You will have lots of questions about your case, and your public defender. Frequently asked questions are listed below. If you do not find the answer to your question here, please contact by selecting the "Contact Us" tab from the top of this page. We will respond to you as quickly as possible.
WHO IS MY LAWYER?
If you are indigent and qualify for a public defender, the court will appoint you an attorney. These attorneys are also called a Public Defender or in Kentucky, an Assistant Public Advocate. The Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) represents all persons who have an attorney appointed by the court. DPA has 33 offices, and is located in all 120 counties of the Commonwealth. To find the office that will handle your case, search each office by county in the "Our Locations" tab, located above.
Once the Court has appointed DPA to represent you, your case will be sent to your local DPA office. The office will then assign your case to one of the lawyers working in the office. To find out the name of your lawyer, call the office and ask to speak with the Administrative Assistant or Office Manager. They can often tell who will be assigned your case based on your county of arrest and type of charge. Please understand that it sometimes takes a little time for your case to be assigned. If it is an emergency and you need to speak with a lawyer immediately, be sure to tell the Administrative Assistant or Office Manager.
WHEN IS MY NEXT COURT DATE?
Your first court date will be your arraignment. This date will be given to you by the police, if you are not arrested at the time you are charged. If you are arrested, then the date will be given to you when you are released on bond. If you are not released on bond, then you will be arraigned at the next available court date. You can look up your next court date on the
Kentucky Court of Justice Website
WHEN IS MY TRIAL?
When you are first arrested you will not have a trial date. Trial dates are often set after several appearances in Court. This gives you the opportunity to meet with your lawyer, gather all of your discovery, investigate your case, and discuss any questions you have about your case. Once the trial date is set, your attorney will give it to you. If you have lost your trial date, be sure to call your attorney immediately. It is very harmful if you do not show up for any court date, but this is especially true before your trial date. It is also important that you know the date so you can meet with your lawyer regularly before your scheduled trial date.
IS MY PUBLIC DEFENDER A LAWYER?
Yes, your public defender is a lawyer. In order to serve as a public defender, an attorney must have completed law school at an American Bar Associated accredited law school, passed the Kentucky bar exam, and been selected among numerous candidates for a position with the Department of Public Advocacy. In the past, there have been rumors that public defenders must first practice for free before becoming a full lawyer. That rumor is false. Public Defenders with the Department of Public Advocacy are already full attorneys who have picked a career in helping those who cannot afford an attorney. Many public defenders devote their entire career to public defense because they are passionate about criminal law and making sure that every person has a skilled attorney fighting on their behalf.
WOULD I BE BETTER OFF HIRING A PRIVATE ATTORNEY?
Attorneys at the Department of Public Advocacy practice nothing but criminal law. This makes them experts in the field of criminal matters, and very familiar with the courts, judges and prosecutors in their jurisdiction. Attorneys also have access to all other attorneys in the state when they have questions, and have been through extensive training that is provided through the Department of Public Advocacy.
WHY WON'T MY SON'S PUBLIC DEFENDER SPEAK TO ME ABOUT HIS CASE?
The attorneys and other members of the Department of Public Advocacy are ethically required to protect your son (or other loved one). Part of protecting a client means that we cannot speak to anybody else about their case. This includes members of the family or close friends. If you were to overhear a harmful attorney-client privileged conversation or if we shared information with you that could harm your loved one, you could be called to court by the prosecutor to testify. For those reasons, we cannot discus the case with you.
WHAT OTHER CONSEQUENCES COULD THERE BE FROM A GUILTY PLEA OR CONVICTION AT TRIAL?
Criminal convictions often come with lots of consequences that have nothing to do with the criminal justice system. These consequences are called "collateral consequences." For example, a criminal conviction may make you ineligible for government benefits (including housing), suspend your driving privileges, make you ineligible to host a field trip at your child's school, cause you to lose student aide, or make it so you can't get certain jobs. Make sure that you speak with your lawyer about your life and your life goals so they can make sure that a guilty plea or conviction at trial will not have unintended collateral conseqeuences.
The American Bar Association
created a database that logs the collateral consequences of a guilty plea. Before entering a guilty plea or deciding to proceed to trial, be sure that you double check the potential collateral consequences of your decision.
HOW DO I FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST MY PUBLIC DEFENDER?
If your attorney is assigned from a trial office, you should first speak with the Directing Attorney of the office where your attorney works. This person may be able to address your issues or concerns. If the Directing Attorney has not adequately addressed your concerns, please contact the Regional Manager.
Bluegrass Region Region Manager: Rodney Barnes can be reached by email or by phone at 502-782-0080
- Cynthiana: Harrison, Nicholas, Pendleton & Robertson Counties
- Frankfort: Franklin County
- Georgetown: Bourbon, Scott & Woodford Counties
- LaGrange: Henry, Oldham & Trimble
- Lexington North: Fayette
- Lexington South: Fayette
- Shelby: Anderson, Shelby & Spencer
Central Regional Manager: Jennifer Wittmeyer can be reached by
email or by phone at 833-254-2465
- Bowling Green: Allen, Butler, Edmonson, Simpson & Warren Counties
- Bullitt: Bullitt & Nelson Counties
- Elizabethtown: Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue & Meade Counties
- Glasgow: Barren, Hart, Metcalfe & Monroe Counties
- Owensboro: Daviess, Hancock & Ohio Counties
Eastern Regional Manager: Traci Hancock can be reached by
email or by phone at 833-254-2461
- Bell: Bell County
- Harlan: Harlan County
- Hazard: Knott, Letcher & Perry Counties
- London: Clay, Knot, Laurel, Leslie & Whitley Counties
- Pikeville: Pike County
- Prestonsburg: Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin & Martin Counties
Northern Regional Manager: Brian Hewlett can be reached by email or by phone at 833-385-6052
- Boone: Boone, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant & Owen Counties
- Boyd: Boyd, Carter, Greenup, Lawrence & Lewis Counties
- Covington: Kenton County
- Maysville: Bracken, Fleming & Mason Counties
- Morehead: Bath, Elliott, Menife, Montgomery, Morgan & Rowan Counties
- Newport: Campbell County
Southern Regional Manager: Shanda West-Stiles can be reached by email or by phone at 833-254-2467
- Columbia: Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, Marion, Taylor & Washington Counties
- Danville: Boyle, Lincoln & Mercer Counties
- Nicholasville: Gerrard & Jessamine Counties
- Richmond: Clark, Jackson & Madison Counties
- Somerset: McCreary, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell & Wayne Counties
- Stanton: Breathitt, Estill, Lee, Owsley, Powell & Wolfe Counties
Western Regional Manager: Eric Stovall can be reached by
email or by phone at 270-824-7001
- Henderson: Crittenden, Henderson, Union & Webster Counties
- Hopkinsville: Caldwell, Christian, Logan, Lyon, Todd & Trigg Counties
- Madisonville: Hopkins, McLean & Muhlenberg Counties
- Murray: Calloway, Graves & Marshall Counties
- Paducah: Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman, Livingston & McCracken Counties
If the Regional Manager does not adequately address yoru concerns or questions, please contact Amy Reister at the Office of the Trial Division Director by
email or phone: 502-782-9089. POST TRIAL DIVISIONIf your attorney is helping you with an appeal or a
post-conviction, you should first speak with the Manager of the office
where your attorney works. This person may be able to address your
issues or concerns.
If the Manager has not adequately
addressed your concerns, please contact the Branch Manager. If the
Branch Manager cannot answer your question, email the Division Director.