A public defender is a government-appointed legal aid that is responsible for defending an accused individual. Public defenders are awarded to a convicted individual under the United States Constitution; every man and woman has the right to legal representation and a fair trial.
Public defenders are essential to uphold an individual's rights, and they are awarded to individuals who cannot afford legal representation. Convicted individuals who cannot obtain the finances necessary for costly legal representation will be awarded a public defender to fight for their innocence. Typically public defenders are state employees who are paid through the local government system, however, there are also Federal Public Defender offices present in the United States judicial system.
The Federal Public Defender offices operate under two distinct models. The first model is a federal agency which operates under the Judicial branch of the United State's Federal Government. A public defender in this model performs mostly administrative and budgetary duties.
This model does not yield legal representation; the circuit courts of appeals in the United States are in charge of appointing a federal public defender, who in turn will hire lawyers, staff, and legal representation for the convicted individual.
The second model of the Federal Public Defender office is that of the community defender. Although the community defender is similar to public defenders, it is actually a corporation that receives federal funding and acts independently from the federal judiciary system. Regardless of the model, a federal public defender is funded through the federal government to provide defense services for individuals accused of a federal criminal offense who cannot afford legal representation.