We estimate conservatively that the free resource DefenseMap.com can save attorneys 100-500 hours a year in information gathering--all while yielding vastly more information.  

Below is an outline of how the site can be understood and implemented in one of two ways: (A) in 10 minutes or (B) somewhat more thoroughly, in about 1 hour.  

We strongly encourage attorneys to consider having a highly competent staff member undertake a review of DefenseMap.com as well.  As well as learning this tool, that person can review The Promising Role of a Staff Member in Implementing Defense Maps for information on the game-changing role of what we call an Attorney-Client Liaison (ACL).

A. (10 minutes)  Watch defense counsel Jeff Kimmell's 2-minute video (available on the "Attorney and Staff" page), create your Professional Account from the Register/Log In button, and use the simple directions in the margin of that Professional Account to send one or more clients to the site.  

Tell them your version of, “This will help your case a ton!” or, “I need this to do the best for you.”  FAQ #3 has more information about simple approaches attorneys have been using to prompt client compliance.

B. (about 1 hour) This fuller exploration can occur with just the following. 

  1. Watching .  (1 minute)
  2. Watching .  (2 minutes)
  3. Looking over Quick Facts about DefenseMap.com.  (2 minutes)
  4. Looking over a couple Sample Maps (also available from “Sample Maps” on all webpages).  (15 minutes)
  5. From the homepage or directly from here, visiting the main links for Attorneys and Allied Professionals.  (10 minutes)
  6. Reading one or both of the short memos to professionals accessible from those pages:
  7. Opening a free Attorney Account (or Allied Professional Account).  (1 minute)

From there, you’re up and ready to refer your first client to the site.   

While not essential to commencing use of this resource, professionals wishing a quite detailed picture of the theory behind, contents of, and benefits to this resource are encouraged to see A Comprehensive Introduction to DefenseMap.comThe Constitutional Case for Incarcerated Persons’ Access to DefenseMap.com, and FAQs #24 and #25 on easily implementing a Security Zone version of this website in jails and prisons.

Remember you’re always welcome to use our Helpline for personal assistance.

There are two simple Options.  Feel free to use our Helpline if you have any questions about these.

Option #1 (an automatic email from our system):

Professionals can use the simple “Refer a client to Defense Map” link on the left column of their Accounts.  Upon doing so, (a) an email automatically goes to the client explaining the simple steps to completing a Defense Map and (b) upon completion the client will see a simple one-click way to put his Map on the Account of the professional who made the referral. 

Here is a copy of the system’s automatic Email referral to clients.  

Option #2 (sample emails attorneys can adapt for their own referrals)                         

Attorneys or their offices can make their own client referrals to the website by email, mail, or spoken instructions.

For attorneys wishing to use their own referrals, here is a link to 2 Sample Email Referrals they can adapt as they wish.

Here are three suggestions from attorneys successfully getting virtually all their clients to complete a Defense Map within a day.

  1. Finding your voice in making referrals.  Different attorneys seem to use different approaches in telling clients about the need for a Defense Map.  Some seem quietly explanatory (e.g., “This will help your case” or, “This will help you and me work together best”), while others seem more terse (e.g., “My job is to keep you out of prison, and I need this to do my job”).  What seems uniform is that attorneys can easily use whatever approach they find fits for them.
  2. Incorporating your version of 5 Things You Can Do to Help Your Defense.  Clients’ completion of a Defense Map fits into this short list of important obligations most clients are ready, willing, and able to hear and follow.
  3. Tasking a trusted staff member with introducing clients to 5 Things You Can Do to Help Your Defense and furnishing them (and their files) signed copies of them.  We've chosen the term Attorney-Client Liason (or ACL) for this person, something discussed in The Promising Role of a Staff Member in Implementing Defense Maps.

This can be a vital position in a private office or public defender agency.  For some ideas on it, see The Promising Role of a Staff Member in Implementing Defense Maps.

DefenseMap.com takes the security of user information as the highest priority.  We remain vigilant about all security matters and have never had a breach of security or instance of unauthorized access.  Here are some of the particulars of the state-of-the-art security precautions in place.

  1. The site runs under 256 bit SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).  All information passing between anyone’s browser and our system is fully encrypted.
  2. Our site requires users to combine a minimum 8-character username and 8-character password to open or access an account.
  3. All information entered is encrypted on our servers using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) technology. 
  4. Not even anyone on our staff or any of the web developers or engineers has access to your account or Defense Map information.
  5. To even further minimize the chances of anyone's Map being read by an unauthorized person, Maps aren't stored anywhere but instead are created only when a person with the necessary username and password is logged on and clicks on the command to create a Map.
  6. Anyone attempting to access a user’s responses without the applicable username and password would be required to overcome two highly defended obstacles: not only the encryption of the client-provided information but also the separate encryption of the Defense Map system itself.  
  7. To guard against a readable Defense Map accidentally being left on a shared computer, clients and attorneys when asking for a Defense Map to be prepared will see the option to have it password-protected.

We constantly work with a goal of ensuring that all information handled in this system is, in fact, overwhelmingly safer than any paper communications.

This depends largely on the complexity of the case, the client's background issues, and how much the client chooses to share.

We estimate that a thorough job on the website can take 2-4 hours.

We think it can help to remind clients they can log on and off as much as they wish to finish--and that they can even return to add more information after first finishing and receiving a Defense Map.

Defense Maps are entirely free.  Their use is underwritten by the Freedom 22 Foundation, the charity responsible for UpToParents.org, AssessFamily.org, and other free resources assisting the legal community's service of the public's best interests.  

People and charities wishing to assist in promoting awareness of this resource are welcome to contact us through our Helpline.

First, clients can use the ReadSpeaker icon to hear the questions read to them.

Second, they can contact us on our Helpline link.

Third, if they need “hands-on” help from a friend or family member, they can make sure their attorney approves.  The attorney can give guidance about the confidentiality of the information shared with the person offering help.

Finally, some law offices and public defender offices have arrangements for their staff members or volunteers to help clients with this work.  We think the opportunities here are almost limitless.  Whoever offers this assistance, of course, needs to be (i) working as an agent of the attorney and (ii) instructed in the law of attorney-client confidentiality.  Here are some possibilities, including using free volunteer or unpaid intern positions.

  1. Law office staff.
  2. Law students (who, by the way, could learn valuable lessons in superior representation from offering this assistance).
  3. Graduate students in social work, psychology, counseling, criminal justice, or many other fields.
  4. Undergraduate volunteers.  
  5. Retired persons.
  6. Service groups and other sources of voluntary community assistance.

All of this can be done easily from the Conclusion Page clients see after entering their information (or when logging back on after a Defense Map is first created).

While this is all easy to do, clients and attorneys with questions can always use our Helpline link.

While our website gathers many times more information than even lengthy face-to-face intakes, it also (a) evaluates clients’ information through over 40 screens and (b) organizes the Defense Map in ways that make the information as instantly usable as possible.

As one example, the second page of each Defense Map is a Flags page that concisely highlights some of the most significant issues disclosed by the client’s information.

For more information, we encourage you to see Distinguishing a Legal Practice with Defense Maps and Sample Defense Maps.


The Index of Supporters is a powerfully annotated list in each Defense Map of the people the client believes can help—whether by (i) helpful testimony or comment about the client or (ii) some tangible assistance in the client’s life.

The Index includes each supporter’s:

  1. Relationship to the client.
  2. Trustworthiness.
  3. Contact information.
  4. Specific help the client could expect from this person.

Each of the adult Defense Maps in the Sample Maps link on the upper-left of the homepage includes an “Index of Supporters.”

For some ideas on how a defense office can take maximum efficient advantage of each Index, see The Promising Role of a Staff Member in Implementing Defense Maps.

We absolutely think so.  Rarely are public defenders supported by even a fraction of the administrative and investigative assistance enjoyed by prosecutors. 

We’re available and anxious to consult about this.  We encourage any public defender office interested in this to consider Defense Maps as Part of Broader Support of Public Defenders and be in touch with us.

There isn’t.  Because the site must perform functions like (a) funneling clients into their case type, (b) selecting the relevant 300-500 questions from over 850 possible ones, and (c) following up on issues as they are disclosed, this would be an impossibly long and unusable book. 

We encourage professionals to work for incarcerated clients’ access to Internet-connected computers limited to use of DefenseMap.com.  See FAQ #25 with our thoughts on this and the current unconstitutional advantage police and prosecutors have, given that they routinely interview witnesses in locations with Internet access, as well as video and audio recording.

These are vital players in the delivery of effective representation of accused persons. 

We think of “Allied Professionals” as any persons working with a criminal defense attorney, whether on a specific case or in the ongoing delivery of criminal defense assistance in a private law office, public defender office, or other legal program.  In other words, they include both persons retained case by case and inhouse staff.

Allied Professionals can include, among others:

  • Law office and public defender office staff (secretaries, paralegals, administrators, directors, and others),
  • A staff person tasked to implement a plan to have all felony defendants complete a Defense Map,
  • Mitigation and sentencing specialists, and
  • Mental health professionals, addiction specialists, and other experts.

To protect attorney-client confidentiality, we think Allied Professionals must be acting under the direction of an attorney when making client referrals to DefenseMap.com.

Like attorneys, Allied Professionals may open their own professional account with DefenseMap.com and use that account to hold all Defense Maps that clients have elected to link to it.  From their accounts, Allied Professionals can also execute attorneys' direction to refer clients to DefenseMap.com.  

We encourage you to visit the "Allied Professionals" page (linked to the homepage).  From there you can access the memo "Defense Maps and the Expanding Role of Mental Health Professionals in Criminal Cases."  

And for information on how administrators with large private or public defender offices can lead the automatic procurement of Defense Maps at the start of all felony cases, FAQ #2 and FAQ #3.

We welcome any comments and inquiries through our Feedback and Helpline links.


Clients can add their Maps to the accounts of more professionals from the bottom of the Conclusion Page.

Professionals can also easily place Maps on each other's accounts (an option that can expedite co-professional cooperation).  This is accomplished by a link on professionals' accounts under each Map showing the option to place that Map on other professionals' accounts.  (Obviously, professionals will want to be sure to have the client’s permission before using this option.)

Defense Maps allow these allied professionals to help in a broad range of tasks, from securing the Maps to receiving them from clients, reading them and checking them for completeness, preparing memos for the entire team, and more. 

More information is available on the Allied Professionals link and in these articles. 


No anonymous tool should pretend to reach such conclusions.

A Defense Map is intended to be a valuable help for clients and the professionals working with them, who must together make these final decisions.

This is a term we use to describe one of the helpful possibilities a Defense Map offers to clients and counsel: aiding clients in an early opportunity to consider changes they might want to make in their lives.  

Section 21 in particular gives clients the chance to consider possible changes in 10 areas of their lives, as well as specific steps they might take as soon as possible to start those changes.   

More about Dynamic mitigation can be found in Distinguishing a Legal Practice with Defense Maps.

Absolutely.  The chance to review one's life (and life opportunities) is one of the chief reasons for DefenseMap.com.  

If you're choosing to do this, we'd recommend the "Trying to shorten incarceration" version for people who are in prison or jail, and the "Seeking expungement" version for people who are free.  

Good luck with this use of DefenseMap.com.  And feel free to use our Feedback link to let us know how it worked for you.    

Yes.  Clients held before trial have the option of answering questions bearing on their trustworthiness (a) to appear and (b) to avoid inappropriate activities while released.  Clients filling out this “Pretrial release” section will have a section in their Maps not only summarizing the inquiries of typical current risk assessments but also noting up to 15 commonly overlooked considerations indicating trustworthiness for pretrial release.  For examples of this powerful information, see the Defense Maps of Michael Peterson and Charlie Calhoun on the Sample Maps link at the top of this page or the homepage.

Here are some of the factors in Defense Maps that attorneys can use to show that clients are likely to be crime-free and compliant on pretrial release. 

  1. A high school degree or more.
  2. Lack of a youth arrest record.
  3. Compliance with any prior releases.
  4. Compliance with any times on probation or parole.
  5. A safe residence.
  6. Ties to the community.
  7. Responsible people to associate with.
  8. Responsible activities to engage in.
  9. A current or possible job.
  10. The specifics of any changes the client wishes to make in his or her life.
  11. An Index of Supporters (including names and contact information, their relationship to the client, their trustworthiness, and the specific assistance they will be to the client). 
  12. Extreme hardship to the client from continued detention.
  13. Special near-term opportunities or circumstances requirinf release.
  14. Extreme hardship to others from the client’s continued detention.
  15. All the additional mitigation available in Sections 21 and 22 of the client’s Defense Map.

It will always be important for attorneys to spend adequate time with their clients.   The issue is one of (a) making attorney time reasonably effective and (b) giving the defense even a remote approximation of the “balance of forces” guaranteed by the unanimous opinion in Wardius v. Oregon and the other authorities treated in  The Constitutional Case for Incarcerated Persons’ Access to DefenseMap.com.

An almost-universal reaction of attorneys first using DefenseMap.com is astonishment that even in the most thorough of face-to-face interviews clients had failed to share massive amounts of vital information.  This is one of the reasons that we encourage attorneys to obtain Defense Maps even from clients they’ve represented for some time.  See Receiving Defense Maps in All Current and New Cases.

In fact, one of the first attorneys to begin making the website a standing resource in his work (Jeff Kimmell, see KimmellLegal.com) estimates that clients share three- to ten-times as much vital information in Defense Maps as in even careful interviews.  We think this estimate is probably quite accurate.

Significantly, the case for depriving the defense of this tool comes almost entirely from corrections and public officials who have never acquainted themselves with it or the constitutional and public policy reasons for its availability to incarcerated persons.  We respectfully suggest that anyone advocating for denial of this resource to incarcerated persons and their counsel has two burdens.

First, he has the burden of answering the reasons carefully laid out in A Comprehensive Introduction to DefenseMap.com that there is simply no “interview substitute” for Defense Maps—including that Introduction’s treatment of the following. 

  • The accounts of defense attorneys about their eye-opening experiences.
  • The comparison of the Roderick Lewis and D.M. cases. 
  • The breadth and depth of the 850+ questions drawn on.
  • The website’s solutions to Six Hidden Barriers to client sharing.

Second, he has the burden of explaining why the prosecution should have unlimited, and in many cases exclusive, access to dozens of technologies and fields of forensic science while the defense cannot have even this modest resource to uncover hundreds of easily missed data points supporting exoneration of the innocent and fairer treatment of the overcharged. Because this disparity seems at extreme odds with the “balance of forces” guarantee of Wardius v. Oregon and the other authorities treated in  The Constitutional Case for Incarcerated Persons’ Access to DefenseMap.com.

See FAQ #25 for how DefenseMap.com can be easily and safely made available for incarcerated persons.  


Embedded in the site are tracks for 5 different kinds of cases, and clients’ answers will automatically put their cases in the proper track.

  1. New charges.
  2. Appeals, habeas, and postconviction cases.
  3. Efforts at sentence modifications, parole, clemency, etc.
  4. Facing probation or parole revocation.
  5. Expungement or vacatur.

As to tracks b and c, FAQ #25 shows how jails and prisons now have the entirely secure option of Chromebooks programmed to reach only DefenseMap.com.  

Defense Maps can be of particular value in both habeas/postconviction cases (see the Defense Map of David Johnson for an example) and also efforts at sentence modifications, parole, and clemency (see the Defense Map of Abi Jenkins for an example).  

Here is some of what is covered in Defense Maps for habeas/postconviction clients.

  1. The details of their cases and sentences.
  2. The history of appeals and other postconviction filings.  
  3. Their guilt or innocence--and the possibility of insufficiency of evidence or actual innocence.
  4. Their position on the performance of their counsel, the prosecutor, and the judge.
  5. The possibility of untested or uninvestigated evidence.
  6. Their position on 14 possible errors specifically inquired about. 
    1. Mistaken identification.
    2. Bad science.
    3. Police dishonesty or misconduct.
    4. False confession.
    5. Prosecutor misconduct.
    6. Dishonest or mistaken witnesses.
    7. Evidence that should not have been admitted.
    8. Illegally obtained evidence. 
    9. Exclusion of important evidence.
    10. Error in jury instructions.
    11. An unfair judge.
    12. Ineffective assistance of counsel.
    13. An illegal sentence or illegal sentencing procedure.
    14. Anything else leading to an unfair result.

We have developed, tested, and established the safety of two separate ways for jails, prisons, and other secure facilities (hereafter, “secure facilities”) to offer inmate access to DefenseMap.com.  The staff at DefenseMap.com is freely available to explain these and their implementation and to assist secure facilities’ IT departments in checking the security of these options.   

  • Our “tablet version” places a secure version of this resource on inmates’ tablets and blocks access from any computer or device except that inmate’s specific tablet.  Additionally, this system automatically releases all Defense Maps coming from a particular facility to only an agreed safe recipient (such as a public defender office or other agreed trustworthy defender or defense organization)—from which Maps can be forwarded to the appropriate counsel of record.  We think this is the superior of the two ways of implementing this resource as it, among other things, gives inmates constant access to their accounts on this tool and strictly limits access to the particular inmate and the agreed defense office.  
  • Our “Chromebook version” places this resource on Chromebooks programmed to reach only DefenseMap.com.  Already in successful use at the Level I St. Joseph County Jail in South Bend, Indiana, these Chromebooks are allowing inmates to complete their Maps and then automatically place them on their attorneys' accounts for immediate use.   

  The following features prohibit any modification of these laptops allowing access to any other website.  

    1. The need for the simultaneous and coordinated use of the Internet-connected subject Chromebook, a separate Internet-connected computer able to reach the subject enterprise zone controlling that Chromebook, and an unknown telephone and unknown telephone number involved in #4 and #5 below.
    2. The need for the username and email associated with the enterprise account.
    3. The need for the secure password associated with the enterprise account.
    4. Use of the username, email, and password to receive Google’s one-time password to the unknown phone.
    5. The use of that one-time Google password on the subject Chromebook within 30 seconds of its issuance by Google.

Administrators of secure facilities and their IT staff, public defender organizations, and all others interested in implementing either (or both) of these versions can simply use the website’s Helpline to learn how quick, simple, and inexpensive this implementation is.