How do I qualify for a public defender?
You must be appointed a public defender by a judge. This usually happens at First Appearances. If the judge appoints OPD, you will be assigned an attorney within one business day of the appointment. If the judge does not appoint OPD to represent you, then you should try to hire a private attorney. Once you’ve discussed your case with private attorneys, if it becomes clear that you can’t afford to hire one, you should go back to your judge (or a family member, if still in jail) to explain why you can’t hire a private attorney and why you might need a public defender. You will need to bring any and all documentation you have of your income (public assistance letters like a food stamps card or a section 8 voucher; check stubs from work; documentation of excessive bills you must pay). OPD can never provide an attorney to someone unless directly appointed by a judge.
Sometimes a judge may ask you to fill out an application with OPD to see if you qualify for a public defender. If that happens, come to our office and fill out the application with us. Once completed, bring the application back to the judge for review. Note that EVEN IF our office says that you qualify for a public defender, OPD CAN NOT give you a lawyer unless the judge appoints us to represent you.
(as of 8/8/12)
Different facilities have different rules about what can be delivered on package day, but all the facilities agree that once an inmate has received a package he/she cannot receive another for 90 days (even though package day generally occurs at least once a month). None of the facilities will accept pajamas with draw strings and they only accept flat, white, twin sheets. The different jails generally require that inmates fill out some sort of package request forma and have it approved before the designated package day. Whoever delivers the package must have a picture ID. The different policies at the different jails are laid out below.
Below are the main ways to post a bond and information on how to do it. Keep in mind that if you post someone’s bond, you are ensuring their presence in court. If that person doesn’t return to court, you could end up owing the full value of the bond to the court.
- Post the full bond with cash - The easiest way is to pay the bond at the Sheriff’s office at 730 S Dupre St. 24 hours a day for both Criminal District and Municipal Court charges. A $30 fee is charged for posting the full bond. This can also be done in the courthouse in the Clerk’s office during business hours, 9am – 3pm, Monday – Friday, for a $10 fee. In Municipal Court, bonds can be paid in the designated courtroom only while that section is in session. Municipal Court only accepts cash.
- If you are OUT OF STATE, you can post the full bond with a money order through Western Union. Details on how to do that can be found here.
- Post the bond through a bail bondsman - This is known as a commercial surety bond. Most bondsmen charge between 13% and 15% of the total bond amount and many will negotiate a down payment and payment plan if necessary. These are simply common examples. Each bondsman is different and each situation is different.
- The primary difference between posting the full bond and going through a bondsman is when using a bondsman, you never get your money back. It is a fee to the bondsman for posting your full bond with the court. If you post the full cash bond with the court and the person you bonded out goes to all court dates, the full bond is returned.
- Put up a house or other land as a property bond - This is known as a secured personal surety bond. In order to post a property bond, you must have as much equity in your house as the value of the bond. Instructions can be found here.
- Sometimes a judge will offer an Unsecured Personal Surety Bond. This option is only available if the judge expressly offers this option. It is usually called a “PSBU” or a “Personal Surety Bond.” In order to post a personal surety bond, someone must come to the courtroom that set the PSBU, sign a document ensuring the person returns to court, and pay a $250 non-refundable fee.
This is a listing of what you can expect during the life of your case. While each case varies depending on case specifics, these are the typical court settings. You and your attorney will have a case strategy and your attorney can help explain how each setting will affect your case.
The first court hearing after every arrest is your First Appearance. Here a magistrate or judge determines if there is enough evidence presented to support your arrest and a bond is set. For many state misdemeanor or city charges you may have a pre-set bond upon arrest, though for others you will have a first appearance at Municipal Court as described above. Judges can reconsider bond at any time, but until you have a bond set you can not get released as long as you still have open charges. Some people will get a free bond, known as a Release on Recognizance (ROR), which means that no bond must be paid to be released; unfortunately, this is uncommon. See 'Bond Information' for instructions on paying your bond.
The Louisiana Justice Coalition and the Louisiana State Public Defender Board has released a report on the consequences of a conviction. You can download the report in English or Spanish by clicking below. We hope that this will help our clients make informed decisions throughout the course of their case.