Journalist's Guide

Office of the Maryland Public Defender

Overview The Maryland Public Defender’s Office is responsible for handling the criminal defense of many low-income Marylanders charged with crimes carrying a possible jail sentence or fine greater than $500. Under the provisions of the law, the Public Defender is to provide legal representation, including any necessary related services, for anyone meeting required income levels. Representation by the Public Defender covers criminal trials, appeals, juvenile cases, and post-conviction proceedings, as well as matters of probation and parole revocations, dispositions of detainers, and involuntary commitments to mental institutions. The office represents parents in abuse and neglect cases as well as “termination of parental rights” petitions. All of the Assistant Public Defenders serve at the pleasure of the Public Defender, who oversees the entire system. The Public Defender Districts conform to the geographical boundaries of the District Court. In some cases, the Public Defender’s office will “panel out” the matter to private attorneys who will be paid by the state to handle the case. In the area of “ appellate review ” concerning criminal cases on appeal, the Appellate Division of the Public Defender’s office is responsible for the following: Administration of all work in the appellate courts in conjunction with the District Public Defenders. Qualification of applicants for appellate services. Representation of clients in the Court of Special Appeals, Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Establishment of approved panel attorney lists: assignment of cases to panel attorneys; authorization of fees to panel attorneys. The Post-Conviction Defender Division is responsible for the following: Advice and assistance to indigent inmates in Maryland correctional facilities regarding their criminal convictions. Representation of indigent inmates in post-conviction, habeas corpus proceedings, parole violations and detainer matters. The office has nine statewide divisions.

The Mental Health Division is responsible for the following:


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