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The Department of Public Defense provides attorneys for several different case types in King County Superior and District Courts and Seattle Municipal Court. Please click on the words below to read about the types of cases DPD attorneys handle.

Case types

These are adult criminal cases filed in King County Superior Court for crimes occurring anywhere within King County. Felonies are punishable by more than one year in a state prison. The cases are prosecuted by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

What to do if you have been charged with a felony:

  • If you are out of jail:
    You need to have a financial interview to see if you qualify for a public defender. You can either come to any DPD office prior to your arraignment or meet with a DPD screener at your arraignment. In either case, there will be an attorney available to represent you at your arraignment. If you qualify for a public defender, you will be assigned to one of the divisions at your arraignment.
  • If you are in jail:
    DPD will assign your case to a public defense division prior to your arraignment. You can call DPD at 206-296-7662 to find out which division you’ve been assigned to. (This is a free call from the jail.)  Your attorney will be at your arraignment. If there is a question about whether you qualify for a public defender, there will be a DPD screener at your arraignment.

These are adult criminal cases filed in King County District Court for crimes occurring in unincorporated King County. Misdemeanors are punishable by less than one year in the county jail. The cases are prosecuted by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

DPD also provides financial screening for misdemeanor cases for Shoreline Municipal Court, Kenmore Municipal Court and Redmond Municipal Court.

What to do if you have been charged with a misdemeanor:

  • If you are out of jail:
    You need to have a financial interview to see if you qualify for a public defender. You can either come to any DPD office prior to your arraignment or meet with a DPD screener at your arraignment. In either case, there will be an attorney available to represent you at your arraignment. If you qualify for a public defender, you will be assigned to a public defense division.
  • If you are in jail:
    Call the DPD office at 0-296-7662 (this is a free call from the jail) and provide the receptionist with your case information. A DPD screener will review your case and if you qualify, assign you to a public defense division. You may also wait until your arraignment and meet with a DPD screener then. In either case, there will be an attorney available to represent you at your arraignment.

These are appeals to misdemeanor cases filed in King County Superior Court. If you would like to file an appeal to your misdemeanor, you need to ask your attorney to do so at the end of your case. There is a time limit for filing an appeal.

Once the appeal has been filed, come to any DPD office for a financial screening. If you qualify for a public defender, an attorney will be assigned to you.

DPD appoints attorneys to children involved in Becca cases. There are three types of Becca cases:

  • At-Risk Youth:
    Cases when a parent files a petition with juvenile court to get help in the care and control of the child.
  • Child in Need of Services (CHINS)
    Cases when a child, parent or DSHS representative files a petition to remove the child from the home of his or her parent. A serious conflict must exist between the parent and reasonable efforts must have been made to fix the situation.
  • Truancy
    If a student has seven or more unexcused absences a month from school, the school must file a petition in juvenile court. If the student continues to be absent from school he or she may be found in contempt. DPD will appoint an attorney to the child if he or she is in contempt.

If you are involved in a Becca case:
An attorney will automatically be appointed to the child. This attorney will be there to represent you at your initial hearing. Parents involved in CHINS cases may receive a public defender. However, parents must first come to an DPD office for a financial screening to see if they qualify.

Someone who has failed to pay child support is in danger of being held in contempt of court, which has a possible jail penalty. If a King County judge decides to hold someone in contempt for not paying child support, DPD will provide an attorney for the contempt charge.

If you have been charged with contempt of court:
You need to have a financial interview to see if you qualify for a public defender. You can either come to any DPD office prior to your hearing or meet with a DPD screener at your hearing. If you qualify for a public defender, you will be assigned to a division at your next court appearance.

DPD represents parents and other legal guardians when the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is trying to take away your children. The state files a dependency petition to determine if the child is dependent on the state because the parent is unable to care for him or her. If the situation does not improve, the state may file a termination petition to permanently remove the child from the home. DPD will appoint a different attorney to each parent or guardian, if necessary. Children over the age of 12 may also be eligible to receive their own attorney. Cases are prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s office.

If you are involved in a dependency action:
Come to any DPD office for a financial screening. If you qualify for a public defender, an attorney will be appointed to you. There will be an attorney to represent you at your initial hearing.

People committed to a mental health facility against their will for either mental health or substance abuse disorders. DPD provides representation on these civil commitment cases. DPD appoints attorneys to these cases by court order.

These are criminal cases filed in King County Superior Court against those under 18, for crimes committed anywhere within King County. Cases are prosecuted by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

If you have been charged with a juvenile offender crime:
You will automatically be assigned an attorney. He or she will be present at your first hearing. Your parents or guardian are responsible for helping to pay for the attorney, if they can afford to do so. DPD will send a letter to your parents or guardian requesting financial information to determine if they are able to pay.

Lorinda Youngcourt

King County Public Defender
Lorinda Youngcourt

Read her biography.

If you'd like to invite Lorinda or someone else from the Department of Public Defense to speak to your organization, please send your request to DPD at dpd@kingcounty.gov.