The New Jersey Office of the Public Defender provides constitutionally
mandated legal representation for adults and juveniles charged with
criminal offenses who are unable to afford private lawyers. Once
you have been found by the court to be eligible for public defender
services, you are guaranteed certain rights as a public defender
client. You also have certain responsibilities as a client including
an obligation to pay reasonable costs of your representation.
Your lawyer must exercise independent, professional judgment during
the course of representation provided for you. After consulting
with you, the lawyer can decide what witnesses to call, whether
and how to conduct cross examination, what jurors to accept or seek
to have dismissed, what trial motions to make and any other decisions
of a strategic or tactical nature.
It is extremely important that you not file any motions with the
court on your own or send letters concerning your case to anyone
other than lawyers or investigators working for the Office of the
Public Defender. These letters could otherwise be used as evidence
Do not discuss your case with anyone except your lawyer or investigator.
Whatever you tell us is private and confidential. Remember that
what you may tell a police officer, a corrections officer, a prosecutor,
a paralegal, a social worker, a fellow inmate, or even a relative
or friend is not legally private and could be used against you in
court. Any of these people could become a witness against you without
If anyone other than your lawyer or investigator seeks to talk to
you about yourself or the charges against you, do not answer. Instead,
contact your lawyer or investigator as soon as possible. You have
a constitutional right to remain silent. Use that right.
Any questions or concerns about your case should be directed to
your lawyer. If you are in jail, questions about bail should also
be discussed directly with your lawyer. Any independent action could
interfere with your best possible defense.
Your lawyer has no authority to represent you on domestic violence
complaints, traffic violations, or civil charges. You should advise
your lawyer, however, of any such charges that may be pending against
you including any from other states.
For further information, contact the Public Defender Office in the
county where you have been charged. Check