Frequently Asked Questions

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I was just appointed a public defender. When should I call your office?
Defendants who are released from custody are ordered by the Justice Court to call the Public Defender’s office on the third business day after their release to make an appointment with their assigned attorney. If you call earlier than the third business day following your release, our office may not have received and processed the paperwork from Justice Court.  

My lawyer hasn’t contacted me yet and my hearing is tomorrow. Why not?
Your lawyer will contact you when disclosure has been received, usually after arraignment in Superior Court. However, you may contact your attorney to arrange an appointment or a visit on the third business day following your release or after you have received a letter from our office requesting that you call to arrange an appointment. Be sure your address and telephone number(s) are updated with the attorney’s office.  

My lawyer won’t return third party phone calls (including relatives and friends) concerning my case.
The lawyer’s professional and ethical responsibilities are to the client. We are unable to communicate privileged information to third parties but generally able to communicate information that is public knowledge. It is our duty to protect the attorney/client relationship and to protect privileged information and to keep it confidential.  General information about hearing dates can be requested of the Clerk of Court.

Are public defenders real attorneys? What kind of training do they receive?
Yes, they are licensed by the Arizona State Bar. As for training and experience, please review the “Meet Our Attorneys” section.

What is the difference between a Public Defender, the Legal Defender, and an attorney in the private sector?
The Legal Defender’s Office is similar to the Public Defender’s Office. Legal Defenders however, represent people whom  Public Defenders are not able to represent because of conflicts of interest or other legal reasons. The Office of Court Appointed Counsel provides a roster of private lawyers available for appointment to represent people who cannot obtain the Public or Legal Defender to represent them. These lawyers work under the Office of Court Appointed Counsel to ensure the availability of additional lawyers when the Legal Defender’s and Public Defender’s caseloads become too great or conflicts of interest or other legal reason compels independent representation. Any person charged with a crime is at liberty to hire their own private counsel to represent them.     

Can my Public Defender handle my civil case?
Public Defenders by law are restricted to representing indigent persons accused of serious crimes. By law, Public Defenders are prohibited from defending anybody on any matter other than cases assigned to their office.

Do police have to read me my rights before they talk to me?
The Miranda advisory applies when a person is taken into custody or is not free to leave the presence of officers.  Consensual encounters in which police ask questions but have not detained  a person, are generally not subject to Miranda advisories. However, other than responses to general questions, you have a right to not incriminate yourself. If you have concerns, request an attorney before further conversation with police.  

I am a Mexican national. Does the U.S. Constitution protect my rights?
The U.S. Constitution protects the right of persons pursuant to the Bill of Rights, including visitors to this country.  

If I don’t speak English, will an interpreter be provided?
The right to counsel means the right to communicate with counsel. If you require an interpreter, one will be provided to you at each stage of the proceedings.

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