Unlike most other counties in California that have a Public Defender’s Office, San Mateo County has a Private Defender Program comprised of a panel of dedicated private attorneys committed to handling criminal cases.  If you have been charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney, you can apply for court-appointed counsel at your first appearance.  Once the court determines you qualify, they will appoint the Private Defender Program to represent you.  You will then be assigned an experienced criminal lawyer to help you defend your case.  

The Private Defender Program defends adults and juveniles charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to capital murders.  We also defend individuals subject to involuntary psychiatric civil commitments and conservatorships.

Each Private Defender Program attorney has a private office within the County of San Mateo. If you are not in custody, you can call your attorney and set up a time to meet and discuss your case and the court process prior to your next scheduled court date.  If you are in custody, your attorney will visit you in the jail before your next court date. 

There is an assigned Officer of the Day present at the Private Defender Program offices available to handle calls or drop-ins regarding any questions or concerns you may have during the pendency of your case.  Our offices are located across the street from the Hall of Justice, at 333 Bradford Street, Suite 200 in Redwood City.  Our phone number is (650) 298-4000.

For assistance during regular business hours:

please call (650) 298-4000

​Monday-Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

"If there is no equal justice,
there is no justice at all."

Chief Justice Warren Burger