ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST  PUBLIC DEFENDER OFFICE 

COURT APPOINTED LAWYERS IN THE 40TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT


   FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)

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WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A PUBLIC DEFENDER? 
People who cannot afford to hire a lawyer for their criminal case because they are indigent (needy) or live on a low, fixed-income. Public Defender services are not guaranteed. Every applicant must qualify. 


HOW DO I GET A PUBLIC DEFENDER? 
If you need to apply for a lawyer, please visit www.stjohnpdo.org, and click our APPLY FOR A PUBLIC DEFENDER tab. After you submit your formal application requesting services of a public defender, you may still be required to hire your own lawyer, or may be ordered to pay for the services of the appointed lawyer.  APPLICATION FOR A PUBLIC DEFENDER WILL ONLY BE ACCEPTED ONLINE. IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE, PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE AT (985) 651-6677. 


HOW DO I SUBMIT A PAYMENT FOR MY APPLICATION FOR A PUBLIC DEFENDER OR PUBLIC DEFENDER OFFICE FEES?

Note: There is a service fee for processing payment (s) online or over the phone. The total charge amount will be displayed prior to submitting the payment. 


Online: 


By Phone: To make a payment by phone, please call (985) 235-4919, Bilingual Call Center (English/Spanish); Monday - Friday, between 7am - 7pm; and Saturday-Sunday, 9am-1pm (CST). 


By Mail: Submit a $40.00 money order to: 40TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT PUBLIC DEFENDER OFFICE, 425 West Airline Highway, Suite D, LaPlace, LA 70068


WHAT COURT COSTS WILL I HAVE TO PAY IF I WISH TO PLEAD GUILTY? 
If you enter a plea of "GUILTY" or "NO CONTEST", you will be responsible to pay the following court costs: 


Felonies:                                    $315.00

Misdemeanors:                          $169.50

DWI/DUI Case:                          $315.00

Moving Traffic Violations:          $124.50

Non-Moving Traffic Violations:   $119.50


WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I MISSED MY COURT DATE? 
You will need to get a new court date IMMEDIATELY. When you miss your court date, the court issues an attachment for you,  which means you can get arrested. 


1) Get in contact with your appointed Public Defender if you applied for their services. Tell them that you missed your date and you need to get a new date. 

2) Whether you have a Public Defender or not, go to court in Edgard or Laplace on the next day any division of court is in session.  

3) It is best to arrive in court at 9:00 a.m.so that you do not have to wait long to get your new court date. 

4) Once you enter the court, find a Public Defender in the courtroom and tell them you are there to get a new court date. They will get your record from the clerk and make sure the District Attorney calls you to get you a new court date. 

5) Once the District Attorney calls you up, they will give you your next court date. Make sure you ask them to RECALL ANY ATTACHMENT out on you. 

6) Wait until you are called to sign for your notice for your next court date.

7) Write your next court date down as soon as possible and make sure you don't miss your new date!



HOW CAN I GET A RIDE TO COURT? 
If you need a ride to court, the River Parishes Transit Authority provides transportation. Call either the local office number: (985) 651-1141 or the toll-free number
1-(877) 651-1171 to schedule a ride. Contact the office from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday – Friday. 

A dispatcher will assist you in scheduling a trip to the courthouse.  Passengers must call at least 24 hours in advance to schedule a ride.  The fare for a one-way trip is $2.00, EXACT FARE ONLY. The exact fare must be deposited before taking your seat. 



WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO COURT? 


MEN: wear shoes with socks; long pants (on pants with belt loops, wear a belt);collared shirt (tucked in) preferably with a tie, with or without a jacket.

WOMEN: wear shoes; a dress, skirt (preferably nor more than two inches above the knee) or long pants; a blouse, sweater or casual dress shirt.

We suggest you DO NOT wear the following to court: Shorts; hats; halter or tube tops; see-through top or bottoms; flip-flops; clothing that exposes your midriff or underwear, ripped or torn jeans; baggy pants that fall below your hips; clothing with an emblem or wording that promotes illegal or inappropriate activity; clothing that depicts or promotes violence, sex acts, illegal drug use or profanity. 


Rule 3: Courtroom Décor
Section D: All persons in the courtroom shall be properly attired in keeping with the dignity of the court. Short shorts, cutoffs, skimpy tops, muscle shirts, low-slung pants, exposing underwear or normally covered body parts, and hair curlers will not be permitted. Those parties/litigants not properly attired will be given return dates.  Eating and drinking will not be allowed in the courtroom.



WHAT ARE MY BAIL OBLIGATIONS? 

METHODS OF POSTING BAIL
The sheriff will collect a $30 processing fee for all bonds posted. Read the front and back of the bond forms carefully. 


1) You may use the services of a commercial surety (bail bondsman) for any charge. (C.Cr.P. 322) Commercial sureties may charge 12% of the bail amount, but not less than $120.00. (R.S. 22:1443)

2) Unless restricted to "No 10%" by the judge (based on residency, type of charges, and/or repeat offender status), you may be permitted to put up a 10% cash deposit with the sheriff . (C. Cr. P. 326 A (2)) The cash deposit will be returned to you when the case is completed, except that any fines, costs, and fees ordered by the judge will be deducted from the amount deposited. 
 
3) You may use a secured personal surety or a "property bond" secured by a mortgage on any immovable property in Louisiana, such as a house or land. (C. Cr.P. 323) This will require you to get documentation regarding the property ownership and value and regarding any recorded mortgages, judgments, or liens. A judge's approval is needed to post a property bond. 

4) You may put up a 100% cash deposit with the sheriff for any charge. (C. Cr. P. 326 A(1) That will be returned to you when the case is completed except that any fines, costs, and fees ordered by the judge may be deducted from the amount deposited.


5) A judge may allow release without surety (C. Cr. P. 325), including a Release on Recognizance (ROR). 

6) A judge may allow other secured or unsecured personal surety bonds. (C. Cr. P. 324)



ARE PUBLIC DEFENDERS LICENSED ATTORNEYS?
Yes, the Public Defender and all Assistant Public Defenders in St. John the Baptist Parish are licensed attorneys who have graduated from law school and passed the Louisiana state bar exam. 



MY ATTORNEY DOES NOT ANSWER THE PHONE WHEN I CALL, WHY?

Attorneys can be hard to reach by phone because they are often away from their desks – in court, visiting clients at a jail in or outside of the parish, or in meetings. If you are unable to reach your attorney by phone, you should leave a voicemail for him/her about why you are calling and provide a call back number. You may also write your lawyer a letter or send an email to him/her directly. You may also ask your lawyer if there is a time that is best for you to call.