Clark County’s Indigent Defense Office provides the courts with attorneys to represent indigent persons in specific types of state and county cases -- primarily criminal, probation violation, juvenile offender, mental commitment and CHILD REPRESENTATION ONLY in dependency (abuse & neglect) cases. Attorneys appointed to represent PARENTS in dependency proceedings are provided to the court by the State Office of Public Defense in Olympia -- see: Parents Representation.
If you need assistance with a civil case (for example, divorce, landlord/tenant, employment), there are legal resources listed on the Clark County Bar Association’s website or Northwest Justice Project (civil legal aid). Looking for contact information for an attorney licensed in Washington State? Click this link to the Washington State Bar Association’s Lawyer Directory.
Clark County courts determine whether a person qualifies for the appointment of an attorney at county expense. Individuals who want an attorney appointed must financially qualify, according to state statute. A Financial Statement is completed when the person first appears in court. The judge then decides whether or not to appoint an attorney. If an attorney is appointed, a judge may order repayment of the public defense cost at the conclusion of the case.
People who want to be screened by court staff for eligibility for an appointed attorney need to provide income, debt and asset (house, vehicle, pension) information at their first court appearance. Bring the following income information to court to assist in screening, if possible: wage slips, including spouse’s wage slips if married; proof of eligibility for food stamps, Social Security, unemployment or other government benefits; and bank account balance(s).
The majority of attorneys who provide indigent defense services are attorneys in private practice (not county employees), who are under contract with the county. These attorneys can only represent individuals if a judge appoints the attorney.
The county’s Indigent Defense Coordinator is responsible for promoting the professional independence and integrity of the indigent defense system, and fulfilling the county’s obligation to provide quality, independent counsel to those who qualify for appointment of counsel at county expense.
Clients of indigent defense attorneys who have concerns or complaints are encouraged to complete a Client Complaint Form. For time-sensitive matters, please contact Heather Carroll, Indigent Defense Coordinator, at 564-397-2256 or Cnty.IndigentDefense@clark.wa.gov.
Indigent Defense Mission: To ensure effective and cost-efficient legal representation is available to persons who are eligible for court-appointed counsel, consistent with the State of Washington and United States Constitutions, laws and standards.
Ann Christian: Cnty.IndigentDefense@clark.wa.gov or 564-397-2163
Office Location: 1408 Franklin Street, Room 106, Vancouver, WA