Indigency

Under Iowa Code §815.9, a person is “indigent” if the person is entitled to an attorney appointed by the court as follows:

a. The person has an income level at or below one hundred twenty-five percent of the United States poverty level as defined by the most recently revised poverty income guidelines published by the United States department of health and human services, unless the court determines that the person is able to pay for the cost of an attorney to represent the person on the pending case.

b. A person with an income level greater than one hundred twenty-five percent, but at or below two hundred percent, of the poverty income guidelines is not entitled to an attorney appointed by the court, unless the court makes a written finding that not appointing counsel on the pending case would cause the person substantial financial hardship.

c. A person with an income level greater than two hundred percent of the poverty income guidelines is not entitled to an attorney appointed by the court, unless the person is charged with a felony and the court makes a written finding that not appointing counsel would cause the person substantial financial hardship.

In determining whether substantial hardship would result, the court shall consider not only the person's income, but also the availability of any assets subject to execution, including but not limited to cash, stocks, bonds, and any other property which may be applied to the satisfaction of judgments, and the seriousness of the charge or nature of the case.

A determination of whether a person is entitled to an appointed attorney is made on the basis of an affidavit of financial status submitted at the time of the person's initial appearance or at such later time as a request for court appointment of counsel is made. The affidavit of financial status must be signed under penalty of perjury and contain sufficient information to allow the determination to be made of whether the person is entitled to an appointed attorney. If the person is granted an appointed attorney, the affidavit of financial status is permanently retained in the person's court file.

The current Income Eligibility Guidelines with a summary of the indigency determination statutory criteria is available in PDF format below:

2017 Income Eligibility Guidelines and Indigency Criteria