Can I get advice from an attorney before I appear in court?

Before an individual in custody may be questioned regarding a crime, the law requires the police to inform that person that they have the right to remain silent and the right to counsel. If the person asks for an attorney, the police must arrange for the presence of an attorney before questioning can take place. Likewise, if the police wish to place a person who has been arrested into a lineup, that person has the right to the presence of an attorney at the lineup. The Public Defender has attorneys available to serve those functions. An attorney who responds to the police station or jail serves as the person's attorney in the same way as if the attorney had been retained to represent the person. The attorney represents the client, not the police.

If you are in custody in the Napa County Department of Corrections, there is a toll free number to dial our office directly during normal business hours. Usually the support staff can provide you with your next court date and will direct you to ask the court to appoint the Public Defender. If you have sustained injuries that might be relevant to your defense, an investigator can be dispatched to take photos.

Our staff can advise you what to expect at your first appearance, but are not able to discuss the particulars of your case until the charges and police reports are available and we have been appointed to represent you.

We understand that people who need legal help are often apprehensive and may even be desperate to get the answer they want. It is the goal of our support staff to be helpful, but only your attorney can provide you with legal advice. Please understand that our support staff cannot give you legal advice because it is considered an unauthorized practice of law.

Find more information about this on our Talking to an Attorney Before You Appear in Court page.

Show All Answers

1. Are Deputy Public Defenders real attorneys?
2. How do I get an attorney to represent me?
3. Can I get advice from an attorney before I appear in court?
4. How do I contact my attorney?
5. I forgot the name of my attorney. How can I find out who is representing me?
6. I forgot where my court is located. How can I find out where I'm supposed to appear?
7. I can't afford an attorney. Will I have to pay to be represented by the Public Defender's Office?
8. How much can I earn and still be eligible for the services of an attorney?
9. What if the Public Defender cannot represent me?
10. Are all "appointed attorneys" employees of the Public Defender's Office?
11. What is "O.R."?
12. What is bail?
13. When will the judge set bail and/or consider an O.R. release?
14. What happens when someone is charged with a felony?
15. What happens when someone is charged with a misdemeanor?
16. Will the Public Defender represent me if I am a resident of another state?
17. Will the Public Defender's Office represent me if I am a citizen of another country?
18. Will the Public Defender's Office represent me in an extradition hearing?
19. My English is limited. How can I get an interpreter to assist me or my witnesses?
20. I like a certain attorney. Can I choose who represents me?
21. I don’t like my attorney. How do I get a new one?
22. Who is eligible for drug treatment within the criminal justice system under Proposition 36?
23. I have heard about the success of drug treatment courts. How do they differ from regular criminal courts?
24. What happens when someone under the age of 18 is charged with a crime?
25. My child, who is under 18, has been arrested and needs drug treatment, mental health treatment or specialized education. Can the Public Defender help?
26. Will the Public Defender's Office represent me in the appellate courts?
27. Will the Public Defender represent me in a habeas corpus proceeding?
28. What is an expungement?
29. Who is eligible for an expungement?
30. When is an expungement available?
31. What will an expungement do for me?
32. Does the Public Defender's Office have access to any police officers or investigators who can look for evidence that will help me talk to witnesses in my case?
33. I know my attorney can't repeat anything I say in confidence. How can I be sure that what I say to a Public Defender investigator or paralegal will be kept confidential?
34. If the police contact me, do I have to speak with them?
35. What should I do if the police want to search me or my belongings?
36. I want to sue the Police Department. Will the Public Defender represent me?
37. I was treated unfairly by the judge in my case, and I want to sue the court. Will the Public Defender's Office represent me?
38. I am the victim of a crime. Will the Public Defender represent me?
39. I need an attorney to help me in a civil case (like divorce, landlord/tenant dispute, debt payment, bankruptcy, child custody). Does the Public Defender handle that type of case?
40. How do I get a certificate of rehabilitation?
41. What is Proposition 64?