On Monday, State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) announced her Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 302 was officially signed into law by the governor. SEA 302 provides clear guidance for determining when defendants cannot afford a lawyer and therefore need a court-appointed public defender.

“This is a good step towards ensuring that all Hoosiers will have a chance at a fair defense in court, regardless of their income,” Sen. Tallian said. “Now that we have clear guidelines for establishing indigency, the guessing game is over.”

SEA 302 will standardize the system of determining indigency for defendants. Until now, each one of Indiana’s 92 counties used their own system, leading to confusion and unequal treatment solely based on geography.

“The previous system was simply unfair,” Sen. Tallian said. “Someone could end up hung out to dry without a defense lawyer, where another person in the same situation just a few miles down the road would receive a court-appointed attorney, all because the rules varied from county to county. Now we can be assured that every court in Indiana follows the same set of rules.”