Office of The Public Defender
414 Court Street
Pekin, IL 61554
Office of Legal Services
Tazewell County Courthouse
342 Court Street, Rm. 305
Pekin, IL 61554
      The Office of Public Defender was formally created by statute of the Illinois General Assembly to implement the constitutional right to counsel, guaranteed by both the United States and Illinois Constitutions. The right to counsel assures that persons charged with criminal offenses, for which incarceration is a possible penalty, will have the services of an attorney to protect their interests. If a person charged lacks the financial means to employ an attorney, the State has the legal duty to provide one. The Judges who preside in the various courts have authority to order payment of a reasonable fee for the services of the public defender, after assessing the client’s ability to pay.
      The Public Defender’s Office in Tazewell County is presently comprised of the Chief Public Defender and twelve assistant defenders. All attorneys serving in the Office are duly licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois and in good standing with The Illinois Supreme Court. The attorneys represent clients in the felony, misdemeanor, traffic and juvenile courts. The Public Defender’s Office is not permitted to undertake a client’s representation or provide legal advice unless a Judge first enters an order appointing the Office to provide services. Other than furnishing general information, the Office cannot provide legal advice for someone who simply contacts the Office seeking it. Ordinarily, the Judge will inquire about the issue of legal representation when someone first appears before the court. For someone in custody, this will be within 48 hours of arrest. The Office does not provide services for persons in civil cases, other than those involving the abuse, neglect, or delinquency of minors. Nor does the Office provide representation for persons charged with ordinance violations or petty offenses, such as routine traffic offenses.
      The Legal Services Office facilitates the assignment of cases to particular defenders, the initial assessment of a reasonable fee for public defender services, and the collection of public defender fees assessed by final order of court. Clients who wish to determine the identity of their attorneys, who have not otherwise been notified, should call the Legal Services Office to obtain this information, not the Public Defender’s Office. Family members and other interested persons are also advised to call the Legal Services Office to obtain non-confidential information about a client. The non-confidential information is generally limited to providing the name and contact information of the defender assigned to a particular client and the next court setting.