WHAT KIND OF CASES DOES THE PUBLIC DEFENDER HANDLE?
1. Criminal Cases at Trial Level
The public defender handles only criminal cases in District or City Court. Any offense that carries jail is including under the case law as a matter in which there is a right to appointed counsel. There are some other cases in which the consequences are so closely related to jail that the law provides appointed counsel as well. But this does not include divorces, civil damage suits or suits for civil rights violations.
Included cases are: FELONIES, MISDEMEANORS, DWI, CRIMINAL NON SUPPORT, and DRUG TREATMENT COURT. Felonies are everything from the most serious murder cases down to Second Offense Possession of Marijuana and Third Offense DWI. Misdemeanors include first and second DWIs, fighting, first Possession of Marijuana, and other minor offenses.
The District office only works in District and City Courts, which we refer to as the ‘trial courts’.
2. Appellate Cases in Criminal Court
Our office completes its work in the trial court. There is a “Louisiana Appellate Project” which takes over when a conviction is final, and helps clients test the result with an appeal. The appointment of the project is automatic if an appointed lawyer worked for the client at the trial of the case.