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Public Defender

June 3, 2022 Update

Board of Supervisors appoints Thomas Sone as Public Defender

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday appointed interim Public Defender Thomas Sone to serve as the county’s new Public Defender.

Public Defender Thomas Sone

“We are very fortunate to have someone with Tom’s credentials, experience, and dedication on our team,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman.

Sone has served as interim Public Defender since December and previously served as Assistant Public Defender. He joined the Public Defender’s Office in 2001 after briefly working for a private law firm in Los Angeles. Sone began with the County as a Deputy Public Defender I and worked his way up to the position of Lead Deputy Public Defender V before being named Chief Deputy Public Defender in 2013 and Assistant Public Defender in 2018.

Along the way, Sone litigated serious and complex felony cases, trained and mentored newer attorneys, assigned cases, participated in community programs, and collaborated with various agencies to develop programs that better deliver services to our community.

“The Public Defender’s Office and this county hold a very special place in my heart,” Sone said. “For the past 20 years within the department, I’ve grown not just professionally but also as a person. Both the leadership of this department as well as this county have shaped who I’ve become. I am humbled and honored by the appointment.”

Sone is the county’s first Asian American and Pacific Islander Public Defender. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego, School of Law and holds two Bachelor’s degrees from Washington State University. He is also a graduate of the San Bernardino County Management and Leadership Academy.

The Public Defender provides legal representation to criminal or civil commitment defendants who cannot afford to hire an attorney. The office represents adults and juveniles charged with misdemeanor or felony crimes, and persons facing involuntary civil commitment for mental disorders or commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator statute.

In addition to attorneys, the San Bernardino County Public Defender employs investigators to fully investigate cases handled by the department. The Department also has a staff of social workers and support staff to provide the best representation for clients.

Using a holistic approach, the Public Defender seeks to increase client opportunities for achieving self-sufficiency. In addition to providing legal defense, the office also seeks to arrange client access to social service programs and assistance with receiving alcohol and drug rehabilitation services and counseling for mental health issues.

Learn how to clear your criminal record or traffic citation

handcuffsThe Public Defender’s Office in conjunction with Abundant Living Family Church is holding a criminal record and traffic citation clearing clinic on Nov. 15.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Abundant Living Family Church, 17555 Mauna Loa Street in Hesperia.

For more information about the event, contact Christina Schondel at the Victorville Public Defender’s Office at 760-243-8954.

Click here for more details.

Charity golf tournament to benefit youth, families

Wood Driver by Golf BallThe 5th Annual Charity Golf Tournament benefitting children and families will be held Oct. 24 beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Tukwet Canyon Golf Club, 36211 Champions Drive, in Beaumont.

CASA of San Bernardino, the San Bernardino County Public Defender and Enhancing Forward Action, Inc. are hosting the tournament in a collaborative effort to raise funds to enhance the lives and advocate for our community’s children and families in the areas of stability in foster care, hope, and obesity prevention with fitness and nutrition. It is our hope that you share the same desire and dreams for children who are in much need of an opportunity to become successful, productive, and healthy citizens in our society.

For more information regarding the Golf Tournament and sponsorship donations contact:

Steve Lozolla, Tournament Organizer (909) 877-3332

Marco Pulido, Advocate Supervisor at CASA of SB County (909) 881-6760  or

Click here for more information about the tournament.

Public Defender warns residents of scam

PD logo finalThe San Bernardino County Public Defender’s office is issuing a warning about a sophisticated phone scam that may be targeting residents in the community.

Scammers, impersonating loved ones, are calling residents informing them that they, a loved one, have found themselves in trouble and incarcerated in a San Bernardino County jail for driving under the influence and hit and run. The impersonator advises family members that a public defender has worked out a great deal whereby a case is dismissed or the charges dropped if a relative pays for the damages to the vehicle. A second person, impersonating a public defender, follows up with a call to the family member, advising him/her that he/she is the assigned public defender and has negotiated a deal that allows for the case to be dismissed and the loved one to be released from custody. The impersonator directs the relative to send $5,000 (or a variation thereof) for restitution, giving instructions on how and where to send the money.

Residents should be aware that no public defender will contact a member of the public by telephone to demand money via wire transfer or any other form of payment. Anyone receiving such a phone call should refuse the demand and contact his/her local law enforcement agency.

Deputy public defender recognized for her work with children

imageDeputy Public Defender Sandra “Sandy” Wingfield from the Central Juvenile Unit received an award for her tireless work representing children at the 16th Annual “Shine A Light On Child Abuse” Awards Breakfast.

Numerous individuals from many county departments such as Children and Family Services, and Department of Behavioral Health, and individuals from the community and private sectors were also honored.

Sandy is a respected fixture in the Juvenile Court community. She helps find housing for the children who are aging out of juvenile services and have no place to live. She locates services in the community for minors with special needs. She is instrumental in finding mental health care, counseling, medication, and available drug rehabilitation beds for children who suffer from drug addiction. Overall, she is just a great asset to the office and the juvenile community in San Bernardino.

Within the office, Sandy has been a mentor for the newer attorneys in the office. She is always available to answer questions, advise on cases and challenge attorneys to do better in their representation of children. She is also the lead attorney in all of our juvenile specialty courts, Drug Court, 241 committee, CITA court, to name a few. Her professional demeanor and presentation is respected by the court, her peers, opposing counsel, and most of all, by the children she serves.


Public Defender’s truancy program highlighted by state association

PD logo finalMaking Attendance a Priority (MAP) is a collaborative, grant-funded program designed by the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office to reduce truancy in the City of San Bernardino.

MAP assigns a social services practitioner to visit families of truant students in their homes on a weekly basis to address issues leading to the child’s truancy. From 2008-13, MAP served more than 1,800 children. In a recent sampling of 43 students, 32 of them attended 70 percent more classes than before they were identified by the school district for the program.

MAP has also increased revenue to the San Bernardino City Unified School District at an average of $21,000 per year because of the increase in attendance.

In November, the California State Association of Counties chose Making Attendance a Priority for a 2013 CSAC Challenge Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the state.

The MAP program is just one example of how the County is using collective impact to solve complex problems as part of the Countywide Vision’s Cradle to Career goal.

Here is a video CSAC recently produced about the program:

Expungements, record sealing and certificates of rehabilitation available

PD logo finalThe San Bernardino County Public Defender will be providing information for expungements, record sealing and certificates of rehabilitation from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on November 27 at a Health and Wellness Expo being held at Sewell Park in Fontana.

Some individuals who are not eligible to petition the court to set aside a conviction pursuant to California Penal Code section 1203.4 or 1203.4a may be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR), which is a court order that a person convicted of a felony is now rehabilitated. If the COR is granted, it becomes an application that is forwarded to the governor for a pardon. The governor may grant or deny the pardon.

Once a person has completed the required period of rehabilitation, a person may file for a COR in his/her current county of residence.

Public Defender staff assists individuals with becoming productive and positive members of the community by clearing criminal convictions through a process that is often referred to as an expungement.

Qualifying individuals seeking to clear their criminal records will submit a petition to the court pursuant to California Penal Code section 1203.4 or 1203.4a. The petition must be filed in the county where the conviction originated. In other words, San Bernardino courts will only handle petitions on San Bernardino County convictions. If the court grants the petition, the guilty plea is withdrawn and replaced with a not guilty plea, and then the court subsequently dismisses the case.

The court’s act of granting the petition does not destroy the court’s record of conviction. However, it may assist individuals with obtaining employment or registering for school. This is just one aspect of our holistic approach towards rehabilitation and reintegration in a way that benefits the community.

Forms can be located at under the Community Outreach section or questions can be answered at the event.

For more information visit the Public Defender’s website at or call (909) 382-3950.

Turkeys and fixings donated to foster youth by Public Defender

tdaydonationsThe Office of the Public Defender collected more than $500 in groceries for CASA, a nonprofit organization serving foster youth and juvenile offenders throughout San Bernardino County.

Four 15-pound turkeys, two hams, Thanksgiving-themed plates, utensils and other fixings were collected for CASA’s Thanksgiving event which is expected to serve 35-45 foster youth and staff. The Public Defender’s office also collected $400 in cash and grocery store gift cards to supplement the event.

In San Bernardino County, there are approximately 5,400 children and youth living in foster care.

Public Defender’s Office helps raise $9,000 at charity golf tournament

GolfThe Public Defender’s Office co-sponsored the fourth annual CASA golf tournament at the Tukwet Canyon Golf Course in Beaumont to help raise money for two local organizations, San Bernardino CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and Enhancing Forward Action.

Golfers and volunteers showed up to show their support, by way of paying for a day of golf or purchasing raffle tickets for prizes donated by local businesses and individuals.

The October 25 event raised an amazing $9,000.00. Members of the public defender’s office played an integral role in planning and soliciting donations and golfers for the event. The Public Defender’s Office alone had 19 members from all job classifications, either volunteering at the event or participating as golfers.

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