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DPA provides legal representation to clients statewide

The right to counsel stands above all other constitutional protections


DPA provides counsel to its clients, working to ensure individual constitutional guarantees are provided to citizens. “In all criminal prosecutions the accused has the right to be heard by himself and counsel….” Section 11, KY Constitution (1891).

The Department of Public Advocacy is Kentucky’s largest statewide law firm with 33 trial offices and appellate and post-conviction units.  Kentucky public defenders have the responsibility to represent clients who are charged with a crime and are unable to afford counsel and who face a loss of liberty or their life. Courts appoint DPA and the department assigns an attorney to provide representation. DPA provides represents  clients at trial, on appeal and in post-conviction actions.  

“Of all the rights that an accused person has, the right to be represented by counsel is by far the most pervasive for it affects his ability to assert any other rights he may have.” U.S. v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 654 (1984).

Kentucky’s statewide defender program does nationally-recognized, innovative work that provides Kentucky taxpayers with a criminal justice system that has integrity in the way it determines if a person’s life or liberty should be taken. DPA lowers costs for the criminal justice system by ensuring against the overreach of government,  being present at first appearances and advocating for pretrial release; advocating for reduced sentences based on the facts of the case; developing alternative sentencing options that avoid incarceration and provide individually based treatment; assisting clients upon adjudication with reentry needs including, employment and housing; and preventing and correcting expensive wrongful convictions.
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