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Obtaining An Attorney

Court employees are prohibited from providing any legal advice. There are lawyer referral services and other organizations as listed below that may provide assistance to you.

State Bar of California Lawyer Referral Service  

Orange County Lawyer Referral Service Bar Associations  

State Self Help Center 

How can I request Court Appointed Counsel on a misdemeanor charge?

Most matters processed by the Traffic Division are infractions and not eligible for court appointed counsel. However, if you are in custody or being charged with a misdemeanor, you may be eligible. At the arraignment, if you want to be represented by an attorney, but cannot afford one, a request may be made to the court for court appointed counsel, which is usually a public defender.

You may be asked to complete a financial declaration which is reviewed by the judicial officer. If the court determines that you meet the qualifications, an attorney will be appointed.

If you qualify for a court appointed counsel, the court will also make a determination at the conclusion of the case of your ability to pay all or part of the cost of the attorney. If the court determines that you are at that time able to pay, the court will order you to pay all or part of the cost. This order has the same force and effect as a civil judgment. This means if you do not pay the amount ordered, the court may garnish (seize) your bank account or wages, place a lien on your home, and take other action.

Click here for the Offices of the Orange County Public Defender

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