Standards of Practice for Indigent Defense Counsel

View Standards of Practice

In 2004, the Virginia General Assembly created the VIDC to provide oversight of and support for the attorneys performing court-appointed criminal defense work. As part of the new Commission's charge, the General Assembly in § 19.2-163.01 of the Virginia Code directed the Commission to establish standards of practice for indigent defense counsel. The Standards give meaning to the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel and further the overall goal of zealous and high-quality legal representation for each and every client. Specifically, Virginia's Standards of Practice for Indigent Defense Counsel are legislatively mandated under § 19.2-163.01(A)(4).

Public defenders as well as all private certified court-appointed counsel must comply with the Standards and Rules of Professional Conduct, which are incorporated by reference. These Standards should not serve as a benchmark for ineffective assistance of counsel claims or attorney discipline hearings. Rather, they should serve as standards of practice for court-appointed counsel and public defenders providing indigent defense in Virginia. Failure to comply with these Standards can result in the removal of the non-compliant attorney from the list of counsel certified for court-appointed representation.

Complaint Process

A Complaint Process brochure was developed by the VIDC to inform the general public about the Standards of Practice complaint procedure. The brochure lists and describes the intake and initial evaluation of the complaint and the five (5) steps of the complaint process. The complaint form is also linked below.

*Please note, the Standards of Practice Enforcement Process will not affect the outcome of a case or post-conviction matters beyond state direct appeal.

Mail Complaint Forms to:

Standards of Practice Enforcement
Virginia Indigent Defense Commission
1604 Santa Rosa Road, Suite 200
Richmond, VA 23229


If you have any questions about Standard of Practice for Indigent Defense Counsel, please contact:

Standards of Practice Enforcement Attorney
William Efird  |  (804)  662-7249, ext. 134