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303-764-1400 Applying for a Public Defender

Applying for a Colorado Public Defender

Public defenders only represent people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Contact any of the 21 trial offices for assistance in applying.

STEP 1: Fill out a Public Defender Application

If you are out of jail, fill out the Application for State Paid Professional completely. If you are under eighteen years of age, your parents, guardians or legal custodian must complete the Application for Public Defender in a Juvenile Delinquency Case.


Using a smartphone to complete the application?

If you are in jail, you automatically qualify for our services. Learn more about the first 48 hours after arrest.


STEP 2: Collect Proof of Income and Other Documentation

Proof of your or, where under 18, your parental/guardian/custodian income must be provided which may include:

  • Pay stubs
  • Income tax returns
  • Letters from employers
  • Award letters from SSI or unemployment

Supporting Documentation:

You may need information about the finances of other members of your household. Household income includes any family member living in the household who is working and contributing to the common support of the household. It does not include a roommate’s income unless you have access to and proprietary rights in your roommate’s income. Please refer to the Applications for Public Defender in Adult and Juvenile cases for more information regarding the required financial documentation or contact any public defender office.


STEP 3: Bring or Send to Any Public Defender Office

You can turn the application in at any of our 21 trial offices across the state regardless of where you are charged. Contact the closest office to you to get further instructions about whether you need to visit in-person or can send it in another way.

Conflicts of Interest – Alternate Defense Counsel

The Public Defender may find that it has a conflict of interest in representing you. The most common reason this happens is if you were accused of a crime along with other people who were also charged.

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Municipal or Federal Charges

The Colorado State Public Defender only represents people accused of crimes in Colorado state courts. We do not represent people who are accused in the municipal or federal courts.

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What to do if you don't qualify

CCDB is the state-wide organization of criminal defense lawyers.  Many people do not qualify for the services of OSPD because they do not meet the eligibility criteria.  The CCDB website has a Find A Lawyer service that will help people identify lawyers who practice in the jurisdiction where the charges have been filed and who have experience in the area of criminal law.  Potential clients have the ability to review information about these lawyers before they make a decision about who they might hire.

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