Public Defender services are mandated. See the following:
- U.S. Constitution (Amendment VI and Amendment XIV);
- California Penal Code sections 686, 859, 982.2 and 897;
- Government Code sections 27700 and 27706;
- California Welfare and Institutions Code sections 300, 317, 600, et.seq., 5365 and 6500; and
- California Probate Code section 1470, et.seq.
Indigent persons have the right to competent and effective counsel supplied by the government. See Powell vs. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45 (1932); Gideon vs. Wainwright, 273 U.S. 335 (1963); Argersinger vs. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25, 37-38 (1972); In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967).
Across a broad range of criminal and civil situations, the Federal and State Constitutions, state statutes, and case law require the provision of counsel to those who lack the funds to hire their own attorneys. San Joaquin County is required to provide effective legal defense for all indigent persons who face the loss of liberty in criminal or civil proceedings initiated by the San Joaquin County District Attorney, County Counsel or other prosecuting agency.
The California State Bar Act (Business and Professions Code sections 6000-6228) and the California Rules of Professional Conduct govern the ethical and professional responsibilities of the lawyers employed by San Joaquin County.