Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs Topics

What types of cases does the Office of the Public Defender handle?

The Office of the Public Defender represents persons charged with violating city ordinances, traffic offenses, as well as some misdemeanors occurring within the City of Atlanta.

What are the hours of operation?

The office is open Monday thru Friday from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM.

Do I need a Public Defender?

Defendants charged with crimes are almost always best served by obtaining a lawyer.  In fact, most criminal defendants are represented by a lawyer, especially when jail is a possibility.  It is very difficult for a person to competently handle his or her own criminal case. Criminal and traffic cases can result in collateral civil consequences.

How do I get a Public Defender?

You can request a Public Defender by completing an application for appointment of counsel and submitting it to the Court at the earliest opportunity.

How do I know if I qualify for a Public Defender?

Qualification is primarily based on your financial circumstances.   A judge will review your completed application to determine whether you are indigent.  Upon approval, the court will appoint the Office of the Public Defender to represent you in your legal case.

What happens after I’ve been assigned a Public Defender?

Please contact the Office of the Public Defender to schedule an appointment for an initial interview. Thereafter, your case will be assigned to a holistic defense team for legal investigation and assessment of social service needs.

Clients that are in-custody at the Atlanta Pretrial Detention Center will have an opportunity to meet with their holistic defense team prior to each court appearance.

I am unable to attend court on my scheduled date. What should I do?

Upon proper notice, your appointed attorney can make a request to the court for a continuance on your behalf.  The judge assigned to your case will decide whether your request will be granted.

My English is limited. How can I get an interpreter to assist me?

Your appointed attorney can ask the court to provide you with the assistance of an interpreter.

I missed my court date and received a Failure to Appear (FTA). Do I still have a Public Defender?

Yes.  Please contact the Office of the Public Defender IMMEDIATELY to discuss your options.

I want to appeal my case. What should I do?

If you are convicted of any charge(s) in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court, you may be entitled to an appellate review of your case in a court of higher jurisdiction.  As the appellate process requires adherence to strict deadlines, please consult with your assigned attorney immediately after conviction to discuss your legal options.

What other services are offered by the Office of the Public Defender?

The Office of the Public Defender utilizes a holistic approach to legal representation by addressing the collateral needs of their clients.  Clients are individually assessed by a social service team and referred to community resources for mental health care, substance abuse treatment, education and employment programming, emergency shelter, and permanent supportive housing.

What if I have additional questions?

You may contact the Office of the Public Defender at (404) 658-6838.