El Paso County Public Defender
500 E. San Antonio
El Paso, Texas 79901
Phone (915) 546-8185
Fax (915) 534-8186
El Paso County Public Defender
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
- How do I get a Public Defender to represent me?
- The courts make that decision. The first determination made by the courts is whether a person who is charged with having committed an offense is "indigent." If the person is determined to be indigent the court will appoint a "court-appointed attorney." The court-appointed attorney may or may not be an attorney employed by the Public Defender's Office
- What does it mean to be indigent?
- For purposes of legal representation a person who is indigent is a person who cannot afford to hire, or retain, an attorney to represent them in a pending legal matter. The determination of what qualifies a person for indigency for this purpose is made based on economic information given to the court either through the Office of Court Administration (for misdemeanors), or through the Counsel of Judges (for felonies).
- What is a Public Defender?
- A Public Defender is an attorney who works for the Public Defender's Office and hence, accepts court-appointed cases. Not all "court-appointed attorneys" are Public Defenders but all Public Defenders are "court-appointed attorneys."
- What is a court-appointed attorney?
- A court-appointed attorney is an attorney who accepts court appointed cases, primarily but not exclusively in criminal or juvenile cases. Some court-appointed attorneys work for the Public Defender's Office. Others work in private practice.
- What does an indictment mean?
- An indictment is the document which the Grand Jury must complete for someone to be taken to court for a felony.
- What does 28.01 hearing mean?
- 28.01 refers to Article 28.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure which guarantees accused individuals the right to file written pleading (or motions) with the Court. These motions are used by accused individuals to tell the judge that they wish the Judge to have a hearing on certain issues, or to invoke their rights under the United States and Texas Constitutions.
- What does pre-trial mean?
- Courts frequently hold pre-trial hearings so that defense attorneys and prosecutors can meet with the judge to discuss the allegations against an accused individual in a case, the plea bargain which the prosecutors are offering, and what kinds of hearings may need to be held on the case.
- When someone gets their bond reduced, does the family get their own bondsman?
- There are two types of bond which an accused individual can receive at a bond reduction. The first is called a PR or personal recognizance bond. With a PR bond, the accused individual is his or her own bondsman and is released on his or her promise to appear before the Judge for all hearings on his or her case. A person on a PR bond usually also has to pay a bond premium of 3% of the total amount of the bond and has to report to the personal recognizance bond office. While reporting to the PR bond office, he or she may be required to undergo a drug/alcohol evaluation, and/or submit to drug and alcohol testing. Persons on PR bonds also usually have a curfew as a condition of their bond.
- The second type of bond is called a surety bond. This is the type of bond where an accused usually goes to see a bondsman. The Public Defender's Office CAN NOT recommend surety bondsmen. There are a number of bondsmen in El Paso, and a list of bondsmen can be found in the Yellow Pages.