Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy

Kentucky Public Defender Cases before the U.S. Supreme Court

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New Expungement Law Helps More Kentuckians

In response to Kentucky’s new felony expungement law, the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (KACDL), the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA), Clean Slate Kentucky and legal aid organizations are partnering to host a series of expungement information sessions.

The law is the result of House Bill 40, which was passed in the 2016 General Assembly and allows judges to expunge certain low-level felonies if the applicant has abstained from criminal activity for a period of five years. It was sponsored by Rep. Darryl Owens with Rep. David Floyd acting as primary co-sponsor and backed by Gov. Matt Bevin. The measure took effect July 15.

To determine if you are eligible for expungement and to get help with your expungement, visit:


Expungement Eligibility Pamphlet: a quick-reference guide with flow-charts to help determine if you are eligible for expungement.

Lawyers Guide to Expungement: a comprehensive packet outlining Kentucky's new law, the necessary steps to seek expungement, required forms, proposed motions and other useful tips.


County Clerk Filing Information can be found on the AOC website.

Public Advocate testifies before Joint Judiciary on state of Kentucky’s public defense



Contact: Jessie Luscher



2016 Public Defense Annual Litigation Report released – Public defense provides public value

FRANKFORT, KY (Nov. 4, 2016) – “The value that public defenders provide to Kentucky’s citizens adds to its wealth in uncommon ways,” Public Advocate Ed Monahan reported to the Joint Judiciary Committee today on the state of Kentucky’s statewide public defense program. “From the district and circuit courts in all 120 counties to the Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court, our work ensures the system of law is balanced and fair for all those who come before it,” Monahan, Commissioner of the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA), Kentucky’s statewide public defender program, said. FULL PRESS RELEASE


The Department of Public Advocacy has moved to:


I-64 East
Take exit 58 from I-64 E onto US 60E / Versailles Road
Take your first right onto KY-1681 / Duncan Lane
Turn right on Mill Creek Park (entrance to complex)
Take your first right in the complex
You will see the Department of Public Advocacy directly in front of you
Additional parking is located behind the building

I-64 West
Take exit 58 from I-64 W
Turn left onto US-60/Versailles Road
Take your first right onto KY-1681 / Duncan Lane
Turn right on Mill Creek Park (entrance to complex)
Take your first right in the complex
You will see the Department of Public Advocacy directly in front of you
Additional parking is located behind the building

The Advocate



  • Felony Expungement Law Passes
  • 2016 New Legislation
  • It's Time for Criminal Justice Reform in Kentucky
  • Misdemeanor Jail Credits
  • Fayete Child Support Specialty Court
  • 2016 DPA Recognition Ceremony


Reading The Advocate is now more convenient than ever! In addition to our published version, the DPA is now offering a regularly-updated digital version. The Advocate Online You are now leaving the domain is a vital source of information for:

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Our Mission

To provide each client with high quality services through an effective delivery system, which ensures a defender staff dedicated to the interests of their clients and the improvement of the criminal justice system. The Department of Public Advocacy is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet headed by John Tilley, Secretary. DPA is the statewide public agency providing public defender service in all of Kentucky's 120 counties as will as Kentucky's appellate courts.

History of the DPA

A half century ago the Kentucky Supreme Court held that "common justice demands" that an attorney must be appointed when a person charged with a felony is too poor to hire his own counsel. Gholson v. Commonwealth, 212 S.W.2d 537 (Ky. 1948). In the 1960s Kentucky attorneys began to request compensation when they were forced to represent indigents charged with a crime. In 1963, the United States Supreme Court determined that if a state wants to take away a person's liberty, it has to provide an attorney to those persons too poor to hire their own in order to comply with the Federal Constitution. Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). While consistently unsuccessful in convincing Kentucky's highest Court that the judiciary could and should order payment, Kentucky's appointed attorneys did persuade the Kentucky Supreme Court to the point that the Court began to directly encourage the General Assembly to provide a systematic solution for paying the attorneys who were being made to represent the accused. On September 22, 1972, Kentucky's highest Court characterized the forced representation of indigents as an "intolerable condition" and held it was an unconstitutional taking of an attorney's property - his service to the client - without compensation. From then on no Kentucky attorney could be required to represent an indigent absent compensation. Bradshaw v. Ball, 487 S.W.2d 294 (Ky. 1972). While the appeal in Bradshaw was pending, the 1972 Legislature, at the request of Governor Wendell Ford, created the Office of Public Defender, now the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA), and gave it the responsibility to represent all persons in Kentucky charged with or convicted of a crime. House Bill 461 sponsored by Representatives Kenton, Graves and Swinford passed the House 60-18 on March 7, 1972 and the Senate 26-5 on March 14, 1972. It allocated $1,287,000 for FY 73 and FY 74.


See Also...
  CLE Opportunities for Criminal Defense Bar
Conferences, live distance learning, and recorded online distances learning from the DPA's Kentucky Public Defender College.

Department of Public Advocacy
5 Mill Creek Park
Frankfort, KY 40601

(502) 564-8006 - Phone
(502) 695-6767 - Fax

DPA Map and Directions

Field Office Contact Information

To contact the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet with a question, concern or suggestion, please click here. 

Last Updated 11/4/2016