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At a Glance (as of 2013)

Percentage of state funding: 0%
Percentage of local funding: 100%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%
State commission: none
Branch of government: no statewide component


Structure & Funding of Indigent Defense Services

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides no statewide administration or funding of right to counsel services. Its county-based systems remain entirely decentralized with no oversight by state government. In fact, the state’s only statutory requirement is that each county must operate a county public defender office.


In most counties, the local public defender office is a mixture of full time and part time attorneys. In the smallest counties, however, the defender office is a system of one or two attorneys who represent publicly appointed clients purely on a part time basis. And in the city and county of Philadelphia, the nonprofit law firm “the Defender Association of Philadelphia” is not a county agency, but operates as the city’s primary right to counsel service provider under contract with the city.

In all counties, conflict services are handled by private attorneys who accept appointments on an hourly basis or under annual contract, depending on the county.

Statutory Authority

234 PA Code Rule 120 through 122

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff