The Office of the Public Defender makes the determination of whether one qualifies for representation by a public defender. You will have to disclose your income and your assets. A public defender will be appointed if it is determined that you do not have the ability to retain your own lawyer. Eligibility is assumed for juvenile delinquency proceedings, and in any case where the person is incarcerated. Each case is evaluated individually. The public defender may decline services if you appear to have the ability to retain your own lawyer.
If you qualify for representation by the public defender there will be no charge to you for their services. Furthermore, there will be no filing fees charged for any legal papers filed in your case.
If you qualify, but it is determined that a conflict of interest exists preventing the Public Defender's Office from serving on a particular case, the County Court appoints and compensates a private attorney from outside the Public Defender's Office to represent you.
You must call (717) 261-3863 to schedule an appointment with our Paralegal to fill out your application for representation by a public defender. Application for representation must be made in person unless otherwise directed by the Paralegal. You will need to bring a copy of the following when applying:
1) your charging papers when applying (generally, a criminal complaint)
2) your last 4 paystubs from your employer
3) your most recent Federal Tax Return
4) your most recent statements for any saving or checking accounts
5) any mortgage on any property you own.
Applications may not be accepted without the proper paperwork at the discretion of the Paralegal. Application must be made five (5) days prior to your preliminary hearing. If applying for representation on a case already scheduled before the Court of Common Pleas, the application must be submitted two (2) Fridays prior to the scheduled court date. This is to ensure we have time to file for a continuance, if necessary.
If you are in jail, you automatically qualify and a public defender will meet with you before your court date.