How do I get a court-appointed attorney?

If you have a pending criminal, juvenile, or contempt proceeding and wish to have an attorney court-appointed to represent you, you must complete a Financial Affidavit and Application for Appointment of Counsel.   The appropriate form for adult (criminal and contempt) cases is here, the form for juvenile cases is here, the form for parole revocation proceedings is here, and the form for 600A private termination of parental rights is here.   Submit your completed request to the Clerk of Court in the county in which your cases is pending.

Do I qualify for a court-appointed attorney?

You are only eligible for a court-appointed attorney to assist you with certain types of cases, such as criminal proceedings.  The court must also determine whether you are indigent.  More information about the indigency determination is available here

Will I have to pay for my court-appointed attorney?

Yes, generally speaking a person who is appointed an attorney is responsible for reimbursing the state the cost of the attorney and any other legal expenses incurred, such as expert witnesses, court reporters, or investigators, to the extent the person is reasonably able to pay the cost. The court typically makes a determination of your reasonable ability to pay at the conclusion of the case.  Juveniles in juvenile court proceedings generally are not required to reimburse the cost of their attorneys or guardians ad litem.

How do I contact my court-appointed attorney?

The name of your attorney or the public defender office appointed to represent you and phone number are generally listed on the court order appointing the attorney to represent you.  Check the paperwork that you received at the time of your initial appearance or arraignment for this information.  If you do not know the name of your attorney, you search for your case online or contact the Clerk of Court in the county in which your cases is pending.  Phone numbers and address for public defender offices are also available here.

I'm unhappy with my court-appointed attorney, what can I do?

A client does not get to select their court-appointed attorney.  If you have a concern, your first step should be to discuss your concern with the attorney.  If this does not resolve your concern and the attorney is a public defender, you can then contact the attorney's supervisor.  The supervisor of every public defender office is listed here.  If this does not resolve your concern, you may contact the State Public Defender at 321 E. 12th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319, and by phone at (515) 242-6158.   Private court-appointed attorneys are not supervised by the State Public Defender, but if you are unable to resolve your concerns directly with the attorney, you may address your complaints to the State Public Defender as well.   You may also write to the court and request that the court appoint a new attorney, but the court is not obligated to grant your request.