How does someone become a client of the Public Defender of Indiana?

Published 03/12/2015 03:43 PM   |    Updated 12/06/2016 10:25 PM
How does someone become a client of the Public Defender of Indiana?

In non-capital cases (the sentence is a term of years or life without parole), the person seeking representation must:

1) file a petition for post-conviction relief in the court where the conviction was entered. A petition is filed on a form that is available in all Indiana Department of Correction institutional law libraries, by writing to the Public Defender of Indiana, or online at;

2) answer "Yes" on Question 18(a) of the form, which asks "Do you wish to have the Public Defender represent you?" Any answer other than "Yes" on Question 18(a), such as no, maybe, not at this time, etc., results in loss of the right to representation by the Public Defender; and

3) complete the Affidavit of Indigency portion of the form.

The Public Defender of Indiana, as a general rule, does not provide representation for an appeal where the post-conviction litigation in the trial court was done pro se or by hired counsel.

The trial judge, pursuant to Ind. Post-Conviction Rule 1(2), upon making a finding of indigency (lack of ability to pay), shall allow the petitioner to proceed without payment of a filing fee, and upon further finding that the petitioner is incarcerated and has requested representation, shall order a copy of the petition sent to the Public Defender of Indiana.

In capital cases, representation by the Public Defender of Indiana is automatic if the petitioner is indigent. The office will enter an appearance within thirty days of completion of rehearing on direct appeal, as required by Ind. Criminal Rule 24(H).
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