Legal definition of public defender
Felonies Legal Terminology

public defender

1
- an elected or appointed public official (usually of a county), who is an attorney regularly assigned by the courts to defend people accused of crimes who cannot afford a private attorney.
In larger counties the public defender has a large case load, numerous deputy public defenders and office staff. In each federal judicial district there is also a federal public defender, and some states have a state public defender to supervise the provision of attorneys to convicted indigents for appeals.
2
An Alternate Public Defender (APD) - A highly trained and devoted attorney, specializing in criminal defense, employed by the County of Los Angeles. Alternate Public Defender attorneys provide high quality, cost effective and caring representation in cases where the Public Defender has a conflict of interest.

Although the APD handles every type of misdemeanor and felony case, it distinguishes itself by its representation in the most serious and otherwise costly cases for the county. In these cases, APD attorneys put to work their exceptional skills, training, and dedication to their clients.
Source: County of LA, Office of Alternate Public Defender website
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