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An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Defense counsel

Indigent Defense

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution sets forth the right to counsel in federal criminal prosecutions. Through a series of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, the right to counsel has been extended to all criminal prosecutions—state or federal, felony or misdemeanor—that carry a sentence of imprisonment.

Census of Public Defender Offices (CPDO)

The Census of Public Defender Offices (CPDO) involves the collection of data from all state- and county-funded public defender offices across the country, including offices that are publicly funded but privately operated and offices that handle capital cases only. These public defender offices handle the largest proportion of indigent defense cases of the three major indigent defense delivery systems: public defender offices, assigned counsel systems, and contract attorney systems.