Indigent Defense

Indigent defense expenditures are one of the major uncontrollable cost drivers in county budgets. The state should fully fund this unfunded mandate.

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Key Points

  • Texas counties are responsible for the costs of appointed counsel for indigent defendants.
  • Counties are authorized to deliver indigent defense services through a system that best meets local needs.
  • Providing court appointed counsel for indigent defendants is a major uncontrollable expense in county budgets.
  • Since passage of the Fair Defense Act, indigent defense costs have increased 228% from $91.4 million in 2001 to $299.9 million in 2019.
  • In FY 2019, the state funded only about $28.5 million of the total statewide indigent defense costs, while counties contributed approximately $271.4 million (about 90% of the total costs).
  • Additional state funding in the next legislative session would assist counties and their taxpayers in offsetting the costs of this significant unfunded mandate.

Additional Information

  • Support More State Funding for Indigent Defense (Infographic)

Graphics Gallery

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