Section 15-12-21


Published: 2015

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Section 15-12-21

Section 15-12-21Appointment and compensation of counsel - Trial court.

(a) If it appears to the trial court that an indigent defendant is entitled to counsel, that the indigent defendant does not expressly waive the right to assistance of counsel, and that the indigent defendant is not able financially or otherwise to obtain the assistance of counsel through another indigent defense system for the circuit, the court shall appoint counsel to represent and assist the defendant. It shall be the duty of the appointed counsel, as an officer of the court and as a member of the bar, to represent and assist the indigent defendant to the best of his or her ability.



(b) If it appears to the trial court in a delinquency case, need of supervision case, or other judicial proceeding in which a juvenile is a party, that the juvenile is entitled to counsel and that the juvenile is not able financially or otherwise to obtain the assistance of counsel or that appointed counsel is otherwise required by law, the court shall appoint counsel to represent and assist the juvenile or act in the capacity of guardian ad litem for the juvenile. It shall be the duty of the appointed counsel, as an officer of the court and as a member of the bar, to represent and assist the juvenile to the best of his or her ability.



(c) If it appears to the trial court that the parents, guardian, or custodian of a juvenile who is a party in a judicial proceeding, are entitled to counsel and the parties are unable to afford counsel, upon request, the court shall appoint counsel to represent and assist the parents, guardian, or custodian. It shall be the duty of the appointed counsel, as an officer of the court and as a member of the bar, to represent and assist the parties to the best of his or her ability.



(d) If the appropriate method for providing indigent defense services is by appointed counsel in a case described in subsections (a), (b), and (c), including cases tried de novo in circuit court on appeal from a juvenile proceeding, appointed counsel shall be entitled to receive for their services a fee to be approved by the trial court. The amount of the fee shall be based on the number of hours spent by the attorney in working on the case. The amount of the fee shall be based on the number of hours spent by the attorney in working on the case and shall be computed at the rate of seventy dollars ($70) per hour for time reasonably expended on the case. The total fees paid to any one attorney in any one case, from the time of appointment through the trial of the case, including motions for new trial, shall not exceed the following:



(1) In cases where the original charge is a capital offense or a charge which carries a possible sentence of life without parole, there shall be no limit on the total fee.



(2) Except for cases covered by subdivision (1), in cases where the original charge is a Class A felony, the total fee shall not exceed four thousand dollars ($4,000).



(3) In cases where the original charge is a Class B felony, the total fee shall not exceed three thousand dollars ($3,000).



(4) In cases where the original charge is a Class C felony, the total fee shall not exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000).



(5) In juvenile cases, the total fee shall not exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500).



(6) In all other cases, the total fee shall not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500).



Counsel shall also be entitled to be reimbursed for any nonoverhead expenses reasonably incurred in the representation of his or her client, with any expense in excess of three hundred dollars ($300) subject to advance approval by the trial court as necessary for the indigent defense services and as a reasonable cost or expense. Reimbursable expenses shall not include overhead expenses. Fees and expenses of all experts, investigators, and others rendering indigent defense services to be used by counsel for an indigent defendant shall be approved in advance by the trial court as necessary for the indigent defense services and as a reasonable cost or expense. Retrials of any case shall be considered a new case for billing purposes. Upon review, the director may authorize interim payment of the attorney fees or expenses, or both.



(e) Within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the trial or ruling on a motion for a new trial or after an acquittal or other judgment disposing of the case, not to exceed 90 days, counsel shall submit a bill for services rendered to the office. The bill shall be accompanied by a certification by the trial court that counsel provided representation to the indigent defendant, that the matter has been concluded, and that to the best of his or her knowledge the bill is reasonable based on the defense provided. The trial court need not approve the items included on the bill or the amount of the bill, but may provide any information requested by the office or the indigent defense advisory board relating to the representation. The bill for compensation of appointed counsel shall be submitted to the office. After review and approval, the office shall recommend to the Comptroller that the bill be paid. The office may forward the bill to the indigent defense advisory board for review and comment prior to approval. The Comptroller shall remit payment in a timely manner.

(Acts 1963, No. 526, p. 1136, §§2, 3; Acts 1971, No. 2420, p. 3851; Acts 1981, No. 81-717, p. 1204, §2; Acts 1984, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 84-793, p. 198, §1; Act 99-427, p. 759, §1; Act 2011-678, p. 1862, §6.)