Defense structure, 2017

  • Organization

    Localized

  • 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

While 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, this data is also available in an online data analysis tool, which allows users to complete their own analyses.  The Pennsylvania Juvenile Delinquency Data Analysis Tool allows users the ability to analyze defense data along with other juvenile court data by age, race, gender, county, legal status, disposition, and placement type. 

Year of Disposition by Legal Representation

Count Court appointed Public defender Private Waived No attorney present No entry Total

2005

4,815

18,464

3,969

1,953

0

17,007

46,208

2006

4,972

18,486

3,680

1,874

1

15,585

44,598

2007

5,378

19,633

3,224

1,296

1

15,609

45,141

2008

5,527

19,714

3,177

361

15

15,034

43,828

2009

4,886

18,500

3,040

225

51

14,392

41,094

2010

3,589

16,329

2,446

100

45

14,262

36,771

2011

2,645

15,464

2,030

41

20

12,865

33,065

2012

3,534

13,018

1,990

17

21

12,742

31,322

2013

2,977

12,422

1,688

6

7

11,851

28,951

Total

38,323

152,030

25,244

5,873

161

129,347

350,978

Pennsylvania Juvenile Delinquency Data Analysis Tool. Developed for the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges' Commission by the National Center for Juvenile Justice, Pittsburgh, Pa.

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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