Public Defender Program

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a public defender?
A public defender is a court-appointed attorney.  A Mesa public defender is an attorney in private practice who has been hired by the City of Mesa to represent appointed cases in the Mesa Municipal Court.

Are public defenders real licensed attorneys?

Yes.  Public defenders are licensed attorneys in the State of Arizona.

How do I get a public defender?

Not all cases qualify for a public defender.  This determination is made by the judge in the courtroom.  If your case qualifies, then you may be eligible based on your financial circumstances.

What types of cases do public defenders handle?

Public defenders handle any type of criminal misdemeanor charges to which the court appoints them.

Will a public defender represent me if I am from another state? Or a citizen of another country?

Yes.  If you are charged with a crime in the City of Mesa your public defender will represent you regardless of the location of your permanent residence or citizenship.

What is the cost for a public defender?

This depends on the defendant’s ability to pay, which is determined by the judge in the courtroom. 

Can I speak to a public defender before my first court appearance?

No.  A public defender is not appointed prior to your first court appearance.

I forgot my court date. How do I find out when it is?

You can use the Search for A Ticket option in eCourt to see your upcoming court date, or contact your assigned public defender or attorney.

How can I get an extension on my court date?

For criminal cases, a Motion to Continue must be filed by your attorney or assigned public defender.  If you do not have an attorney or public defender, you can use the Motion to Continue form to file your request.  You may also appear prior to your court date in person.  All motions to continue are subject to the judge’s approval. 

Can an alleged victim “drop the charges” in my case?

After charges have been filed against you, it is the City Prosecutor's Office that makes the decision to prosecute you, rather than the alleged victim.  

What do I do if there is a warrant for my arrest?

If you are represented by an attorney or public defender, contact them first.  If you are not represented by an attorney or public defender then contact the Mesa Municipal Court by phone at (480) 644-2255 or come to the court.  For more information, please go to the Warrants page.

How do I get a conviction removed from my record?

Your public defender does not represent you in vacating or expunging a conviction.  You can use the Criminal Set-Aside form to apply for the conviction to be set aside.  If granted by a judge, the conviction will be dismissed.  The dismissal is reported to the Department of Public Safety and the Motor Vehicle Department (if applicable).