Frequently Asked Questions

When can I get an attorney?

If you are facing criminal charges in Jackson County, you will be arraigned before a Judge or Magistrate in the 12th District Court. At that time, you will be given the opportunity to apply for an appointed attorney. If you qualify, the Public Defender's Office will be appointed or one of the County's contract counsel.

Additionally, the Public Defender's Office makes attorney's available for every arraignment in the 12th District Court, so an attorney will be able to assist you with your arraignment. If you have an arraignment scheduled in the 12th District Court and have questions, please call our office.

Do I have to pay for an attorney?

An attorney from the Public Defender's Office is made available, free of charge, to assist with arraignments in the 12th District Court. To continue with an appointed attorney, you will need to apply and be approved. 

If approved for a Public Defender or other Court Appointed attorney, you may be assessed an attorney fee based on your ability to pay. Payment will not be required prior to us representing you, but the fee may be included by the Court in any fines or costs assessed against you.

How do I contact my attorney?

If you were appointed an attorney from our office, you may contact our office at 517-768-6842. Additionally, our roster of attorneys with direct contact information is available on the left-hand side of this page. If you do not know who your attorney is, our office will be able to assist you.

What kind of cases do you handle?

The Public Defender's Office only handles criminal cases appointed by the Court. We no not currently handle family law, landlord-tenant, or other civil matters.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

A misdemeanor offense is one that typically has a jail exposure less than one year. These cases are handled entirely in the District Court.

A felony is an offense that typically has exposure to a term of imprisonment of over one year. Felony cases have two stages, first in the District Court and second in the Circuit Court.

A special instances is a high-court misdemeanor. A high-court misdemeanor is an offense with up to two years of jail or prison exposure. Often these are treated as a felony.