The Clark County Indigent Defense Office provides the courts with attorneys to represent persons charged with certain state and county criminal, probation violation, juvenile offender, mental commitment, and child dependency (abuse & neglect) cases when the person is unable to afford an attorney (indigent). Attorneys appointed to represent parents in dependency proceedings are provided to the court by the State Office of Public Defense in Olympia (see Parents Representation.)
If you need assistance with a civil case (for example, divorce, landlord/tenant, employment), there are legal resources listed on the websites of the Clark County Bar Association or the Northwest Justice Project (civil legal aid).
Clark County courts determine whether a person qualifies for the appointment of an attorney at county expense. Individuals who want an attorney appointed must financially qualify according to state statute. A Financial Statement is completed when the person first appears in court. The judge then decides whether or not to appoint an attorney. If an attorney is appointed, a judge may order repayment of the public defense cost at the conclusion of the case.
A person wanting to be screened by court staff for eligibility for an appointed attorney needs to provide income, debt, and asset (house, vehicle, pension) information at his or her first court appearance. Bring the following income information to court to assist in screening for eligibility for appointment of an attorney, if possible: wage slips, including spouse’s wage slips if married; proof of eligibility for food stamps, Social Security, unemployment or other government benefits; and bank account balance(s).
Attorneys who provide indigent defense services are attorneys in private practice who are contracted with the county. These attorneys can only represent individuals if a judge appoints the attorney.
Our mission is to ensure effective and cost-efficient legal representation is available to persons who are eligible for court-appointed counsel, consistent with the Washington and United States Constitutions, laws, and national standards of justice.