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Qualifying for SPD Representation - Financial Eligibility

All adult applicants for Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD) representation are required by state law to meet financial guidelines in order to qualify for appointment of an attorney by the SPD, other than in proceedings under chapters 51 and 55.

Applicants may apply at the local SPD office that serves the county in which the case will be heard.  SPD staff will assist applicants in this process by asking applicants the pertinent questions and by completing the financial eligibility form.  Information provided during this process is subject to verification for accuracy.  The application process typically takes approximately 15 minutes, although in some cases the applicant may need to provide additional documentation in order to verify information.

The determination as to an applicant's financial eligibility considers the applicant's:

  • income
  • assets (including spousal income and assets)
  • family size
  • the type of case for which the applicant seeks SPD representation

If it is determined that the applicant qualifies for SPD representation, the SPD will assign an attorney to the case.  The attorney will either be a SPD staff attorney or a private attorney certified by the SPD to provide representation in the applicable case type.  If it is determined that the applicant does not qualify for SPD representation, the applicant may apply to the court for the appointment of an attorney at county expense.  SPD staff can provide information regarding the process for seeking a court-appointed attorney in the local county.