Criminal defendants who show an inability to pay for their legal defense are afforded a court-appointed public defense attorney. In Los Angeles County, the public defenders earn higher than the national average does for court appointed counsel and less than the average privately practicing attorney does. The public defenders in Los Angeles are separated by title classification and paid on a scale commensurate with their title and experience.
Deputy Public Defender
The position of Deputy Public Defender of Los Angeles County is divided into four grades or classes. Each class is attributed a pay range for attorneys filling each respective billet. The Deputy Public Defender I earns a starting salary of $4,622.18 per month and can ascend to a monthly salary of $6,062.45. The salary for a Deputy Public Defender II starts at $6,290.64 to $9,195.55 monthly. An attorney who is employed as a Deputy Public Defender III receives a salary ranging from $8,029.45 to $11,117.91 per month. The highest grade Deputy Public Defender, class IV, receives a monthly salary starting at $8,993.45 up to $13,146.82.
Head Deputy Public Defender
Heading a group of deputy public defenders is the position of Head Deputy Public Defender. As of 2009, Head Deputy Public Defenders received a single-tiered salary of $14,964.46 per month.
Division Chief Public Defender
The position of Division Chief Public Defender oversees Los Angeles County's Head Deputy Public Defenders. The Division Chief Public Defender's position comes with a monthly salary of 17,293.59.
Assistant Public Defender and Public Defender
The two Assistant Public Defenders and one acting Assistant Public Defender positions are directly under the charge of the County Public Defender. The salary for the Assistant Public Defender Position is $19,984.90 monthly. Los Angeles County has one Public Defender position and it pays an annual salary of $270,000 as of July 2011.