FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I obtain the services of a public defender?
In most cases deputy public defenders are appointed by the court. If you are charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney, ask the court to appoint a public defender at your first appearance before a judge. You may be asked to submit a financial declaration to determine eligibility. If you have questions about whether you need a public defender or qualify for one, call any of the branch offices listed on this web page.
Are public defenders lawyers?
Yes. All deputy public defenders are lawyers licensed to practice law by the California State Bar. Orange County Deputy Public Defenders are widely recognized as among the best criminal defense lawyers.
If I am arrested, should I talk to the police?
If you are arrested, you should request to speak to a lawyer and obtain advice from a lawyer before answering police questions. For more information click here: FindLaw Library
The police didn't read me my rights, do I get my case dismissed?
Probably not. Not being properly advised of your Constitutional rights may have consequences that will impact the ultimate outcome of your case, but the mere fact that you were not properly advised does not mean your case is automatically dismissed. It is an issue that should be brought to the attention of your attorney so that appropriate legal remedies can be sought.
How do I get my sentence modified?
If you want to ask the sentencing judge to modify your sentence you can do so by filing a Petition for Modification of Sentence (click here for a Petition for Modification of Sentence form - Adobe Acrobat Reader required - download Adobe Acrobat Free Reader) or you can write a letter to the sentencing judge which clearly states your case number, current sentence and your reasons for requesting the modification. For assistance contact the Orange County Public Defender "New Leaf" program. The court seldom modifies sentences unless there are compelling reasons to do so. For more information, contact your attorney or e-mail us.
How do I get an old case removed from my record?
As to certain offenses the California Penal Code Section 1203.4 allows the court, in the interests of justice, to permit you to withdraw a previously entered guilty plea and have your case dismissed if you have fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation or have been discharged from probation. To obtain a dismissal under this section you must file a Petition (click here for a 1203.4 Petition and Order form - Adobe Acrobat Reader required - download Adobe Acrobat Free Reader) in the jurisdiction where the prior conviction occurred seeking an Order by the court to grant relief under Penal Code Section 1203.4. The court will calendar your request for a hearing before a judge. If your old case was a felony conviction you may be eligible to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. You should consult an attorney prior to filing your petition. For more information, see the Orange County Public Defender "New Leaf" program or read California Penal Code Section 1203.4 and California Penal Code Section 17(b).
What if my record is incorrect?
If you think the information in your criminal history record is incorrect, you may submit a formal challenge to the Department of Justice. But first: 1. You must obtain a copy of your record from the Department in accordance with California Penal Code § 11120-11127. BCII form 8706 “Claim of Inaccuracy or Incompleteness” will be mailed to you with your record. 2. Complete form 8706 and submit it and any/all supporting documentation to the Department of Justice to the address provided on the form. The challenge will be reviewed and you will receive a written response with an amended copy of your criminal history record if appropriate.
How long will it take to receive a response?
Depending on the information in your record, processing can take up to several weeks.
Can my request be expedited for an additional charge?
No. The Department of Justice does not offer expedited service.
How do I get arrest or court disposition information removed from my criminal history record?
Arrest and court disposition info can only be modified by court order or at the direction of the arresting agency/district attorney having jurisdiction over the criminal matter. The Department policy is to retain criminal history info until the subject of the record reaches 100 years of age.
In State –
Live Scan Instructions http://ag.ca.gov/fingerprints/pdf/instructions.pdf
Live Scan Form BCII 8016RR http://ag.ca.gov/fingerprints/forms/bcii_rr_8016.pdf
Live Scan Sites (by county) http://ag.ca.gov/fingerprints/publications/contact.php
Out of State –
Manual Rap Sheet request form BCII 8705 http://ag.ca.gov/fingerprints/forms/BCII_8705.pdf
How do I apply for employment with the Orange County Public Defender?
Available positions are posted on the OCPD Employment page and Orange County Home Page. Follow application instructions and you will be notified when a recruitment for a position you are interested in is occurring.
Other helpful resources:
Criminal Law & Procedure - articles compiled by Findlaw address frequently asked questions about criminal law and procedure.
OCPD Home Page | Orange County Home Page