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Indigent Defense FAQ

Q. How do I apply for a Public Defender?

A. Anyone seeking legal representation by a Public Defender must begin by completing an application, which can be obtained from the Office of Indigent Defense or downloaded from this website by selecting the "Print an Application" tab on the left menu.  Your case must be eligible for a Public Defender and you must be financially eligible for an attorney to be assigned to your case.

Q. Is my case eligible?

A. The following cases are eligible for representation by a Public Defender:

  • Any case that has jail as a possible sentence
  • Parole Revocation Hearing
  • Extradition
  • Crimes committed while in the custody of the NYS Department of Corrections
  • Custody/Visitation by parents (no step-parents)
  • Support Violation
  • Paternity (Respondent's Only)

Cases that are NOT eligible:

  • Grand Jury
  • Traffic Infractions (speeding, cell phone, seat belt, etc.)
  • Initial Support
  • Support Modification
  • Person in Need of Supervision (PINS)
  • Juvenile Delinquent


Q. Am I financially eligible?

A. If you are incarcerated, detained, or confined to a mental health institution, you are eligible for attorney services.  You must complete an application.

If you are receiving Family Assistance (TANF), Safety Net Assistance (SNA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), Supplemental Secruity Income (SSI), New York State Supplemental Program (SSP), or Public Housing Assistance, you are eligible for attorney services.  You must complete an application and provide a copy of your benefit letter.

If you reside with an individual receiving assistance, you must submit a copy of their benefit letter indicating that you are a member of the household with your application. 

Eligibility is based on 250% of Poverty Level Eligibility Standard.  Net household income is used to determine eligibility.  Other factors considered when determining eligibility are Child Support Payments, Unemployment Insurance, Worker's Compensation, Social Security Disability, private disability benefits, pensions, expenses and assets.  Please consider the following when determining if you are financially eligible:

Annual Income by Percentage of Federal Poverty Guidelines 

Family Size  Net Household Income  
1 $37,650
2 $51,100
3 $64,550
4 $78,000
5 $91,450
6 $104,900
7 $118,350
8 $131,800

**For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $13,450 for each additional person.

If you have no source of income and you do not receive public benefits, you must provide a signed AND NOTARIZED statement providing a detailed explanation of how you are maintaining basic needs and living expenses (food, shelter, transportation, cash, etc.)  An Affidavit of Financial Support is available on this website.  Proof of identity is required for notary services.