The Office of Assigned Counsel accepts applications for appointed counsel (Public Defenders) from defendants in criminal cases before the district, juvenile and superior courts. You can also apply for appointed counsel in other juvenile matters. Applications for counsel in municipal courts should be made to the municipal court.
Eligibility is determined solely on the evaluation of your ability to pay your own costs of defense. The standards that are used are similar to those used by other agencies in evaluating eligibility for such things as public housing, welfare, food stamps or medical coupons.
Application Process, Office Hours, & Interview
Applications are made in writing at the Office of Assigned Counsel on the 3rd floor of the Whatcom County Courthouse, Suite 304. The Affidavit of Indigency (PDF) must be completed and sworn to under penalty of perjury. The application is a financial declaration of the income, expenses and assets available to household members. Verification may be required at our discretion.
Applications can be made any time after you have been charged with a crime. Public defenders cannot be appointed to assist you with investigative meetings with law enforcement unless they occur after you have been charged.
No appointments are required nor are they accepted. Applications cannot be done over the phone although a written and sworn application may be submitted by mail and the interview can be done later by phone. The interview should take about 10 minutes.