Any “needy” or “indigent” person charged with a crime which carries a penalty of jail time, or a fine of $500 or more, is entitled to public defender services. A “needy” or “indigent” person is one “who, at the time his need is determined, is unable to provide for the payment of an attorney and all other necessary expenses of representation.”
In order to receive the help of a public defender lawyer you must ask your judge to appoint the public defender. You should hire a lawyer or ask the court for a public defender at your first court appearance and before you consider any offer from the prosecutor. Many judges in Kentucky will require that you first fill out an “Affidavit of Indigency.” In the “Affidavit of Indigency” the court will require you to tell them personal information about your finances. This is required, and if you refuse to disclose your finances there is a chance that the Court will not appoint a lawyer to help you.
It is helpful to fill out this form before you go to court, or before your friend or family member is brought to court from the jail. Some judges will not wait for you to fill out this form in court, and will set you for another court date where you can ask for a lawyer. If you walk in with the form completed, they may consider your request on that court date. The form can be downloaded HERE
. You can also request a paper copy of the Affidavit of Indigency from the Clerk's Office at your local courthouse.
If you have any questions about the “Affidavit of Indigency” you can contact the Department of Public Advocacy at 502-564-8006 or via email under the “contact us” link.