Frequently Asked Questions


Sacramento County has chosen to provide primary representation through a county Public Defender office, currently directed by Public Defender Steven M. Garrett, and staffed by attorneys and support staff who are county employees.

Sacramento has chosen to provide secondary (conflict and overload) representation through a county Conflict Defender office (Conflict Criminal Defenders) currently directed by Theresa Huff and support staff who are county employees.  Legal representation is provided by private criminal defense attorneys who are assigned to cases by the Director of Conflict Criminal Defenders.​

If the Judge determines that a defendant qualifies for the appointment of counsel, the Public Defender will be appointed. 

If the Public Defender declares a conflict or an overload, Conflict Criminal Defenders will be appointed. The Public Defender and Conflict Criminal Defenders are the two county departments that provide indigent defense representation in Sacramento County.  The only difference is that while the Public Defender will assign a staff attorney to the case, Conflict Criminal Defenders will assign a private attorney.

Conflict Criminal Defenders is responsible for:

  • Assigning attorneys to CCD cases.
  • Reviewing and auditing attorney claims including substantive work product.
  • Approving and processing attorney claims.
  • Providing on-going training programs.
  • Reviewing, approving and processing requests for investigators and experts.
  • Reviewing, approving and processing investigator and expert claims.​
  • Providing assistance to the Courts in any area or issue relevant to indigent defense representation.
  • Maintaining a separate Sacramento County DNA attorney panel qualified to provide DNA representation in those cases where the Director determines it is necessary.
  • Ensuring that all Conflict Criminal Defender clients are provided with effective representation.
  • Ensuring that all representation provided through Conflict Criminal Defenders is cost-effective.