How Do I Qualify for a Public Defender?

How to qualify for a public defender.

How Do I Qualify for a Public Defender?

The right to an attorney is provided to criminal defendants in the Constitutions of both the United States and Arizona. When defendants cannot afford a private attorney, they can be appointed a public defender by the State of Arizona. All public defenders in the state are licensed Arizona attorneys.

In order to be provided a public defender, defendants must prove financial hardship. Public defenders will not be appointed to defendants who have the ability to pay for a private attorney’s representation, even if they request it.

Anyone who would like to have a court-appointed public defender must pass a “means test” demonstrating that they are unable to afford to hire a lawyer. Typically, courts provide public defenders to those who are below the poverty line.

Means tests are conducted under oath and cover matters of the defendant’s income and family size. Courts will only public a public defender in situations where they find the defendant truly cannot pay to hire their own counsel.

For defendants with criminal cases in city courts, public defenders may also be appointed for free or at a reduced cost to eligible individuals. Each court sets their own eligibility guidelines for these misdemeanor cases and typically only provide public defenders for cases that could result in jail time.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.



Scroll to Top
This site is registered on as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.