Section 1 requires the court, prior to appointing a public defender, to inquire whether a prosecutor intends to certify a misdemeanor as a petty misdemeanor. Provides that if an offense is certified as a petty misdemeanor, a defendant would not be eligible for a public defender.
Section 2 provides that if a prosecutor believes that it is in the interest of justice that a defendant accused of committing a misdemeanor not be incarcerated if convicted, the prosecutor may certify this belief to the court. If this occurs and the court approves of the certification, the defendant, if subsequently convicted of the offense, may not be incarcerated for it. Provides that in these circumstances or when a misdemeanor is certified as a petty misdemeanor under section 1, the defendant is not eligible for the appointment of a public defender.
Section 3 amends the statute that determines whether a defendant is financially unable to obtain counsel. Under current law, one test for this is if the defendant or any dependent who resides in the same household receives means tested government benefits. Replaces this with a standard whereby a defendant is considered to be financially unable to obtain counsel if the defendant has an annual income not greater than the following percentages of the federal poverty guidelines: for misdemeanors, 125 percent; for gross misdemeanors, 150 percent; and for felonies, 175 percent. Requires courts to make an appropriate determination of financial eligibility of a defendant for public defender services. (Currently, the court must simply make an inquiry into the defendant's financial circumstances.) Requires district courts to use the forms furnished by the state public defender relating to a defendant's financial statements. Provides that a court may not appoint a public defender for a defendant who refuses to execute the financial statement or refuses to provide information necessary to determine financial eligibility or who waives appointment of a public defender. Authorizes courts to partially reduce the required $75 copayment for representation by a public defender.
Section 4 adds language requiring a defendant who is or becomes able to make partial or full payments to reimburse the state for the cost of the public defender. Strikes language referring to reimbursement guidelines (these are repealed in section 5). Directs the court in determining a defendant's payment schedule to consider the defendant's financial statement application. Requires the court to evaluate a defendant's ability to make partial payments if the court originally determined that the defendant was financially unable to afford counsel due to the private retainer fee.
Section 5 repeals a subdivision of law that sets forth a reimbursement schedule guideline based on a defendant's net income and number of dependents.