As of July 1, 2004, all attorneys wishing to represent accused persons entitled to court appointed counsel must be certified by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission.
Pursuant to Virginia Code § 19.2-163.01, the Virginia General Assembly established the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission to carry out the Commonwealth’s constitutional obligation to provide attorneys for indigent persons accused of crimes that carry a potential penalty of incarceration or death. The Commission is statutorily mandated to oversee the certification and recertification of all court appointed attorneys providing criminal indigent defense services, to enforce Standards of Practice and to directly oversee the state public defender offices. The Commission maintains a list of attorneys qualified to represent indigent persons.
“[I]n our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him. This seems to us to be an obvious truth . . . .” Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 344 (1963).