Frequently Asked Questions

Most of our clients need our help in one of the following:

  • Criminal Defense: Defense of both indigent adults and minors who are charged with a crime. We also defend someone accused of violating probation and/or parole.
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship: Some people are not mentally able to represent themselves in legal matters, such as in court or for forced medical treatment. Our attorneys can represent them and help protect their rights.
  • We do not represent people charged with “infractions”, like traffic tickets. These are not crimes.
This depends upon your income, assets, expenses, and type(s) of charges. During your first court appearance you can apply. You will fill out a financial information sheet (we call it “the green sheet”). That will help us decide if you qualify for our services. By statute, our office may only represent those persons accused of crimes who cannot afford to hire their own attorney. Representation for guardianship or conservatorship matters is based upon statute.
There will be a Public Defender in court for you on your first court date. Usually that attorney will not be your permanent Public Defender. It takes a few days for your case to be assigned to your personal Public Defender.
Yes. “Lawyer” and “attorney” means the same thing in California. A Public Defender must take and pass the same legal and ethics tests as any other California attorney. All of them work only on criminal defense or guardianship/conservatorship cases. For that reason we are the most experienced law firm in Ventura County in these areas of law.
Yes. All clients must pay at least $50. After that, it depends. All of our adult clients are expected to pay for Public Defender services, based on their income, assets and expenses. After the case is over, a judge can legally order you to pay more money to the Public Defender. This is usually based on how much time they spent on your case. But, if Public Defender fees are assessed you are entitled to a hearing on your ability to pay any ordered fees. Many times Public Defender fees are ordered for less than $300.00.
Yes. If the crime that you are accused of happened anywhere in Ventura County, we can represent you, even if you live in another county, state or country.
Not without your permission. All of the information that you give us is confidential. However, if you let us, we will speak to your family about some parts of your case. We may advise you not to talk to anyone except the Public Defender about your case. This includes family and friends.
Probation is a contract between you and the judge after you have been convicted of, or plead guilty to, a crime. Instead of additional jail/prison time, the judge may agree to let you be “on probation”. During probation you must obey all laws, be supervised by a probation officer and meet any other conditions ordered by the judge. If you break the agreement, you can go to jail/prison. There are different types of probation, depending on the crime you are convicted of.

Appeals FAQs

With a few exceptions, no appeal can be filed until after you have been sentenced. There are no appeals from a deferred entry of judgment. A plea of Guilty or No Contest waives most appellate issues, except those relating to search and seizure and some sentencing issues. Appeals are most often filed after a trial.
An appeal is a claim that the superior court judge made an error of law that affected the outcome of your case. Many trial court errors are viewed as harmless and your appeal can be denied on that basis.
Frivolous appeals should not be filed and, sometimes, things can get worse after an appeal, particularly in felony cases. You may be asked to reimburse the government for the fees paid to your appellate lawyer. You should seek advice about appeal from the attorney who represented you at your trial or sentencing.
With a timely request, the Public Defender will file your notice of appeal or provide you with a form to do it yourself. Often, the appellate court will appoint another lawyer, who will contact you as needed.
30 days after sentencing in a misdemeanor case and 60 days after sentencing in felony cases. If you decide to file the Notice of Appeal close to the deadline, you should file it yourself. You can get a form from the Clerk of the Superior Court or download a form here:
Appeals often take six to eighteen months for a decision. An appeal does not postpone the terms of your sentence.
The lawyers on both sides will file briefs and any other pleadings that are necessary and may present oral argument to a panel of three judges. At least two of the judges must agree about the outcome and they will write an opinion explaining their decision.
If you are a public defender client, speak as soon as possible with the attorney who represented you at trial or sentencing. If you still have additional questions, call (805) 654-2201.