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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

611.17 Financial inquiry; statements; co-payment.

Subdivision 1. Standards for district public defense eligibility. (a) Each judicial district must screen requests for representation by the district public defender. A defendant is financially unable to obtain counsel if:

(1) the defendant, or any dependent of the defendant who resides in the same household as the defendant, receives means-tested governmental benefits; or

(2) the defendant, through any combination of liquid assets and current income, would be unable to pay the reasonable costs charged by private counsel in that judicial district for a defense of the same matter.

(b) Upon a request for the appointment of counsel, the court shall make appropriate inquiry into the financial circumstances of the applicant, who shall submit a financial statement under oath or affirmation setting forth the applicant's assets and liabilities, including the value of any real property owned by the applicant, whether homestead or otherwise, less the amount of any encumbrances on the real property, the source or sources of income, and any other information required by the court. The applicant shall be under a continuing duty while represented by a public defender to disclose any changes in the applicant's financial circumstances that might be relevant to the applicant's eligibility for a public defender. The state public defender shall furnish appropriate forms for the financial statements. The forms must contain conspicuous notice of the applicant's continuing duty to disclose to the court changes in the applicant's financial circumstances. The forms must also contain conspicuous notice of the applicant's obligation to make a co-payment for the services of the district public defender, as specified under paragraph (c). The information contained in the statement shall be confidential and for the exclusive use of the court and the public defender appointed by the court to represent the applicant except for any prosecution under section 609.48. A refusal to execute the financial statement or produce financial records constitutes a waiver of the right to the appointment of a public defender. The court shall not appoint a district public defender to a defendant who is financially able to retain private counsel but refuses to do so.

An inquiry to determine financial eligibility of a defendant for the appointment of the district public defender shall be made whenever possible prior to the court appearance and by such persons as the court may direct. This inquiry may be combined with the prerelease investigation provided for in Minnesota Rule of Criminal Procedure 6.02, subdivision 3. In no case shall the district public defender be required to perform this inquiry or investigate the defendant's assets or eligibility. The court has the sole duty to conduct a financial inquiry. The inquiry must include the following:

(1) the liquidity of real estate assets, including the defendant's homestead;

(2) any assets that can be readily converted to cash or used to secure a debt;

(3) the determination of whether the transfer of an asset is voidable as a fraudulent conveyance; and

(4) the value of all property transfers occurring on or after the date of the alleged offense. The burden is on the accused to show that he or she is financially unable to afford counsel. Defendants who fail to provide information necessary to determine eligibility shall be deemed ineligible. The court must not appoint the district public defender as advisory counsel.

(c) Upon appointment of the public defender, an individual who receives public defender services shall be obligated to pay to the court a co-payment for representation provided by a public defender. The co-payment shall be according to the following schedule:

(1) if the person was charged with a felony, $200;

(2) if the person was charged with a gross misdemeanor, $100; or

(3) if the person was charged with a misdemeanor, $50.

If the person is a child and was appointed counsel under the provisions of section 260B.163, subdivision 4, the parents of the child shall pay to the court a co-payment of $100. If the person is a parent of a child and the parent was appointed counsel under the provisions of section 260C.163, subdivision 3, the parent shall pay to the court a co-payment of $200.

If a term of probation is imposed as a part of an offender's sentence, the co-payment required by this section must not be made a condition of probation. The co-payment required by this section is a civil obligation and must not be made a condition of a criminal sentence. Collection of the co-payment may be made through the provisions of chapter 270A, the Revenue Recapture Act.

(d) All public defender co-pay revenue collected under paragraph (c) and revenues less statutory fees collected under chapter 270A shall be deposited in the public defender co-pay account in the special revenue fund.

The first $2,740,000 deposited in the public defender co-pay account must be transferred to the general fund. This is not an annual transfer. Receipts in excess of the first $2,740,000 are appropriated to the Board of Public Defense for public defender services.

HIST: 1965 c 869 s 4; 1983 c 359 s 91; 1986 c 444; 1989 c 335 art 1 s 260; 1991 c 345 art 3 s 3; 1993 c 146 art 2 s 19; 1994 c 636 art 11 s 3; 1995 c 226 art 2 s 24; 2002 c 220 art 6 s 13; 1Sp2003 c 2 art 3 s 4; 1Sp2003 c 23 s 6