The Seventh Judicial Circuit Public Defender Office provides competent, diligent, and ethical representation for indigent persons accused of criminal offenses in the Seventh Judicial Circuit. The Office provides attorneys for indigent persons in all criminal cases in which an accused may be sentenced to incarceration, even if the incarceration may result from non-payment of a fine. Accordingly, the Office provides representation for cases tried in the Court of General Sessions, Family Court (for juveniles), Drug Court, Magistrate’s Court, and Municipal Court.
1.What is a Public Defender?
A Public Defender is a lawyer provided by the Public Defender’s Office to represent indigent persons charged with criminal offenses.
2.Are Public Defenders real attorneys?
Yes. All Public Defenders are licensed attorneys who have completed law school and are admitted to the South Carolina Bar.
3.Can I obtain a public defender to file for divorce, arrange child support, or solve landlord/tenant problems?
No. The Public Defender’s Office only represents people in criminal matters, including felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile court.
4.How do I obtain the services of a Public Defender?
The Public Defender’s Office can only represent people who qualify. A person’s eligibility will be determined based on household income and assets. To see if you qualify, you must visit our office and speak with one of our personnel. If you qualify, you will then be set up for an interview with one of our investigators who must obtain important information from you. You will then be assigned to a public defender.
5.What do I need to bring with me to the Public Defender’s Office at the time of my qualification/interview?
It is not necessary, but it would be helpful if you bring any warrants/tickets and any notifications of court dates with you when you visit the Public Defender’s Office.
6.If I am in jail, how do I contact the Public Defender’s Office?
A representative from the Public Defender’s Office regularly visits the local jail to complete the application process.
7.I’m thinking about hiring a private attorney to represent me. I don’t need a public defender, do I?
If you are considering hiring a private attorney, but have not done so yet, you should go ahead and apply to the Public Defender’s Office to see if you qualify. If you hire a private attorney later, he or she can pick up your case and receive your file from the Public Defender’s Office. The important thing is that you should be represented by a private attorney or public defender as soon as possible.
8.How can I help my Public Defender?
Do not speak with anyone, including the police, about your case except your Public Defender attorney. Stay in touch with your assigned attorney and make sure you notify the office of any changes to your address and telephone number. If we do not have your correct information, we will not able to contact you when needed.
9.Will the Public Defender’s Office expunge my record?
No, the Public Defender’s Office does not expunge records. You would need to contact a private attorney or the Solicitor’s Office for this service.