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Joy Gossman, Chief
Public Defender  

What does the Public Defender's office do?

The Lake County Public Defender's Office represents indigent criminal defendants charged with crimes punishable by incarceration. The goal is to assure an excellent quality of legal representation that is not dependent on the wealth and status of the accused.

  • Public Defender attorneys are appointed to criminal defendants who cannot afford a lawyer.  If you do not have the money for a lawyer, the Court will appoint you to the Public Defender's Office.
  • This representation is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Illinois Constitution, and Illinois law.

Are public defenders lawyers?

 Yes.  The Public Defender and Assistant Public Defenders are attorneys licensed to practice in the State of Illinois. 

How do I get a public defender to represent me?

Public defenders are appointed by the court.  If you are charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney, ask the court to appoint a public defender at your first appearance before a judge. You may be asked to complete a certificate of assets to determine eligibility.  

Can I obtain a public defender to file for divorce, arrange child support, or solve landlord/tenant problems?

No.  The Public Defender is only appointed to represent people in criminal matters, including felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile court.

  • To receive help on divorce matters or landlord/tenant problems, you should contact:

Prairie State Legal Services
325 West Washington Street, Suite 100,
Waukegan, Illinois  60085
Telephone: 847.662.6925 and 800.942.3940

Lawyer Referral Service of the Lake County Bar Association: 847.244.3140

I forgot my court date.  How do I find out when it is?

If you are currently represented by the Lake County Public Defender, contact our office staff to determine your next court date 847.377.3360.   

  • If our office does not represent you, contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court to ascertain your court date
  • Check your court date here.

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