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The Department of Public Defense (DPD) provides legal representation to adults and juveniles who have been charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney, as well as people facing civil commitment, parents who could lose their children in a dependency action, and people seeking to vacate a past felony or misdemeanor conviction. DPD works to address racial disproportionality in the criminal legal system, the collateral consequences of system involvement, and other structural and systemic issues that undermine the rights of our clients.

In 2019, DPD represented 16,244 individuals in King County courts and handled 6,924 filings in Seattle Municipal Court. Read more about DPD's work in its 2020 Annual Report

DPD is working to keep our clients and employees safe during the public health crisis posed by COVID-19. Read more.


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Legal services and advocacy

DPD provides legal services to adults and youth facing a potential loss of liberty. Learn if you qualify and how to seek legal help. 

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Employment and internships

DPD is an excellent place to work. We hire people who have a passion for public defense and a commitment to social justice.

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Policy and partnerships

DPD works with partners to address systemic and structural issues that harm our clients and their communities.

Videos by DPD

What to Do If Your Child Is Removed by CPS

One of the most painful experiences a parent can face is the removal of their child by CPS. DPD's new video explores this difficult issue, profiling two parents who experienced both removal and reunification and who have guidance to offer others as a result. 


Know Your Rights!

This video features three young people delivering a powerful message born of their own experiences in King County. When stopped by the police, they urge viewers, ask if you're free to leave. If you're not, ask for a lawyer, then stay quiet. 

 

What's new?

Calling on the King County Prosecutor to help end bad police practices

The community and DPD sent a letter to the King County Prosecutor on Aug. 3, asking him to use his "position of power to act as an immediate catalyst for law enforcement reform." Stop filing drug charges that result from law enforcement practices known to disproportionately target BIPOC -- like pretextual traffic stops or buy-busts. Read our letter here. The San Francisco DA is making these kinds of reforms in an effort to get law enforcement to end racially inflected practices. Read this piece in Slate, published Aug. 4, 2020: The police lie. All the time. Can anything stop them?   

Youth Rights Ordinance could help to safeguard young people in Seattle and King County

The Youth Right to Counsel Ordinance, pending before the King County Council and the Seattle City Council, would help to address a number of issues that make youth – particularly youth of color – unable to effectively assert their rights in the face of coercive police contacts. The ordinance would connect a youth to a public defender when law enforcement asks youth to waive their constitutional right to remain silent and constitutional right to an attorney (after administering Miranda warnings) or when they ask youth to consent to a search. An exception allows officers to interrogate youth without connecting them to a public defender if they reasonably believe the information sought is necessary to protect life from an imminent threat and the questioning is limited to that purpose. The ordinance honors MiChance Dunlap-Gittens, who was killed by law enforcement during a tragically botched sting operation in 2017 when he was 17. Several community members and community organizations – including Creative Justice, Community Passageways, and Choose 180 – are championing the ordinance. Read a community letter here.  

DPD partners with the community to seek far-reaching change in Seattle

DPD and numerous partners are working together to convince the Seattle City Attorney and the Seattle City Council to begin the work of divesting from the criminal legal system in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the centuries of violent oppression of Black people. In June, DPD and partners sent a letter asking the City Attorney's Office to use its discretion in filing decisions to stop prosecuting most misdemeanor offenses, many of which are crimes of poverty. That letter also asks the City Council to reduce the size of the probation department and to invest resources in “community-based supports that will allow basic needs to be met” and asks the Seattle Municipal Court to become a leader in restorative justice for those individuals who continue to be charged with crimes, helping communities to heal rather than be further traumatized. Read a community letter here. 

DPD provides on-call attorney services seven days a week. If the police want to question you or you're facing another situation that requires immediate legal help, please call 206-477-8899.
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King County Public Defender
Anita Khandelwal

If you'd like to invite Anita to speak to your organization, please email DPD at dpd@kingcounty.gov. Visit this page to read a brief bio about Anita and to learn about the members of her management team.

For media inquiries, please contact Leslie Brown, communications manager, at 206-263-1364 or at leslie.brown@kingcounty.gov.