Public Defender

Fulton County

Public Defender

Public Defender

The Office of The Public Defender, Atlanta Circuit, ensures all accused indigent defendants are provided with their guaranteed fundamental constitutional rights by providing effective and zealous legal representation. To obtain a public defender, a defendant must apply to and be determined as qualified for such services by filling out an application. Public defenders are free, other than the $50 application fee. 

Public Defender


Pre-Indictment Division – Superior Court

The Pre-Indictment Division represents clients charged with all felony cases.  Lawyers in this Division handle their clients’ first appearances in court, secure bonds and bond reduction, and advocate for dismissals. The Pre-Indictment Division also resolves cases on behalf of clients who would benefit from a resolution early in the criminal process.

Non-Complex Division – Superior Court

The Non-Complex/Pre-Indictment Division represents clients charged with offenses that the Superior Court has designated “non-complex,” like drug offenses, theft, and other property crimes. Those cases are on a special track through the court system, and the Non-Complex/Pre-Indictment Division specializes in navigating clients successfully through that track. This Division also advocates for the rights of jailed clients by acquiring bonds, bond reductions, and dismissals.

Complex Division

The Complex Case Division represents clients charged with serious felony offenses that the Superior Court has designated “complex,” like murder, armed robbery, and rape. This division assigns teams of two or more lawyers to each superior court courtroom. Those lawyers represent their clients through trial and, if necessary, on appeal.

Probation Revocation Division

The Probation Revocation Division represents clients against allegations that they have violated the terms of their probation sentences, even when the alleged violation is of a technical rule. When the State arrests someone for an alleged probation violation, there may be little chance for bond, so the client may have to wait in the jail for their case to be resolved—even when the alleged violation is of a technical rule, like when to report or pay fines. To ensure that the Public Defender’s Office can quickly respond to those clients’ needs, Probation Revocation Division lawyers are stationed at the jail, instead of in the Public Defender’s main office.

Appeals Division

The Appeals Division represents clients who have been convicted of crimes in their motions for new trial and on their appeals to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Georgia. The Appeals Division also supports the other divisions by providing legal research and advice on trial strategy to maximize the outcomes for all the Office’s clients.

Juvenile Court Division

The Juvenile Court Division specializes in the protection of children who are charged with delinquent and other offenses in the Juvenile Court of Fulton County through release, trial, and appeal. In addition, a special section of the Juvenile Court Division, the Parent-Attorney Division, helps parents who have been accused of neglecting or depriving their children. 

Juvenile Felony Division (SB440)

The Juvenile Felony Division’s clients comprise a special class of children (SB440) whom the State has charged with adult crimes in superior court. Special laws and Constitutional Rules pertain to children charged as adults, and the Juvenile Felony Division’s lawyers focus on protecting the rights of those most-vulnerable clients.

Accountability Courts: Drug Court, Behavioral Health Court, and Veterans Court

Fulton County has three accountability courts, which are special programs designed to meet the underlying needs of certain classes of clients: Drug Court; Behavioral Health Court; and Veterans Court. The Office of the Public Defender has lawyers who specialize in helping clients assigned to each of these programs.

  • Drug Court
    The Drug Court staff attorneys assist clients charged with drug and drug-related offenses. Clients in the Drug Court program receive continuous monitoring and treatment for 18 months to address substance-abuse issues, and their lawyers are there to help them every step of the way.
  • Behavioral Health Court 
    Though they are charged with crimes, the clients in the Behavioral Health Court program all have mental-health or substance-abuse issues that underlie their behavior. Rather than incarcerate those clients, Behavioral Health Court allows them to seek treatment, with the support of their lawyers, while being monitored and held accountable for their actions.
  • Veterans Court
    A significant issue is the number of veterans whose circumstances, like homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness, draw them into the criminal-justice system. Veterans Court is an 18 – 24 month pre-and-post-adjudication program for veterans who are charged with felonies. With the help of their lawyers, veterans in this program receive treatment, case management (including job training, housing, and transportation assistance), drug testing, community supervision, and peer support, all while the Court monitors their progress on a monthly basis.

State and Magistrate Court Division

Lawyers in the State and Magistrate Court Division represent clients who are charged with misdemeanor offenses in those courts. Though they face less severe consequences than clients who are charged with felonies, clients in the state and magistrate court have the same rights to trial and appeal as everyone else charged with a crime. Our lawyers help steer their clients through the often complex processes in those courts, from their first appearances in court through arraignment, motions, and trial. Misdemeanor clients frequently enter accountability court programs, like Mental Health and DUI Court, where their attorneys help them secure better outcomes than if they had gone to trial.

Additionally, the State and Magistrate Court Division represents clients who are charged with county-ordinance violations involving animals (Environmental Court), as well as clients who are issued citations for misdemeanor offenses.

Litigation Support

The Litigation Support Division provides administrative, clerical, investigative, information systems, and alternative sentencing services for all the other divisions, ensuring that every lawyer has the resources they need to help every client. 

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