About Us | Chief Public Defender | FAQ's
The Oklahoma County Public Defender's Office welcomes you to its home page. Here you will find a large amount of information about the office, as well as external links to other entities that may assist you in finding the information you desire.
The Public Defender's Office provides competent, quality legal representation to indigents in Oklahoma County who are charged with all types of criminal offenses, including misdemeanors, felonies, and capital crimes, as well as to our convicted clients who wish to appeal their convictions. The office, pursuant to court appointment, represents deprived children in juvenile and domestic cases, mentally ill persons in civil commitment hearings, and children and adults in other civil proceedings. The office also represents the interests of the public in making recommendations to judges regarding adoption expenses and protects the interests of children in contested adoptions. The office can be appointed to represent witnesses in multi-county grand jury cases by order of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma and is statutorily required to notify judges of anyone illegally incarcerated in the Oklahoma County Jail.
The late Hugo Black, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, has stated: "There can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has." This is the guiding philosophy of the men and women of the Oklahoma County Public Defender's Office.
In 1963, the United States Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright held that the 6th Amendment right to counsel applies to the states through the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Argersinger v. Hamlin extended this right to misdemeanor cases, and In re Gault extended the right to juveniles.
The Oklahoma County Public Defender's Office is established by statute, 19 O.S. Â§ 138.1 et seq., to provide representation to the indigent. The current Public Defender is Robert Ravitz, who assumed that job in July of 1987.
The Public Defender's Office has responsibility for numerous types of cases. The office comprises several divisions, including the following
All assistants in the Public Defender's Office are hired by and serve at the pleasure of the Public Defender. Salaries are set by the Chief Public Defender according to a salary structure and are comparable to the salaries of assistant district attorneys.
Our lawyers' attendance at numerous training and criminal law seminars demonstrates our commitment to excellence in trial work and appellate work. Public defenders have recently attended trial-training seminars in Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Nevada, California, and Wyoming, in addition to numerous local and in-house seminars presented by the Oklahoma Bar Association, criminal justice organizations, and our office.
A public defender must care about people - the mentally ill, the abused, the friendless, the poor, the downtrodden, and the defenseless. The Oklahoma County Public Defender's Office strives for the commitment to equal justice. There is a dedication and camaraderie in this office unparalleled in any other office. When an assistant loses a case, the office loses a case; when an assistant wins a case, the office wins a case.
While the Public Defender's Office has structured, weekly meetings wherein cases and legal issues are discussed, and a lawyer must have a supervisory lawyer with him at trial for the first ten trials, to a large degree, when you're in the courtroom, you are your own boss. You mature quickly as a Public Defender. You must be courageous enough to represent people who may not be liked by a large portion of the population. You must be dedicated to the commitment of preserving individual liberties. You must have the willingness and strength to get into the courtroom as an underdog and fight for your client so that the concept of equal justice under law will be more than a saying, but a fact.
Training for all real lawyers continues throughout their careers. It is that way with us. All lawyers are sent to at least one CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminar a year. In addition, in-house seminars with brought-in speakers are put on 2 to 3 times a year. All inexperienced lawyers (those with less than ten jury trials) are paired up with senior lawyers for any trials. Presentations concerning wide-ranging subjects from probation revocations to the rights of foreign nationals are regularly made during office staff meetings. Finally, all inexperienced public defenders are assigned their own mentors and receive regular training through in-house seminars on all subjects touching on our job. Lawyers that work for the Oklahoma County Public Defender's Office are regularly and thoroughly trained.
Chief Public Defender
Bob Ravitz is a 1976 graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, and he currently serves as Public Defender of Oklahoma County, a position he assumed in 1987. Mr. Ravitz is also an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University School of Law, teaching in the areas of trial practice, capital litigation, and criminal procedure.
In 1996, Mr. Ravitz was the Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association recipient of the Clarence Darrow Award as Oklahoma’s outstanding criminal defense lawyer. Ravitz successfully argued Cooper v. Oklahoma before the United States Supreme Court, where the Court unanimously concluded the Oklahoma standard for determining competency to stand trial was unconstitutional.
Ravitz has also received the Angie Debo Civil Liberties Award for significant contributions to civil liberties in 1985. In 2001, he was the recipient of the Oklahoma Bar Association, Association of Black Lawyers Diversity Award and the 2006 Oklahoma County Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association Barry Albert Award. In 2008, he was a recipient of the Journal Record Leadership in Law Award and in 2010 he received the Oklahoma City University Law School Distinguished Alumni Award. Ravitz was recently presented with the Opio Toure Champion of Justice Award by the Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers.
Mr. Ravitz is a former member of the Oklahoma Sentencing Commission and Oklahoma Board of Juvenile Affairs and currently sits on the Uniform Jury Instruction Committee. Mr. Ravitz previously served as president of the OCU Law Alumni Association, the Metro Alliance for Safer Cities, and the Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association. He was a Barrister of the American Inn of Court XIII from 1990 to 1993 and is currently a Master in the William J. Holloway Inn of Court.
Ravitz currently serves on the Board of Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, the Oklahoma County Drug Court, Community Sentencing and Court Services Boards. He has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Board of Juvenile Affairs, Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma, the Oklahoma County Bar Association, and the Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association.
Mr. Ravitz has lectured at numerous state and national seminars including those put on by the Oklahoma Bar Association, the National Judicial Conference, the Oklahoma Judicial Conference, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Virginia Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and the Oklahoma and Tulsa County Bar Associations. He has lectured at 4 Absolute Criminal Litigators Conferences in Las Vegas. He and his wife, Diane, have 2 daughters.
How do I get a public defender?
If I make bond can I still get a public defender?
Making bond creates a presumption that you are financially able to hire a private attorney. This presumption does not mean that you cannot get a public defender; it simply means that you must demonstrate financial need to the judge before he or she will appoint a public defender for you. For more information please call 405-713-1550.
How much money can I make and still qualify for the services of the Public Defender?
There is no fixed amount. When assessing your ability to pay for a private attorney, the court will consider all aspects of your current financial situation, including income, savings, assets, financial obligations, debts, and bankruptcies. If the court then decides that you cannot afford to hire a private attorney, it will appoint a public defender to represent you. For more information please call 405-713-1550.
Are public defenders real lawyers?
Absolutely. Public defenders rank among the best, most experienced criminal defense lawyers in the state. All public defenders have at least a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school and a license to practice law from the Oklahoma Bar Association. The average public defender in our office also has over four years’ experience specializing in criminal defense, and all public defenders participate in continuing legal education seminars to stay current with developments in criminal law. For more information please call 405-713-1550.
Would I be better off hiring a private attorney?
If you can afford to hire a private attorney, you should hire one, because you are not entitled to the services of the public defender. If you can’t afford a private attorney, keep in mind that public defenders are outstanding attorneys. Public defenders are extremely experienced: they try more cases in a year than many attorneys try in a lifetime. Public defenders are also highly specialized: because they work exclusively on criminal defense in Oklahoma County, they have an unparalleled, intimate knowledge of the criminal justice system here. Private attorneys and public defenders go to exactly the same law schools, represent the same types of individuals, and produce similar results in the courtroom. Many private attorneys in this county have worked as public defenders, and many public defenders have worked in private practice. For more information please call 405-713-1550.
How do you defend someone you know is guilty?
When is my next court date?
I've forgotten my lawyer's name. How do I find out who represents me?
Are all court-appointed attorneys public defenders?
No, when it would be impossible for our office to fairly represent an individual - a witness against one of our clients, for example - the court appoints a private attorney, called a conflict attorney, instead of a public defender. For more information please call 405-713-1550.
What is a guardian ad litem?
Guardians ad litem are attorneys appointed by the court to represent children in domestic proceedings. Guardians ad litem are most often appointed in cases involving allegations of abuse or neglect. For more information please call 405-713-1550.
320 Robert S Kerr Avenue, #400
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Address: Yanta District, XianShi, Shaanxi, China
Hours: 8:00am-5:30pm (Mon-Fri)
Address: Oklahoma City, OK
Hours: 7 am - 4 pm (M-F)