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Once the court has decided that you do not have enough money to hire your own lawyer, and that you are therefore entitled to the services of a New Jersey Public Defender, you have the following responsibilities:

Pay a $50 administrative fee. This fee is payable at the time of your initial meeting with a public defender lawyer or investigator. It may be paid by check or money order (made out to the Office of the Public Defender) or in cash. If you are unable to pay, a deferred payment schedule can be arranged.

Meet as soon as possible with your lawyer. Discuss with the lawyer the facts and circumstances surrounding the charges against you. Your recollection of the events can be vital to your defense.

Make a commitment to assist your lawyer in gathering all necessary documents and other information that may help your case. Remember that all communications--written or oral--with police, prosecutors, the probation department, inmates or anyone else in the criminal justice system should be made through your lawyer.

Advise your lawyer of your current residence. You must notify your lawyer or your county public defender office of any change in your address or phone number during the course of your representation.

In addition to the administrative fee, you must by law pay the Office of the Public Defender for the reasonable costs of defender services once your case is completed. Public defender fees are for work such as interviews and investigations done outside the courtroom, plus other costs such as those for transcripts and expert witnesses. If you cannot pay the full amount at one time, a payment schedule can be arranged. Periodic bills will be sent to you until all costs are paid. The office also is required by law to place liens on your property to meet unpaid bills. State income tax refunds and Homestead rebates also can be withheld after two-years, under the Set-Off Individual Liability (SOIL) program. You will be required to sign a reimbursement form which signifies your agreement to pay these costs; however, failure to sign this form does not relieve you of your obligation to reimburse the Office of the Public Defender.