Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to appear in court?

Unless you have been excused by your attorney in a phone call or in a letter from our office, you must be present on your stated court date, or the judge will issue an Order For Arrest (OFA). You can check your court date here.

If you are charged with a felony in Orange County and your court date appears in the list below (for 2022), you DO NOT need to appear. These are Felony Administrative dates that are only for attorneys and not for defendants:

  • January 21
  • February 25
  • April 1
  • May 27
  • June 24
  • July 22
  • August 19
  • September 23
  • October 21
  • November 18
  • December 9
Who is my attorney?

When our office opens your case, we send a New Client Letter to the address you provided on your Affidavit of Indigency. This letter tells you who your attorney is and how to contact them, and provides instructions for your next court date. If you do not receive this letter within a few days of your first appearance, we may have an incorrect address for you. Please call our office whenever you have a change of address. If you do not have a mailing address, please call us so we can give you this information over the phone.

A list of all Chatham & Orange County Public Defenders and their contact information can be found here.

What if I miss my court date?

If you do not appear on your scheduled court date without an excusal from your attorney, the judge likely issued an Order For Arrest (OFA) for you. Please call our office right away so we can assist you with this.

What if I have symptoms of Covid-19?

If you have symptoms of Covid-19, or think you have been exposed to Covid-19, you should stay home. Your attorney can excuse you from court if you provide documentation of your Covid-19 test or the reason for your quarantine. Call our office to find out how to get this information to your attorney.

What if I haven’t heard from my attorney?

As much as we try to return messages right away, sometimes it can take a while to hear back from your attorney. Even if you have not spoken with your attorney, you must be present on your court date. The best ways to get in touch are by calling or emailing your attorney. Contact information for all Chatham & Orange County Public Defenders can be found here. To leave a voicemail for your attorney, use the directory options provided when you call the office.

How do I get a Public Defender to represent me?

You cannot hire a public defender. The Public Defender’s Office is appointed to cases by the presiding judge, usually at the defendant’s first appearance. Cases eligible for representation by a public defender must carry the possibility of an active sentence or a fine of more than $500. Cases not eligible for appointment to the Public Defender’s Office include traffic infractions, parking tickets, civil matters, and expungements.

You must fill out an Affidavit of Indigency, provided at your first appearance, for the judge to consider appointing our office. This form is how you tell the judge what kind of income and expenses you have. Because it is an affidavit, you must answer truthfully.

Where is the Public Defender’s office? Where is the courthouse?

Go here for our office addresses. Go here for courthouse addresses.

I was assigned a private attorney. How do I contact them?

Contact information for private attorneys who are appointed by our office can be found here. Private attorneys appointed by our office are supervised by the Regional Defender, Jeff Connolly. Please contact Jeff with any concerns or questions you have about your private attorney. He can be reached at his office (919-354-7207) or on his cell phone (919-423-7494), or by email (jeffrey.b.connolly@nccourts.org).

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