 Potrero Street, Suite 30
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in criminal law

Santa Cruz criminal defense attorney public defenderIn California, when you are charged with a crime, you are entitled to have an attorney represent you in court. This can be a retained (hired) attorney, one whom you pay to go to court (and DMV) for you and help you wind your way through an often confusing situation. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you are not at all out of luck. The system provides criminal defense attorneys to help folks who cannot afford to hire private counsel, known as public defenders. Here in Santa Cruz, the public defenders are outstanding advocates for their clients. One often hears negative comments about public defenders in general - “just a government attorney,” “public pretender,” and “just another part of the system.” I can’t speak to areas where I don’t practice, but I can speak to the system in Santa Cruz, as I’ve been involved in it for over 30 years. The public defenders here are dedicated, intelligent, hard-working attorneys who zealously represent their clients. In short: they are outstanding attorneys. 

To see if you qualify for a public defender, you can go to court on your arraignment date and wait until the judge calls your case. You can request the judge appoint a public defender. Typically, a judge will either ask you to fill out a financial form, or he or she could simply question you about your financial situation. The judge then makes a determination as to whether you could afford to retain a private attorney. If the judge thinks you can afford to do so, he or she will give you time to hire an attorney. If the judge believes you cannot afford to hire a private attorney, a public defender will be appointed right then and there. There are public defenders staffing all of the criminal courtroom departments in Santa Cruz. If the judge appoints a public defender to represent you here in Santa Cruz, you are quite likely getting not just good, but extremely good representation.

One note for DUI offenders: your court date is usually 30 or more days after arrest, and the way our system is currently set up, you cannot apply for a public defender until you get to court. Meanwhile, there is usually a separate administrative action (separate from the court case) at DMV that started upon your arrest. If you don’t call DMV within 10 days of your arrest to set up an administrative hearing, DMV will automatically suspend your license. If you want to challenge the suspension of your license by DMV, you will need to make that call yourself (or have a lawyer do so) within those 10 days. The correct DMV number for a Santa Cruz DUI case is ironically a San Jose number: 408-229-7100. The hearing the DMV sets up is separate from the court date, and will likely be after the court date.

...
Back to Top