Find out about the Office of Public Defense
Both the U.S. and Washington State constitutions grant all criminal defendants the right to an attorney, even if the defendant cannot afford one. Anyone facing a criminal charge, civil commitment, or a dependency proceeding, are entitled to a public defender, as are children facing contempt of court in truancy proceedings.
In King County, the Office of Public Defense (OPD) was formed in 1970 to protect the rights of individuals who are entitled to a public defender. The OPD contracts with local non-profit law firms made up of over 200 attorneys, plus over 90 additional attorneys on the assigned counsel panel to represent defendants in the King County court system. Staff of OPD screens for financial eligibility, including for certain cases in Shoreline, Kenmore and Redmond Municipal Courts. OPD is governed under King County Code 2.60 and the Revised Code of Washington 10.101 and 13.40.140.
Each year OPD screens defendants for indigency and assigns attorneys in over 25,000 cases. OPD’s staff of 20 handles all aspects of the case assignment process including:
- initial client screening
- determination of indigency
- checking for conflicts of interest
- assignment of cases
- negotiation, management and enforcement of the agency contracts
- handling client complaints and grievances
- advocating for the defense system within King County
The table below shows the number of cases handled by OPD in the past three years.
|Misdemeanor (Unincorporated King County)
|Contempt of Court