Did you know there are four types of attorneys that can be assigned to criminal defendants?
When a defendant advises the court they cannot afford an attorney, but want to have a one assigned to their case, the criminal law attorney may come from one of the following four offices in San Diego County:
Office of the Public Defender (PD)
Criminal attorneys from the Public Defender office are available to individuals charged with a crime in state court and who are financially unable to hire a private attorney.
Office of the Alternate Public Defender (APD)
When there is more than one person charged with a crime in the same case and one of the defendants is assigned a criminal law attorney from the PD office, then the other defendant(s) can be assigned a lawyer from the Alternate Public Defender office. This is to avoid a conflict of interest that could occur if one lawyer represented more than one defendant in the same case. This office also picks up cases that the PD cannot take on, for a variety of reasons.
Multiple Conflicts Office (MCO)
Criminal attorneys from the Multiple Conflicts Office generally represent individuals charged with very complicated and serious homicide and special circumstances cases. However, they may also take cases that the PD or APD offices are unable to accept. While it lives under the Office of the Public Defender, the MCO is a separate division from the PD and APD offices.
Office of Assigned Counsel (OAC)
When a criminal law attorney from the PD or APD office is unable to take on a criminal case, then an attorney from the OAC can be assigned to the case. Sometimes, the PD or APD offices cannot take on a case due to conflict of interest or other reasons.