Skip to main content

How Do I?

General Questions

The Oklahoma Indigent Defense System provides lawyers to defend criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers in District Court cases.

OIDS provides services in support of our clients’ defenses. These services include investigation, psychological and forensic expert analysis and testimony, attorney/client interpreter services, among others.

OIDS provides continuing legal education and training for criminal defense attorneys and investigators.

OIDS provides legal research and resource assistance to criminal defense attorneys and their clients.

The Oklahoma Indigent Defense System serves clients in District Court or trial level cases in 75 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. OIDS does not provide trial level attorneys to indigent defendants in Tulsa or Oklahoma Counties. These counties have their own public defender offices.

OIDS provides appellate representation in criminal cases in cases arising out of all counties. Most appeals arising out of Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties will be assigned to those counties’ public defenders offices. Under some circumstances, OIDS will be assigned to Tulsa and Oklahoma Counties appellate cases.

A defendant in a criminal case may apply for OIDS court-appointed counsel by filling out and filing an application for court-appointed counsel. The application may be picked up and filed at the Court Clerk’s office at the county courthouse in which the defendant is charged. There is a $40.00 application fee that goes to the Court Fund, not OIDS. The applicant may ask that the $40.00 fee be deferred until the end of the case.

In some counties, Judges will provide in-custody defendants with applications for court- appointed counsel about the time of initial appearances.

In other counties, in-custody defendants who would like to apply for OIDS assistance should request an application for court-appointed counsel from jail staff and ask the jail staff to deliver the completed application to the Court Clerk.

The application for court-appointed counsel or Pauper’s Affidavit may be found at the Court of Criminal Appeals website. It is form 13.3.

Not directly. We are happy to answer your questions when you call, but we would have to refer you to the Judge in the county where you are charged. Sheriffs, Jailers, and Court Clerks typically have forms on hand to apply for an OIDS attorney to represent you. Defendants in cases in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties are not eligible for OIDS representation but complete a similar application for the County Public Defender to be appointed.  

District court judges determine whether a defendant is indigent by applying standards developed by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The defendant fills out a form about his/her assets, liabilities, and sources of income. If the judge determines the defendant is indigent, OIDS is appointed. Title 22, O.S. § 1355A describes the procedure and criteria judges are to apply when considering a defendant’s application for court-appointed counsel (Pauper’s Affidavit.)

The Indigent Defense Act states, “If the defendant is admitted to bail and the defendant or another person on behalf of the defendant posts a bond, other than by personal recognizance, the court may consider such fact in determining the eligibility of the defendant for appointment of the System; provided, however, such consideration shall not be the sole factor in the determination of eligibility." 

Yes. District court judges advise defendants about their right to an appeal and their right to a court-appointed lawyer if they cannot afford one. The judge will appoint OIDS if the defendant is determined to be indigent.  A “Pauper’s Affidavit” also known as an application for court appointed counsel is included in the appeal forms.  These forms are called the Notice of Intent to Appeal/Designation of Record or NOI/DOR for short.

 A defendant’s privately hired trial attorney should help the defendant file the original appeal paperwork including the application for court appointed lawyer for the appeal.

If you are arrested for a crime, respectfully but firmly invoke your right to remain silent, do not consent to searches and seizures without a warrant, and invoke your right to counsel.  A sample invocation of constitutional rights is available upon request.

Trial Level: No.  The Oklahoma Indigent Defense System represents people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer in District Court criminal cases (trial level cases) in all counties except Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties.  The court (judge) will appoint OIDS to provide counsel in these counties once the court has considered the defendant’s application for court-appointed counsel and determined the applicant cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Tulsa and Oklahoma Counties follow the same process, but, in those counties, the court appoints the Oklahoma County or Tulsa County public defender following a determination of indigency.

For questions about a trial-level Oklahoma or Tulsa County case you may contact those Public Defender’s Offices.  Their websites are:

Become a Contractor

There are two types of Non-Capital Trial Services contracts: Fiscal Year County Contracts and Conflict Contracts. (Conflict Contracts are discussed in What are Non-Capital Trial Conflict Contracts.)

Under County Contracts, attorneys who are licensed in Oklahoma and have professional liability insurance agree to represent OIDS clients in District Court criminal cases. The types of cases covered by these contracts include non-capital felony, misdemeanor, traffic, and wildlife cases filed in District Court, and juvenile delinquency cases.

Fiscal Year County Contracts require contracting attorneys to represent all non-capital trial OIDS clients in a particular county or counties in which OIDS is appointed in a given fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from July 1 of a given year to June 30 of the next year. Compensation under these contracts is set at a specific money amount through the contractors’ agreement with the agency’s Board of Directors. Ten per cent of the total contract money amount is held and a revolving fund and distributed to the contractor following the fiscal year term as cases are closed. The remaining ninety per cent of the contract amount is divided by 12 and distributed in monthly payments throughout the fiscal year.

Each January, the Board of Directors considers current county contractors’ offers to renew their contracts for the upcoming fiscal year. Some contractors choose not to offer to renew their contracts. Some contracts, like mid-year replacement contracts, cannot be renewed per statute. Shortly after the January meeting the agency announces the counties in which the Board of Directors will solicit bids to contract for non-capital trial services for the upcoming fiscal year. Advertisements are placed in the Oklahoma Bar Journal and on the agency’s website.

Upon request, the agency provides potential contractors bid packets containing the bid application and historical caseloads and funding data. Bid submissions are usually due in mid-March. (See the agency events calendar on this website for current dates and deadlines.)

The Board of Directors considers county contract bids at their March meeting. At this meeting, the Board of Directors will accept/reject county contract offers or extend counter offers to bidders. If contract agreements are not reached for all open counties, the Board of Directors may approve a second round of bidding or authorize the opening of a satellite office for uncontracted counties.

Non-Capital Trial Conflict Contracts are contracts between the agency and individual attorneys/firms for non-capital trial services. The agency maintains a list of conflict contract attorneys who agree to accept individual case assignments when services cannot be provided through staff or county contract attorneys. Conflict contract attorneys invoice for their services at Board of Directors approved hourly rates.

Attorneys/Firms may apply for non-capital trial conflict contracts by completing the application below. Applicants must provide the Non-Capital Trial Division proof of good standing with the Oklahoma Bar Association and proof of professional liability insurance.

Conflict contractors may accept or decline case assignments at their discretion.

For more information regarding non-capital trial conflict contracts, contact Kevin Finlay, Chief of the Non-Capital Trial Division at (405) 801-2655 or

Attorneys/Firms may apply for capital trial conflict contracts by completing the application below. Applications, proof of good standing with the Oklahoma Bar Association, and proof of professional liability insurance should be submitted to Tim Laughlin, Executive Director. Questions regarding capital trial conflict contracts may be directed to

Attorneys/Firms may apply for appellate conflict contracts by completing the application below. Applications, proof of good standing with the Oklahoma Bar Association, and proof of professional liability insurance should be submitted to Cindy Danner, Chief of the General Appeals Division. Questions regarding appellate conflict contracts may be directed to

Additional Documents

Last Modified on Jun 14, 2023
Back to Top