We expect you will have many questions about your case and your public defender. Frequently asked questions are listed below. If you do not find the answer to your question here, please contact the office by selecting the “Contact Us” tab from the top of this page. We will respond to you as quickly as possible.
If you are indigent and qualify for a public defender, the Court will appoint the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s office to represent you. The Louisville Metro Public Defender’s Office provides defense representation to all persons in Jefferson County whom the court determines are unable to afford an attorney to defend them on pending criminal charges.
Once the Court has appointed the Louisville Metro Public Defender to represent you, your case will be assigned to one of our staff trial attorneys. If you are in custody, you can expect an in-person visit from that attorney at the detention facility within 48 hours of the court appointment. If you are out-of-custody, you will receive a letter from your attorney within a week of the court appointment concerning your case and asking that you contact him or her to arrange a date and time for a meeting at our offices. In emergency situations, you may call our 24-hour, 7 days a week answering service (502-574-3800) for assistance and an on-call attorney will return your call as soon as possible.
Your initial court appearance is normally in Arraignment Court. The presiding Judge will inform you of the charges against you, set bond or non-financial conditions for your release, inquire about your legal representation, and schedule your next court date. You also can look up your next court date on the Kentucky Court of Justice Website.
Criminal convictions often create problems for defendants that are not fully considered because they do not seem to be directly connected to the criminal justice system. They are referred to as “collateral consequences.” For example, if you are not a U.S. citizen, a criminal conviction may cause you to be deported from the country. Even if you are a citizen, a criminal conviction may make you ineligible for government benefits (including housing), suspend your driving privileges, make you ineligible to host a field trip at your child’s school, cause you to lose student aid, or make it difficult if not impossible to get certain jobs. Make sure that you discuss these potential collateral consequences with your public defender, particularly how a guilty plea or conviction at trial might affect your individual circumstances, as well as your personal plans and goals in life.
Usually, trial dates are not set until after you have made several appearances in Court. This gives you the opportunity to meet with your attorney from the Public Defender’s office, gather information and review documents and materials relating to your case (referred to as “discovery”), assist your attorney in investigating the facts of the case against you, discuss your defense and any questions you may have about your case and the court process. Once the trial date is set, your public defender will meet with you to continue preparation for trial and the presentation of your defense. It is important for you to regularly communicate with your attorney and attend all court proceedings. Failure to timely appear for a court date can have dire consequences, including arrest and bond forfeiture.
Yes, your lawyer is a full-time public defender. In order to serve as a Louisville Metro public defender, an attorney must have graduated from an American Bar Association accredited law school, been duly admitted to practice law in Kentucky, and succeeded in being selected from numerous candidates competing for a full-time position with the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s office. Many public defenders devote their entire legal career to public defense because they are passionate about the practice of criminal law and about protecting the constitutional rights of accused citizens. Public Defenders concentrate on criminal defense and handle no other cases. They have had extensive training in the field of criminal law and trial advocacy. They are very familiar with the courts, judges, and prosecutors in their jurisdiction. As a result, they have the expertise and experience to skillfully, knowledgeably and effectively represent defendants in criminal prosecutions.
The public defender and other members of the defense team are legally and ethically required to protect the best interests of your child (or other loved one), to hold what any client (including a juvenile client) tells them in the strictest of confidence, and to guard the attorney-client privilege. The law does not allow any attorney, even one who represents a juvenile, to tell anyone what the client has told them about their case. This even includes parents or family members of a juvenile client. If you were to overhear an attorney-client privileged conversation or if we shared information with you concerning the statements or actions of your loved one, you could be called to court by the prosecutor to testify. For those reasons, we cannot discuss our client’s case with you.
We hope you find the information contained on this Website useful. However, it is not intended to convey legal advice, which would require the formation of an attorney-client relationship after a determination of indigency by the Court and the entry of an order by the Court appointing the Louisville Metro Public Defender to provide representation to you in a specific case. Please be aware that your e-mails and other communications are not considered confidential until and unless the Court enters such an order.