Office of Public Defense

Responsibilities
The Snohomish County Office of Public Defense (OPD) is responsible for the administration of the assigned counsel program that provides legal defense services for indigent persons in those criminal and civil cases in which a jail sentence is a potential sanction. It is also responsible for administration of a system for providing the court with information pertaining to the setting of bail and release of offenders pending trial.

The assignment of counsel to people facing the potential loss of liberty and who cannot afford counsel on their own is a right guaranteed by Amendment VI of the U.S. Constitution, as well as Chapter 10.101 of the Revised Code of Washington.

Online Services: Outstanding Snohomish County Warrants

Mandates
The OPD strives to meet three main mandates:
  • Perform indigency screening to ensure constitutional as well as cost-effective assignment of counsel at public expense:
    • Interviewers use state standards and federal guidelines
    • Interviewers conduct screenings in-office and at the county jail
    • Once screened, cases for indigent defendants are referred to the Public Defender Association or conflict counsel for representation
  • Perform pre-trial interviews and report to judges information for decisions on whether to hold defendants in the county jail prior to their trial:
    • Interviews are conducted at the jail Monday through Friday
    • Information includes ties to community and criminal history
  • Represent defendants on specialized calendars in order to provide constitutional protections while containing costs, including:
    • Involuntary mental health commitments
    • Superior Court probation violations
    • Felonies expedited as gross misdemeanors
    • In-custody hearing coverage