Job of a Public Defender

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The Office of the Public Defender of Luzerne County was established many years ago. The office is mandated by the Pennsylvania Constitution and the County Code and funded by the county . Since our inception we have continuously provided free legal representation to indigent individuals charged with a crime or otherwise entitled to free legal representation.

Anyone (adult or juvenile) charged in Luzerne County with: 

  1. A misdemeanor or felony offense, or a summary offense where the court may impose incarceration
  2. Contempt for failing to obey a PFA
  3. A probation or parole violation

may apply for our services by appearing personally at the Public Defender’s Office  to schedule an interview. It is extremely important that anyone interested in receiving public defender services make application immediately after their receipt of the charging documents. Criminal complaints, notices of parole violations, contempt notices, and juvenile delinquency petitions contain directions to contact us at 570.825.1754, please use it if you desire our services. We do not automatically represent anyone in these types of cases, each application must be made in person, processed and approved. If we are currently representing someone on one charge and he receives new charges, he must call and apply on those new charges to be assured representation


Qualifying Process

At the office interview we will make an assessment as to whether an applicant qualifies for our services. The qualifying annual income amount is roughly the equivalent of the Federal Poverty Income Guideline threshold, but anyone interested in receiving our services should come in for personal assessment as there are certain extraordinary expenses which may be deductible from the applicant’s gross annual income in the qualification process. If the applicant qualifies, an attorney or staff member  will interview him at that time. Even if the applicant does not qualify financially for our services we can provide valuable information including a list of local private criminal defense attorneys who may be able to help him.

In addition to these criminal cases, the Commonwealth Court has determined that our office is responsible for representing any state parole violator incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Retreat or Dallas. This order applies regardless of his county of sentence or the stage of his parole revocation process. Any Retreat or Dallas inmate desiring our representation at a Revocation Hearing or an appeal of a revocation decision should contact us in writing as soon as possible. We do not represent anyone at a Hearing to determine whether they should be paroled and cannot appeal a decision not to release an inmate on parole.

Representation

When appointed by the Court, we provide representation in state collateral challenges to a conviction in a petition under the Post Conviction Relief Act. We do not provide representation in federal court and cannot represent an individual where an attorney has entered an appearance for an individual and not been granted permission to withdraw by the court.

The Public Defender’s Office also represents  the mentally challenged in Mental Health / Intellectual Disabilities commitment proceedings.

Last Updated: 07/15/14 12:07:18
Public Defender
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