How to Apply for Eligibility for the Public Defender or Pre-Trial Private Home Detention Monitoring Program

When to Apply with a District Court Commissioner 

A District Court Commissioner will determine whether you qualify to be represented by the Office of the Public Defender for District Court or Circuit Court criminal and traffic cases that carry a penalty of incarceration and/or if you are qualified for the Pre-Trial Private Home Detention Monitoring Program.

If you are determined qualified, you are qualified for representation by the Public Defender and/or the Pre-Trial Private Home Detention Monitoring Program. If you are applying for the purpose of representation by the Public Defender, you must contact them for representation after being found qualified. (See IMPORTANT below)

If you have not applied for the Public Defender or were found ineligible for the Public Defender but your financial circumstances have changed, you may apply for the Pre-Trial Private Home Detention Monitoring Program by using the same form and process as provided below for the Public Defender. 

If you apply in person, you will be interviewed by a District Court Commissioner and complete a written application, Form DC-099, and you will be asked to provide information about your income, expenses, and assets.

You may alternatively apply online using the Guide and File Interview. Guide & File is a new tool developed by the Maryland Courts to help complete court forms online. The application guides you through a series of questions called an "interview."

 1.Complete Guide & File Interview here

Guide and File

2. You will be given the option to either submit the online application via email or print the documents to submit either in person or by mail to the District Court Commissioner’s Office. Follow the Instructions provided in the Next Steps document provided at the completion of the GUIDE & FILE ONLINE Interview. 

3. Upon review of your application, the District Court Commissioner may need to contact you for additional information or for you to provide certain documents to verify the information you provided.

Those documents may include:

Court charging documents/traffic tickets. 
(Statement of Charges/all documents issued to you by the Court.)

Trial date notices from the Court. 
(You may apply even if you haven't received your trial date notice.)

If you are employed: written proof of salary, pay stubs, or other written verification of income for the last two (2) pay periods. 

If you are unemployed: proof of public assistance, medical assistance, Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or other assistance you are receiving.

When to Apply Directly with the Public Defender

  • Child in Need of Assistance (CINA).
  • Juvenile Court cases.
  • Appellate Court cases.

Visit the Office of the Public Defender website for District/County Offices or toll free 1-877-430-5187

District Court Commissioner Locations

Commissioner locations can be found at:

You may also call 1-833-453-9799 for location information.

You may apply at any District Court Commissioner's Office, not just in the county where you go to court.


If you are seeking to be represented by the Public Defender and the District Court Commissioner determines that you are eligible, you must go to the Office of the Public Defender, with your written determination of eligibility to be represented by the Public Defender. Failure to do so will mean that you will not be represented by the Public Defender at trial.


To Check Your Qualification Status

You may check Maryland Judiciary’s Public Case Search to check your status on the website at:

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