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Defense structure, 2017

  • Organization


  • Oversight

    No oversight

Pennsylvania provides counsel to indigent youth through county public defenders.  Visit the National Juvenile Defender Center's Pennsylvania state profile for more details.

Waiver of counsel, 2014

A juvenile who is 14 years or older may waive his or her right to counsel if the waiver is made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily after having a colloquy. The court can assign stand-by counsel if the juvenile waives counsel at any hearing or proceeding. The juvenile can revoke the waiver of counsel at any time.

  • Restrictions on waivers
  • No restrictions
  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2013 legislative sessions.
  • Age

    Under 14

  • Crime

    No restrictions

  • Hearing

    Juveniles cannot waive right to counsel for specified hearings.

  • Placement

    No restrictions

Timing of counsel, 2013

In Pennsylvania, an attorney for a juvenile can be appointed at the following points in the process: Custodial Questioning / Talk with Intake Officer; Detention Hearing / First Court Appearance / Arraignment; Once a Petition is Filed / Hearing on the Petition; Loss of Freedom / Institutionalization / Commitment / Imprisonment; All Stages of Proceedings / All Critical States of Proceedings.

  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2013 legislative sessions.

Indigency requirements, 2013

Indigency determination: Legislatively

In Pennsylvania, juvenile indigency law is governed by juvenile statutes, juvenile court rules, and adult statutes, which provide a determination of indigency. Juveniles are legislatively presumed indigent. Court can / must appoint attorney for juvenile if there is a conflict of interest between the juvenile and the parent.

Collateral consequences, 2014

Under state Juvenile Court Rules, at any time after a petition is filed, the juvenile can tender an admission to some or all of the delinquent acts charged. Before the court can accept an admission, the court must determine that the admission is knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made. Under the rules, if a juvenile is making an admission, a colloquy must be presented in writing, reviewed and completed with the juvenile by an attorney and subsequently submitted to and reviewed by the juvenile court judge.

  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2014 legislative sessions.

Progressive data

The Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Dispositions report annually publishes comprehensive data on the proportion of youth who waive representation and those that retain private attorneys, court appointed attorneys, and public defenders. The report also provides type of representation by county.

Excerpt Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Dispositions report page 6

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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