How to Get an Attorney
1. Come to any OPD screening location for a financial interview. At the interview, an OPD screener will ask you questions about your financial situation. Please bring the following items with you to the interview:
- Your court summons. This should show your case number, charge, next court date and the type of hearing scheduled
- Pay stubs from the last three months
- Your most recent bank statement
- A copy of last year's income tax return
- Any items that show you are receiving public assistance or unemployment compensation
2. The OPD screener will determine if you qualify for a public defender.
If you are found indigent, it means you cannot afford an attorney. You will be assigned to a public defender agency.
If you are found able to contribute, it means you have enough money that you cannot be found indigent, but you do not have enough money to hire a private attorney. You will be assigned to a public defender agency, but you will be asked to sign a promissory note. The note means that you will make payments to help pay for your attorney. King County will send you a monthly bill, giving you up to 12 months to pay for your attorney.
If you are found not indigent, it means you do not qualify for a public defender. In this case, you must hire an attorney on your own. Please see the resources page for places to find legal help in the area.
3. Whether or not you are found indigent, every person being interviewed must pay a $25 processing fee. If you do not have $25 with you at the time of the interview, OPD will bill you for it. This will give you up to two months to pay.
4. If you are assigned to a public defender agency, call the agency four business days after your interview to find out the name of your attorney.
5. Make sure you show up at your scheduled hearing. There will be an attorney there to represent you.
The screener is not an attorney and cannot give you legal advice.