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Public Defender

Contact Information, Office Hours
Functions, Office Responsibilities
FAQ's, Common Terms, History, Interesting Facts

Functions

Legal Representation for low income adults and juveniles

The Charleston County Public Defender’s Office is a community funded law firm that delivers on the promise of “justice for all” in our state courts. Low income persons who need the court’s help to obtain defense counsel receive comprehensive, client centered representation. This office is an efficient means of meeting the South Carolina and federal constitutional requirements of the right to counsel whenever a person below federal poverty guidelines is charged with an offense that could cost them their liberty. The State Legislature and Charleston County provide financial support. The office handles cases in state General Sessions Court, Transfer Court and Probation Violation Court. Local Magistrates may appoint public defenders in cases that threaten a jail sentence. The North Charleston Municipal Court contracts with the office for indigency screening and a part-time public defender. The office also represents many of the youth who are charged with crimes/delinquency in Family Court. The office is managed by the Ninth Circuit Public Defender, who is selected by the Charleston County Bar Association and the SC Commission on Indigent Defense.

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This Office Does

dot  Provide legal representation to low income citizens charged with serious crimes
dot  Represent in Family Court juvenile defendants charged with crimes
dot  Handle cases for citizens who are indigent and are facing an immediate jail sentence without an available alternative sentence or a fine

This Office Does Not

dot  Handle civil, divorce or child custody cases. For attorney information, call the S.C. Lawyers Referral Service at (800) 868-2284 or the Legal Service Agency (843) 720-7044.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does one qualify to be represented by a public defender?
A: Applicants must complete and sign a financial affidavit. To qualify, applicants are interviewed at the Detention Center or the Public Defender's Office.

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Common Terms

Indigent --A person without the funds or ability to hire a private attorney.

Jail Liaison-- An employee who assists in attorney and inmate communications, monitors the Detention Center population, and assists in making sure inmates are released from jail in a timely manner after sentencing.

History

The S.C. General Assembly created County Public Defender's Offices in 1973 as a vehicle to provide legal representation for indigent defendants.

Interesting Facts

dot  Each year, this office represents over 7,000 persons who are charged with major offenses in the adult felony court, over 1,600 persons in family court and over 500 in Magistrate courts.
dot  In 1995, the National Association of Counties awarded to the Charleston County Public Defender's and Sheriff 's Offices its Achievement Award for their shared Liaison Program.

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Contact Information

Public Defender
O.T. Wallace County Office Building
101 Meeting Street, 5th Floor
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 958-1850
(843) 958-1860 (Fax)

Office Hours

Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Juvenile Screening
(in the office)
Wednesday
11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Adult Screening
(in the office)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
2 p.m.-4 p.m.

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