Official Website of Shelby County Indiana Government
Q1. How do I get a public defender?
Answer: The Court will make a determination of whether you are entitled to a Public Defender. If you are found to be Indigent and eligible, an Attorney from our office will be appointed.


Q2. How do I know who my public defender is?
Answer: Once the Court has determined that you are eligible for a Public Defender, the case files are brought to our office. The office staff then will assign the cases to an Attorney. After the case has been assigned to an Attorney, YOU will then receive a letter in the mail stating your next Court date and information regarding who your Attorney is and how to contact them.


Q3. How do I contact my Public Defender?
Answer: Once our clients receive the information in the mail, you then may contact your Attorney by telephone. Another option for our clients is they may send their Attorney mail to the attorneys’ office or, as a last resort, our office at the address provided under Contact Information. To make sure the mail gets to the correct Attorney, please provide the Attorney’s name on the front of the envelope.


Q4. Can my spouse, parent, or best friend talk to my Public Defender for me?

Answer: No. The attorney-client privilege applies and the attorney can not discuss the case without the express, written authorization signed by client and delivered to the Public defender. Long distance telephone calls usually are not returned at the option of the attorney since no reimbursement for those expenses is provided.

Please understand that our public defenders spend substantial time in the Courtroom and may not be available to return your calls right away. If you would leave a detailed message on his/her voicemail with your contact information then the Attorney can then contact you back at their earliest convenience. You may also contact one of their paralegals.

If you have an emergency (i.e. you can’t make it to your Court date) and you can’t reach either your Public Defender or a Paralegal, you must contact the Court directly.


Q5. How can I get my conviction appealed?
Answer: Advise the Attorney who represented you at the trial that you wish to appeal your conviction. If you are determined to be indigent by the Court, our office will be appointed to represent you on the appeal.


Q6. What do I do if I want to pursue an appeal of a plea agreement, file for a sentence modification or file a post conviction relief petition?
Answer: Any defendant who wants to appeal his/her plea agreement or who wants to file for post conviction relief may not be represented by the Public Defender Agency. They will only pursue the matter if you are still incarcerated. They should contact the Office of the State Public Defender in Indianapolis who can be reached at 317-232-2475. Our office does not handle sentence modifications or post conviction relief petitions.


Q7. IF YOU HAVE A CASE, Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your Attorney.
Answer: Inmates, co-defendants and sometimes associates are looking for opportunities to provide information to the police or prosecution to help their own cases or to get themselves out of trouble. They frequently will wind up testifying against you.


Q8. IF YOU HAVE A CASE, Do not write letters to the police, prosecutor or judge about your case.
Answer: These letters will often times become evidence against you at trial or will lead to the discovery of evidence that can be used against you.


Q9. IF YOU HAVE A CASE, Do not speak to or give statements to the police about your case.
Answer: If you decide to speak with the police, it should only be after you and your Attorney have determined that it is in your best interest to do so. Any agreement providing for your cooperation should be in writing. You should not try to represent yourself in this regard.


Q10. IF YOU HAVE A CASE, Do not contact the alleged victim or the state’s witnesses either directly or indirectly.
Answer: Contact with the alleged victims may constitute a new criminal offense with which you could be charged. Furthermore, contact with victims or witnesses will probably be communicated to either the judge or jury and may appear as though you are trying to influence the witness.


Q11. If you make bond?

Answer: Contact the Public Defender’s Office to give them an address and phone number that you can be reached at so you and your Attorney can meet to discuss your case. If your Attorney is not available, you may leave a message with a secretary.



Q12. If you are incarcerated and unable to make bond?
Answer: Our office makes every effort to visit you within 72 hours of being appointed to your case. Your Attorney will meet with you as soon as they can. SEE BELOW.


Q13. Suggestions? Maximize your time with your Attorney during your visits.
Answer: You need to assist in the preparation of your defense. If you have witnesses, be sure to have their names and a way to contact them. If there are items of evidence (letters, photos, etc.) which may be important to your defense, advise your Attorney or the Paralegal of their existence so that they be preserved.


Q14. Suggestions? You are entitled to have information about your case which your Attorney can provide.
Answer:Your Attorney will make personal contact with you when they have important information to discuss or need to work with you in preparation for your trial. Their job does not include visiting you in the jail to keep you company or acting as a messenger service to outside contacts.