Public Defense Legislation

Recent state and federal legislation relating to public defense and the right to counsel.

Federal Legislation

EQUAL Defense Act: (S.1377/H.R. 2868) Sen. K. Harris, Rep. T. Deutch (2019) (grants promoting parity in state public defense)
Status of the Sixth Amendment Act  (H.R. 568) Reps T. Deutsch, E. Norton, and J. Schakowsky (requires states to report to DOJ the number of individuals proceeding without counsel in criminal cases)

State Legislation

2019 Successes

Illinois SB 1966: Creates a Public Defender Bail Grant Program whereby counties may seek grant funds from the state to provide counsel at bail hearings. 

Indiana SB 488: Authorizes the Indiana Public Defender Commission to create guidelines for the development of regional public defense offices, paving the way for smaller counties to aggregate their resources to sustain a public defender office. 

Utah SB 32: Amends Utah's Indigent Defense Act to make legal counsel more accessible to minors facing delinquency charges. The bill would require the estimated 15,000 minors facing misdemeanor charges annually in Utah to consult with a public defender or hire private legal counsel before waiving their right to be represented

Learn more about state legislation impacting public defense

NACDL State Advocacy Resources


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