Lancaster County Public Defenders Office

Lancaster County Public Defenders Office

In Pennsylvania, there is a statute requiring all counties except Philadelphia to create and fund a public defender's system. The public defender in Philadelphia is an "association" which is not part of the county or state government. In many states, the public defender is a statewide entity with local " branches" in the governmental subdivisions, such as counties.

In Lancaster County, the County Commissioners appoint a chief public defender, who is full-time. As of January 2011, there are twenty-four (24) assistant public defenders. Twenty-two of them are full-time; two are part-time. The attorneys receive an annual salary. There is a support staff consisting of investigators, paraprofessionals, secretaries and a deputy administrator.

When conflicts of interest prevent the Public Defender's Office from serving on particular cases, the County court appoints private lawyers and compensates them.

In 2010, there were approximately 6,000 cases which the court approved for public defender representation. Public Defender attorneys represent adults in all types of criminal cases before the Magisterial District Judge, the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, the Pennsylvania Appellate Courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Included in that list are summary offenses which involve the possibility of incarceration. The Public Defender's Office also provides representation to juveniles in juvenile delinquency proceedings.  There were approximately 600 juvenile cases in which the juvenile obtained public defender representation.  A smaller proportion of the public defender caseload is comprised of paternity cases and support contempt cases. A substantiallly larger proportion of the caseload is comprised of parole/probation violation proceedings and proceedings arising under the Protection of Abuse Act."

Note: The Public Defender is appointed by the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners.


150 North Queen Street
Suite 210
Lancaster, PA, 17603

Hours of Service: