Public Defender

Mission Statement 

The Mission of the Office of the Public Defender is to provide legal representation to defendants by safeguarding fundamental individual rights and to guarantee protection afforded by the United States Constitution.
Fayette County Courthouse
The Public Defender handles only criminal proceedings, which include:
  • Common Pleas Court Trial, from pretrial motions through post-trial motions
  • Criminal extradition proceedings
  • Critical pretrial identification proceedings
  • Juvenile delinquency proceedings
  • PFA contempt hearings
  • Post conviction proceedings at both the trial and appellate levels
  • Preliminary hearings
  • Probation and parole proceedings, including revocation thereof
  • State habeas corpus proceedings
  • Superior Court and Pennsylvania Supreme Court appeals
  • And any other situation where representation is constitutionally required

Right to Counsel 

Every person arrested or accused of an offense in Pennsylvania has the right to the assistance of counsel for his defense. The right to counsel includes the right to representation even if the accused is indigent and cannot afford counsel.

  • Although entitled to free counsel, an indigent defendant does not have the right to defense counsel of his/her choice.
  • In a prosecution for a summary offense, which carries a fine but not a jail sentence an indigent defendant is not entitled to court-appointed counsel. This is true even if a (payment of the fine could result in imprisonment).