public defender


Definition of public defender

: a lawyer usually holding public office whose duty is to defend accused persons unable to pay for legal assistance

Examples of public defender in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

An attorney with the state public defender’s office is representing him in the criminal case. Kathleen Foody, The Seattle Times, "Idaho woman charged in connection to missing Colorado mom," 5 Feb. 2019 One summer Holley took a law-clerk position at the public defender’s office. Jessica Chou, Glamour, "Shawn Holley Will Free You Now," 11 Dec. 2018 His attorney, Michael Novara from the federal public defender’s office, entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. Erin Ailworth, WSJ, "Pittsburgh Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty," 1 Nov. 2018 The public defender’s office in Taos County did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday. Fox News, "Father arrested at New Mexico compound due in court; sick son missing," 7 Aug. 2018 And at Thursday’s hearing, Judge Chutkan said she had appointed a federal public defender to join Ms. Butina’s legal team earlier this month, after being made aware of concerns by prosecutors about potential conflicts of interest on the team. Byron Tau, WSJ, "Maria Butina Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Influence U.S. Politics," 13 Dec. 2018 Beyond hiring public defenders, Carroll said a work group tasked with looking at the reorganization also proposed increasing contractor pay and the rate of hourly pay, from $90 to $110. Jerzy Shedlock, The Seattle Times, "‘This is not OK’: Clark County Indigent Defense Office needs more attorneys for serious, time-consuming cases," 27 Nov. 2018 Because deportation proceedings are civil matters, not criminal, those who can’t afford lawyers aren’t assigned public defenders. Jonathan Lai,, "Most immigrants facing deportation don't have lawyers. N.J. is changing that," 3 July 2018 But the judge ordered that he be appointed a public defender anyway. Rebecca Boone,, "3-year-old stabbed at her birthday party in Idaho dies; suspect charged with murder," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'public defender.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of public defender

1822, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for public defender

Last Updated

13 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for public defender

The first known use of public defender was in 1822

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public defender


English Language Learners Definition of public defender

US : a lawyer who is paid by the government to defend people who are accused of a crime and are unable to pay for a private lawyer

public defender


Legal Definition of public defender

: a lawyer usually holding public office who represents criminal defendants unable to pay for legal assistance

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