Notice to Defendants Without Lawyers

Attorneys and staff of the District Attorney’s Office do not represent you. They represent the state and are seeking to convict you. They cannot give you legal advice (including whether you need a lawyer or not) and cannot help you complete any forms.

Your rights include the following:

  • To have an attorney represent you at all stages of your case, with a reasonable amount of time to find an attorney.
  • To have a State Public Defender attorney appointed to represent you, if you are indigent (very poor).
  • If the State Public Defender’s Office rejects your application for an attorney, to ask for a review of that decision by a judge, which may result in appointment of an attorney for you.
  • To petition the court for appointment of counsel at county expense, for which you may be eligible.
  • To hire your own attorney.
  • To proceed without an attorney to represent you.

To contact the State Public Defender’s Office, go to:

17 South Fairchild Street, 2nd Floor,
Madison, WI 53703
(The State Public Defender’s office is about one block away from the courthouse.)
Phone: (608) 266-9150
Fax: (608) 267-1777

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule 20:3.8 provides, in part, that prosecutors may discuss the matter with an unrepresented person, provide information regarding settlement and negotiate a resolution, which may include a waiver of constitutional and statutory rights, but shall not provide legal advice to defendants, including, but not limited to: whether to get a lawyer; whether to accept or reject a settlement offer; whether to waive important procedural rights; or give an opinion as to how the court or a jury is likely to rule in the case. Specifically, prosecutors shall not assist a defendant in the completion of guilty plea forms, forms for the waiver of a preliminary hearing, or forms for the waiver of a jury trial.