The Metropolitan Public Defender’s Office in Nashville has received reports about a phone scam in which a resident (usually in another city) gets a call from someone claiming to be from this Office. The caller tells that person that they have a loved one in jail here who needs their help to make bond. The scammer provides a fake name and phone number for the loved one’s “public defender,” and instructs the family member to call them. When the family member calls, someone pretending to be that “public defender” instructs the family member to wire money so a loved one can make bail. Sometimes the scam even involves a person crying, distraught, and pretending to be the person’s family member. This scam reoccurs periodically, and sometimes the caller will even claim to have a bar number or attorney number.

THIS IS A SCAM, AND YOU SHOULD NOT RESPOND. No public defender in Nashville (or anywhere else) will contact a member of the public by telephone or any other means demanding money via wire transfer or any other form of payment. Anyone receiving such a phone call should refuse the demand and contact their local law enforcement agency or the Metropolitan Public Defender’s Office.

Public Defender Offices in other states — including California, Missouri, and Ohio — have been the subject of similar scams. Information about those scams can be found here:

Also, please do not pay for a referral to our Office. People charging for legal referral information are also running scams. Nobody associated with our Office will ever charge a referral fee. Anyone can call our Office to inquire about services. We have Spanish speakers and other language translation services in our reception intake, 615-862-5730. A public defender never takes money from a client or charges for services. Even a court-appointed private attorney will not ask for money. And privately hired attorneys should be verified. Our Office will represent criminal charges in Davidson County. To practice law in TN, you must be licensed in TN. Anyone contacting you from another state or jurisdiction should be questioned if selling legal services.