"It is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status."

- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr.

In 1963, in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the United States Supreme Court ruled that all people charged with crimes, even those who cannot pay, have the right to a lawyer. Following the Gideon decision, Delaware established one of the nation’s first statewide indigent defense organizations - the Public Defender’s Office (PDO).

In May 2015, Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 47 which established Delaware’s Office of Defense Services (ODS). ODS is comprised of three divisions: Central Administration, the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) and the Office of Conflicts Counsel (OCC). Senate Bill 47 was enacted, in part, to expand and restructure the former PDO to better reflect Delaware’s indigent defense system, its legal and administrative functions, services, and organization. More importantly, the creation of ODS will enable our lawyers to better defend our clients while furthering our vision for indigent defense.

In all state courts in Delaware, the ODS lawyers defend indigent adults and all juveniles in criminal cases in which incarceration may be imposed as a sentence. ODS employs highly skilled and dedicated attorneys who handle cases ranging from traffic offenses to capital murder. In addition, ODS is a leader in legislative and policy initiatives in the areas of criminal and juvenile justice.

ODS strives to foster respect for all individuals. Our personnel are committed to bias-free decision making in all aspects of our business, including hiring, client services, and establishment and enforcement of workplace policies. Management and staff never consider age, color, disability, gender, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation as bases for the many decisions and operations of the office.

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