Definition - What does Public Defender mean?
A public defender is a lawyer that is appointed by a court for a defendant that does not have the money to pay for one otherwise. In some states, someone who wants or needs a public defender will pay a very nominal fee to have one appointed. Every criminal defendant in the U.S. has a right to an attorney even if they are indigent.
The court allocates lawyers to defendants from a pool of lawyers that are picked to work for the court in such cases. It is normal for all lawyers to have to perform a certain amount of public defense work in the same way that citizens are expected to sit on a jury if called upon to do so. In many cases, the court will pay the public defender a fee for their service, but it is generally nowhere near what they usually make with a private client.
Justipedia explains Public Defender
Depending on the population of the area, the public defender's office can either be a structured office that several lawyers work for, or it can be made up of lawyers who work in other firms and get summoned in by court order.
The jail also has a list of public defenders. When a criminal suspect is brought into jail, they are read their right,s which includes the right to speak to a lawyer or be represented at that stage; if a lawyer is called by the jail to represent a person, they will be considered the lawyer on record for that defendant throughout any future court action.