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At a Glance (as of 2013)

Percentage of state funding: 0%
Percentage of local funding: 100%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%
State commission: none
Branch of government: no statewide component


Structure & Funding of Indigent Defense Services

Utah provides no state funding for the right to counsel. Its county- and municipality-based systems remain entirely decentralized with no oversight by state government.

For felony and delinquency representation, each county provides indigent defense services through some variation of the basic contract model. In most, the county contracts directly with a handful of private attorneys to serve as the county’s public defense provider for an annual fee. In others, the county contracts with a single attorney who then serves as coordinating attorney for a consortium of private contract attorneys. And in the major urban counties, such as Salt Lake County (Salt Lake City) and Utah County (Provo), the county contracts with a nonprofit law firm to operate as the county’s primary right to counsel service provider.

Misdemeanor representation is largely the responsibility of each municipality. (In each incorporated town or city, it is the local government’s obligation to provide for right to counsel services to any defendant accused of having committed a B- or C-level misdemeanor within its incorporated limits. In non-incorporated parts of a given county, the same responsibility falls to county government to fulfill.) With the exception of the more urban parts of the state, each local city or township in Utah generally hires a single private attorney to represent all misdemeanor defendants in their local courts. Often, it is the same private attorney who has contracts with many (if not all) townships in the county, handling one court’s cases on one day before moving to another’s the next day.

Statutory Authority

Utah Code Ann. 77-32 § 101 through 704

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff.