FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

  • I was convicted of a crime a number of years ago. Can I get that conviction off my record?
    See our Expungement Information Page.
  • What do I do if there is a bench warrant for my arrest?
    If you are currently represented by an attorney inform him or her immediately. The attorney can place you on the court's calendar to clear it up. If you do not have an attorney, call the number to Room 111 (above) and find out which court issued the bench warrant. You will then need to hire an attorney or contact the Public Defender’s Office to take care of calendaring it, or you can calendar it yourself by calling the Court Clerk’s office with the bench warrant number or case number. Bear in mind there are no guarantees that you will not be arrested on the bench warrant until you appear in court.
  • How do I find out if I have a bench warrant for my arrest?
    To find out if you have a have a bench warrant for your arrest you should contact your attorney.  You may also contact the Court Clerk's office located at the Yolo Superior Court, Criminal Division, 725 Court Street, Room 111, Woodland, California 95695, (530) 406-6705. Time permitting, the clerk on duty will do a search for you.  It is recommended that you make inquiries with room 111 by telephone. 
  • How can you defend someone you know is guilty?
    In many respects, a defense lawyer's belief in a client's guilt or innocence is irrelevant. That determination is the job of the judge or jury under our adversarial system of justice. Under the federal and state constitutions, every person charged with a crime by the government is entitled to competent legal representation. The job of a criminal defense lawyer is not only to insure that the innocent are not convicted, it also consists of making sure that charges and punishment are meted out in a fair and evenhanded manner.
  • Wouldn't I be better off hiring my own lawyer?

    First, if you can afford to hire a private attorney, you do not qualify for the services of the public defender and should hire your own lawyer. The Public Defender's Office only represents people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. There are a number of fine criminal defense lawyers in private practice in Yolo County; however, because we are a government agency we cannot recommend any particular lawyer.

    The Yolo County Public Defender's Office is made up of people who practice nothing but criminal law. The salary range of an attorney in the Public Defender's Office is commensurate with attorneys in the District Attorney's Office. Public Defender lawyers are in court doing criminal cases nearly every day. They know all the "ins and outs" of the courts in which they practice.

    The Yolo County Public Defender's Office has the benefit of outstanding in-house support services including a professional investigative staff, clerical staff, interns and law clerks, as well as the shared knowledge and experience of the many lawyers in the office.

  • Does the public defender handle matters other than criminal cases?
    Generally speaking, no. However, persons involved in the following kinds of "civil" cases are often represented by a public defender: Minors in juvenile delinquency cases, parents in juvenile dependency cases, proposed conservatees in L.P.S. and probate convervatorship cases, and persons accused of contempt in civil cases if they are otherwise unable to afford private counsel. If you are being sued, have immigration problems, are being evicted, have a worker's compensation claim, etc., you may qualify for assistance from other agencies, however, as a general rule you will not qualify for the services of a public defender.
  • Can I speak to a public defender before my arraignment (first court appearance)?
    Our office can speak to you about your case prior to court appointment if you desire. Practically speaking, however, our office won’t be able to have a complete discussion with you about your case until we receive the relevant police reports and other discovery from the District Attorney’s Office.
  • Can I speak with a public defender even though I already have an attorney?
    No. Once you are represented in a case by any attorney other than a public defender, either appointed or retained, the public defender will not speak with you about that case absent your attorney's permission.
  • How do I get a public defender?

    At your first court appearance there is usually a deputy public defender who is there to assist you. If you are out of custody, you may be asked to fill out a financial declaration, under penalty of perjury, to determine if you qualify for the services of the Office of the Public Defender or if you are financially able to hire a private attorney. You may also be directed to speak to an agent of Yolo County Collection Services (YCCS) located at 625 Court St, Rm 103, Woodland, CA 95695. The phone number is (530) 666-8668. A $50 registration fee is required if you can afford it.

    If you are in custody a public defender is usually automatically appointed unless private counsel has already been retained. If you have retained counsel but are unable to afford his or her continued representation, inform the court as soon as possible that you would like a public defender.