Attorney Certification System (ACeS) Instructions:
Frequently Asked Questions
The requirements for eligibility are set forth in Virginia Code § 19.2-163.03. A list of requirements and applications for court-appointed counsel certification can be found on this website. Please see the Initial Certification page for more details. After verification that all requirements have been met, counsel will be added to the Commission’s Certified Counsel List.
Yes. Per Virginia Code § 19.2-163.03, any attorney wishing to accept court-appointed cases must be certified by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission. Therefore, certification applies to both private attorneys and attorneys employed in a Public Defender Office.
No. Only attorneys in good standing with the Virginia State Bar (VSB) are eligible to accept court appointments. Just as the VSB does not accept MCLE credit hours taken before an attorney is licensed, the VIDC only allows those attorneys in good standing and eligible to accept court appointments to attend the Initial Certification training.
Under Virginia Code § 19.2-159, where the court must refer to the list of eligible attorneys to appoint counsel, such counsel “shall be selected by a fair system of rotation among members of the bar practicing before the court whose names are on the list maintained by the Indigent Defense Commission.” Selection processes vary from court to court. Certified counsel should contact the local clerk’s office to find out the criteria for getting on the court’s list of counsel eligible for court appointments.
Per Code of Virginia§ 19.2-163. Compensation of court-appointed counsel, compensation questions should be directed to either the initial court where the voucher was submitted or to the Virginia Supreme Court. The Virginia Indigent Defense Commission does NOT manage compensation of private court appointed counsel.
Per Code of Virginia§ 19.2-163. Compensation of court-appointed counsel, please visit the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia – Fiscal Services for information regarding court-appointed counsel compensation and waivers.
After initial certification, attorneys shall re-certify every two (2) years by completing VIDC approved MCLE course hours to satisfy the requirements set forth in Code of Virginia § 19.2-163.03. Qualifications for court-appointed counsel. Please visit the Re-certification page for an overview of the number of hours required for each case type and a list of approved and upcoming courses.
Attorneys who fail to re-certify before their expiration date are removed from the court-appointed counsel list. The names of attorneys removed from the list are reported to the Office of the Executive Secretary for the Virginia Supreme Court in accordance with § 19.2-163.01(4). Attorneys may be returned to the list of eligible attorneys for court appointments only upon reporting to the VIDC that they have completed the statutorily required hours for Re-Certification .
No. The Initial Certification Training may NOT be used towards re-certification. After initial certification, an attorney may maintain their eligibility by taking VIDC-approved MCLE courses. A list of approved courses is published on this website on the Re-Certification page.
If you have taken a criminal defense related CLE course (approved by the Virginia State Bar) that is not already approved for eligibility by the VIDC and believe it meets requirements for credit, please contact the Certification Department at email@example.com with a detailed description of the course.
No. Code of Virginia § 19.2-163.03. Qualifications for court-appointed counsel mandates the process for re-certification. While attorneys with extensive criminal law experience may receive a waiver of the initial certification requirements, all attorneys must submit the statutorily required hours for re-certification every two (2) years to remain on the Certified Counsel List.
Yes. Attorneys may re-certify through any of the traditional methods for receiving MCLE credit: live, video replay, online, webinar, telephone, etc.. Once an attorney has completed the course, the attorney should report the course name and the amount of hours received to the Commission. This can be completed using the online Attorney Certification System (ACeS) or by using a re-certification application.
A list of approved MCLE courses is published on the Commission’s website, located on the Re-Certification page. If you have taken a course that is not listed on the website and believe it meets requirements for the re-certification credit, please contact the Certification Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
No. The standard for representation as a GAL differs from that of a defense attorney. Courses for GAL representation are designed around a different standard and do NOT meet the certification requirements for indigent defense counsel.
No. The Virginia Indigent Defense Commission (VIDC) and the Virginia State Bar (VSB) are separate entities. Attorneys wishing to maintain their certification may submit their completed CLE hours to the VIDC by using the online Attorney Certification System (ACeS) or by using a re-certification application.
Yes. Just as the Virginia State Bar permits up to four (4) hours of MCLE credit for each hour of MCLE taught, the Commission has approved the same practice for attorneys who teach certification courses. Attorneys interested in teaching an MCLE course should contact the VIDC Training Department at Training@vadefenders.org.
Yes. Juvenile certification only governs representation of juvenile defendants. Juvenile certification is not needed to represent adult defendants even if the charges are heard in juvenile court or involve a juvenile complainant.
Attorneys can download a copy of the Standards of Practice from the Commission’s website. See the Standards of Practice page.
All attorneys accepting court appointments for indigent defendants are bound by the Standards of Practice for Indigent Defense Counsel. If a person believes that someone has violated the Standards, please file a complaint through the Standards of Practice Enforcement Attorney. More information on the enforcement process is available on the Commission’s website. See the Standards of Practice page.