San Diego In Focus
Public Defender

Public Defender

The Public Defender is responsible for providing legal representation to indigent persons accused of crimes, including adults and juveniles charged with felonies and/or misdemeanors, and provides legal advice to all persons at arraignment unless retained counsel represents them.


Maintained the number of elapsed days between admission and sentencing in juvenile cases at 28 days or less to accelerate rehabilitation

Sealed 100% of requests from juvenile clients to assist in clearing their records to gain employment or participate in training and/or education programs

Filed 502 misdemeanor and 470 felony expungement requests to help clients obtain meaningful employment

Provided 72,427 volunteer hours

Resolved 99% of misdemeanor cases and 72% of felony cases prior to trial or preliminary hearing (when doing so benefitted the client more than litigation)

Completed 91% of mental health treatment plans within 2 weeks of referral for referred individuals about to be released from custody

Awards- 1 NACo Achievement Award

2018 NACo Achievement Award for “Defense Transition Unit” - The Public Defender’s Office Defense Transition Unit (DTU) assists with criminal cases in urgent need of mental health management. The DTU is built around two licensed mental health clinicians who work as part of the department’s criminal defense team, accepting referrals directly from attorneys. The clinicians assess the mental health needs of clients in custody within five days of a referral, with attorney supervision and support from paralegals. The clinicians then use their knowledge of community resources to arrange comprehensive mental health treatment, and prepare a treatment plan for use by attorneys, judges and the Probation Department. Finally, the DTU ensures that clients are transported directly from custody to mental health service providers. By more quickly linking mentally ill clients with the resources they need, the DTU intends to reduce recidivism among our most challenging clients. Often clients attend appointments while stable and motivated, and may be less likely to seek assistance through costly hospitalizations, crisis houses and other emergency responses. Ultimately, the unit expects to reduce recidivism and benefit the taxpayer while improving the quality of life for Public Defender clients


Public Defender