What is a public defender his appointment Requirements and process

Who is Public defender

The public defender is the person who is in charge of legally defending another in a trial taking into account the interests of the client , without being freely chosen by the  client .

A public defender fulfills the same functions and with the same preparation as an ordinary lawyer, but the difference is that he has not been chosen from the options offered by the market .

Another fundamental difference with the ordinary lawyer is that there is no possibility of abandoning the case, except in the criminal order. The public defender has the obligation to take the case until the end of the procedure.

Why is a public defender appointed?

There are two possibilities for legal representation to be by a public defender:

  1. The person does not want to choose a lawyer and the bar association assigns him one if it is mandatory to go to the judicial process with a lawyer -> the services of this lawyer must be paid by the client.
  2. The person does not have sufficient financial resources to be able to pay for a lawyer and the bar association assigns him one. In this second case, “free legal aid” comes into play.

When the right to free legal aid is recognized, the client will not have to pay for the lawyer‘s services, but they will receive compensation for their work.

Once the person is informed that he must go to the judicial process with a lawyer and he or she cannot, or does not want to choose a lawyer, the procedure for the appointment of the public defender is opened.

Requirements to be a public defender

In order to participate in the duty shift and to be one of those elected if necessary, certain requirements must be met:

  • Have an open office in the judicial district where the services are required.
  • Have a minimum experience of three years.
  • Having completed a law degree and a master’s degree in access to the legal profession.
  • Not having incompatibilities to act as a public defender.
  • Be a member of the association and be up to date with the payment of college fees.
  • Not be disabled or have any sanction or limitation that prevents you from exercising.


The bar association has a job bank, that is, there are certain lawyers who have freely signed up for the so-called duty shift to be called if necessary.

Once the person who needs legal representation does not have a lawyer, the bar association must provide him with one of the registered lawyers on duty. This, without the possibility that the client can choose from among all those who are registered.

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