Right to an Attorney


You have a right to be represented by a lawyer in connection with your charges in Municipal Court. You may hire an attorney of your choosing. Also, the Western Judicial Circuit Public Defender Office represents persons who cannot afford an attorney.

If you do not qualify for representation by the public defender, you should make arrangements to hire a lawyer. If you have not had an opportunity to hire a lawyer before your court date, you must come to court on your court date and ask the judge for more time to hire a lawyer.

Public Defender

The Western Circuit Public Defender’s Office provides representation only for certain serious offenses in Municipal Court (including DUI, possession of marijuana, theft by shoplifting, no valid or suspended license, fleeing and attempting to elude, racing, leaving the scene of an accident, underage possession of alcohol, sale of alcohol to a person under 21, unlawful use of license, and fake ID).

The public defender represents only those persons whose income falls below a certain level. If you believe you would qualify for representation by the public defender you must make an application, and be interviewed. A $50 public defender application fee may be assessed pursuant to state and local law.

Because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Public Defender’s Office is temporarily closed to the public, and not allowing walk-ins.  In the meantime, their staff members are conducting intake interviews by video conferencing and phone. To apply for representation during this time, please either call 706-369-6464 or send an email to lawyer.request@gapublicdefender.org with the following information:  your name, a good call back number and the best time to reach you. The Public Defender’s Office will have someone call you to see if you qualify for their services. Video conferencing interviews to the Public Defender’s Office will be available during Municipal Court sessions. Individuals who are incarcerated may request an interview at the jail.  

If you have any other questions or concerns, please call the Public Defender’s main office at 706-369-6440 or visit their website at: www.athenspublicdefender.com.