Public Defender

Erie County Public Defender's Office building

The Public Defender’s Office provides legal representation for those who qualify for services and are in jeopardy of losing their liberty.

The Erie County Public Defender’s Office is responsible for providing legal representation for individuals who financially qualify and are in jeopardy of losing their liberty.

In Erie County, eligibility for appointed counsel is based on the federal poverty guidelines. Income, property interest and the nature of the charges are all considered in determining an applicant’s qualification for legal representation. One must disclose all income and assets. A public defender will be appointed if it is determined that one qualifies for service and is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor; a summary offense for which the Magisterial District Judge has indicated that incarceration may be imposed; contempt of court; or a summary offense that carries a mandatory sentence of incarceration.

In addition, Erie County Public Defender provides representation to individuals facing state or county parole and probation revocations and those subject to commitment proceedings under the Mental Health Procedures Act.

When an applicant qualifies for representation and becomes a client of the Public Defender’s Office, there is no charge for representation. Furthermore, the client will not be charged filing fees for any legal papers filed in the case. The Erie County Public Defender accepts client applications Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. or by mail.

If applying in person, applicants must bring a copy of the criminal charges and verification of income. If applying by mail, applicants must likewise include a copy of the criminal charges and income verification. Note that originals will not be returned, so applicants who apply by mail should send only copies of supporting documents.

Metered parking is located on Sassafras Street in front of the Public Defender’s Office.

Disclaimer

The Erie County Public Defender’s Office provides the information on this website as a service to the Erie County community. Use of this site does not constitute, in any manner, an attorney-client relationship between the Erie County Public Defender and the reader. While the information on this site pertains to legal issues, it is neither intended as legal advice nor is it meant to be a substitute for the particularized advice of your own attorney.

Individuals who are seeking specific legal advice or assistance should contact an attorney, either by applying for a public defender or by retaining counsel. The content of any email sent to the Erie County Public Defender or any of the Assistant Public Defenders at the email address set forth on this website will not create an attorney-client relationship and will not be treated as confidential. Further, transmittal of information from this site or any use of electronic mail is not intended to create or establish an attorney-client relationship between the Erie County Public Defender and anyone else. This publication could include inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein; these changes will be incorporated into new editions to this publication. Further, as decisional and statutory law is constantly changing, use caution when relying upon any law or advice stated within the appellate division newsletters linked herein.