Deputy Public Defender III

  • Sonoma County, CA
  • Santa Rosa, California
  • Aug 29, 2023
Full Time Public Safety
  • Salary: $157,452.33 - $191,388.90 Annually USD

Job Description

Position Information

Bring your passion for public service and continue your legal career by becoming a Deputy Public Defender III with the County of Sonoma.

English/Spanish Bilingual skills are highly desired!

The Deputy Public Defender I/II/III/IV positions will be filled at the appropriate level, depending on the candidate's qualifications. As attorneys gain experience and meet or exceed performance standards, they are eligible for promotion to subsequent levels in the series, up to level IV. If you are interested in being considered at the various levels of this opportunity, you must apply to the separate, concurrent recruitments being conducted for those levels. If you are an experienced attorney, please check out our II, III, and IV-level recruitments.

Working at the County of Sonoma offers expansive opportunities for growth and development, the ability to be a part of a challenging and rewarding work environment, and the satisfaction of knowing you're working to better our communities. You can also look forward to flexible work arrangements and excellent benefits** including:

  • A hybrid telework schedule that meets the needs of our staff, department operations, and the communities we serve may be available depending on the assignment
  • Eligibility for a salary increase after 1,040 hours (6 months when working full-time) for good work performance; eligibility for a salary increase for good performance every year thereafter, until reaching the top of the salary range
  • With time and good performance, the opportunity for advancement to Deputy Public Defender IV (salary up to $204,203/year)
  • County paid 100% premium contribution for the majority of employee-only and employee + family health plan options
  • An annual Staff Development/Wellness Benefit allowance of up to $3,002 and ongoing education/training opportunities
  • Premium pay of $1.15/hour, in addition to the hourly pay rate, for bilingual assignments**
  • Competitive vacation and sick leave accruals, 12 paid holidays, and an additional 8 floating holiday hours per year
  • County contribution to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement to help fund post-retirement employee health insurance/benefits
  • Retirement fully integrated with Social Security
  • May be eligible for up to 8 weeks (320 hours) of Paid Parental Leave after 12 months of County employment

T he Public Defender's Office

The Public Defender and his Office have the mandated responsibility of defending any person who is not financially able to employ counsel and who is charged with the commission of any contempt or offense triable in the superior or municipal courts. Additionally, the Public Defender represents qualified individuals in probate and welfare proceedings, and may represent any person who is not financially able to employ counsel in proceedings relating to the nature or conditions of detention prior to adjudication.

When you join the Office as a Deputy Public Defender III, you will perform legal work involving the investigation, preparation, and presentation of criminal and civil cases before the courts. Using your independent judgment and initiative, you will work directly with both English and non-English-speaking clients to:
  • Investigate, research, prepare, and defend criminal and/or civil cases
  • Interpret and apply laws, court decisions, and other legal authorities for use in the preparation of cases, opinions, and briefs
  • Prepare pleadings and other legal documents in connection with trials, hearings, and other legal proceedings
  • Conduct general legal research
  • Interview and advise witnesses regarding criminal complaints
The ideal candidate will have a substantial interest in criminal defense work and possess:

  • Experience working as an attorney, law clerk, or other professional legal position
  • Impeccable research and writing abilities
  • Experience and knowledge of post-conviction relief
  • Demonstrable excellence in public speaking
  • Experience in a Public Defender's office
  • The highly desirable ability to speak, read, and write in Spanish and English
The County of Sonoma

Sonoma County offers a rare and compelling array of scenic, recreational, and geographic characteristics - including over 200 award-winning wineries, inspiring coastline and beaches, the Russian River, and majestic redwoods. The County encompasses over one million acres of land and water; rich with agriculture, parks, campsites, lakes, and open space. Sonoma County is also home to a wide variety of restaurants, art and music festivals, farmers' markets, and concert venues. Local schools continually rank high on California's Academic Performance Index, and the Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University offer higher education opportunities. Sonoma County is an increasingly diverse region and is home to approximately 500,000 residents. The Latino population has grown by almost 230% within the last 25 years and is approximately 27% of the population. In 2016, slightly over half of Sonoma County’s population was between 25 and 64 years old; however, between 2007 and 2016, the fastest growing age range in the county were those aged 65 to 74.

Please visit and for additional information about Sonoma County - the place to live, work, and build your career legacy.

This recruitment is being conducted to fill a Deputy Public Defender position in the Public Defender's Office at either the I, II, III, or IV level. The employment list established from this recruitment may also be used to fill future full-time, part-time, or extra-help positions as they occur during the active status of this list. Qualified County employees who wish to be considered for future vacancies should consider applying to this recruitment.

**Salary is negotiable within the established range. Benefits described herein do not represent a contract and may be changed without notice. Bilingual positions require English and Spanish skills at either the basic (conversational) or fluent (reading, writing, and conversational) level. Applicants for bilingual positions must indicate their proficiency level in the required supplemental questionnaire. An examination will be conducted prior to employment to a bilingual designated position to confirm level of skill in this area. Bilingual premium pay of $1.15 per hour will be applied upon the assignment of bilingual work. Additional information can found in the Memorandum of Understanding between The County of Sonoma and SCDPDAA and our Employee Benefits directory .


Minimum Qualifications

Professional License: Current active membership in the State Bar of California.

Experience: Any combination of training and experience, which would provide the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and abilities listed. Normally, two years of legal experience practicing criminal law as a licensed attorney, including one year of experience comparable to the level of Deputy Public Defender II; or equivalent experience with another defense agency would provide such opportunity.

License: Possession of a valid driver’s license at the appropriate level including special endorsements, as required by the State of California, may be required depending upon assignment to perform the essential job functions of the position.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Considerable knowledge of: the duties, powers, limitations, and authorities of the Office of the Public Defender; the principles of criminal law, principles of trial procedure and rules of evidence; legal research methods and judicial procedures; statutory and constitutional laws of the State of California.

Ability to: research, analyze and apply legal principles, facts, evidence and precedents to legal problems; consistently prepare and present statements of law, fact and argument clearly, logically and persuasively in written and oral form in legal matters; establish and maintain effective working relations with other staff members, departmental representatives, county officials, the courts, law enforcement agency officials, and the general public; understand and accept differences in human behavior, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Selection Procedure & Some Helpful Tips When Applying
  • Your application information and your responses to the supplemental questions are evaluated and taken into consideration throughout the entire selection process.
  • You should list all employers and positions held within the last ten years in the work history section of your application. Be as thorough as possible when responding to the supplemental questions.
  • You may include history beyond ten years if related to the position for which you are applying. If you held multiple positions with one employer, list out each position separately.
  • Failure to follow these instructions may impact your competitiveness in this process or may result in disqualification.
Please visit Getting a Job with the County of Sonoma to review more detailed information about the hiring process, including the application process, examination steps, and department selection process.


Responses to supplemental questions will be used in assessing minimum qualifications. Please provide specific and detailed responses of a reasonable length to allow for a thorough assessment of your qualifications. Responses that state "See Resume" or "See Application" may be considered insufficient.

The selection procedure will consist of the following examination:

An Application & Supplemental Questionnaire Appraisal Examination(weight 100%). Each application and supplemental questionnaire will be thoroughly evaluated for satisfaction of minimum qualifications and relevance of educational coursework, training, experience, knowledge, and abilities that relate to this position. Candidates possessing the most appropriate job-related qualifications will be placed on an employment list and referred to the department for selection interviews.


A background investigation is required prior to employment. Candidates referred to departments for a selection interview are typically required to sign authorization and release forms enabling such an investigation. Failure to sign prescribed forms will result in the candidate not being considered further for that vacancy. Reference information will not be made available to applicants.

Additional requirements, such as successful completion of a physical exam, drug screen, etc., may apply, depending on the duties and responsibilities of the position. If you receive a conditional job offer for the position, the requirements upon which the offer is contingent will be outlined in the conditional job letter. You may also review the Job Classification Screening Schedule to determine the requirements for this position.


Applications are accepted online at . Paper applications may be submitted by person, fax (707-565-3770), email, or through the mail. All applications and appropriate supplemental information as outlined in the job bulletin must be RECEIVED by the time and date specified on the first page of this job announcement. Continuous recruitments may close without notice at any time that a sufficient number of qualified applications have been received. Applications received after the recruitment closes will not be accepted.

The County of Sonoma values diversity and is dedicated to creating a workplace environment that provides individuals with a sense of belonging. We are committed to having a diverse workforce that is representative of the communities we serve. The County is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer where all aspects of employment are based on merit, competence, performance, and business need.

HR Analyst: JT
HR Technician: RR

IMPORTANT NOTE: Benefits described herein do not apply to Extra Help positions.


These are some of the excellent benefits the County offers:

Paid Time Off : Competitive vacation accrual and sick leave accruals; additional management leave annually; 12 paid holidays, and an additional 8 floating holiday hours per year; and may be eligible for up to 8 weeks (320 hours) of Paid Parental Leave after 12 months of County employment.

Health Plan :Choice of five health plans (a PPO, EPO, HMO, and two deductible HMOs) with a County contribution toward the premium (the contribution amount varies by bargaining unit. For specific details, please refer to the applicable MOU). A County contribution to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement is available for some bargaining units.

Retirement :Fully integrated with Social Security.For more information regarding eligibility, retirement contributions, and reciprocity with prior public service, please visit .

IRS 457 Plan :Pre-tax employee contribution up to the IRS annual maximum.

Retiree Medical : County contribution to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement to help fund post-retirement employee health insurance/benefits.

Plus excellent dental, vision, disability, life insurance, professional development, and more.

For answers to specific questions regarding the employment process and more details about benefits or retirement, please contact Human Resources at (707) 565-2331 .Additional details about benefit and compensation packages can be found in the MOUs located at . For specific information about health and welfare benefits including plan options, coverage, and premium amounts go to or, contact the Human Resources' Risk Management-Benefits Office at or (707) 565-2900 .

*IMPORTANT NOTES: Benefits described herein do not represent a contract and may be changed without notice.

Closing Date/Time: Continuous

Base Pay


Job Address

Santa Rosa, California United States View Map