FAQs

FAQ:

Q: Where is the Conflict Office located?
A: The Conflict Office is located on the ground floor of the York County Administrative Center at 28 East Market Street, York, PA 17401. Directions can be obtained online at https://goo.gl/maps/ujjsWUYPnAxhgxu88.

Q: Where should we park?
A: Parking is not provided by the Conflict Office. There is parking in the East Market Street garage, which is across the Street from the Administrative Center. There is also metered parking throughout the downtown area.

Q: Do you validate parking?
A: No, the Conflict Office does not validate parking; visitors to the Conflict Office are responsible to pay their own parking.

Q: Can my family members call and ask questions for me and discuss my case?
A: No, the Conflict Office will not discuss case information with third parties - anyone other than the client - unless there is signed a release allowing your attorney to speak with specific, listed individuals.

Q: Why doesn’t my attorney return phone calls?
A: Your attorney will return your phone call. Conflict Counsel are frequently out of the office and not able to immediately return phone calls.  Please be patient while your attorney deals with the demands of all of their cases and clients. Your attorney should return your call within the week it was received. If you need immediate assistance, please call 717-771-9220; your attorney’s Paralegal or another staff member will assist you.  

Q: Do you have the number to Adult Probation/Domestic Relations/Clerks Office/Costs and Fines/District Attorney?
A: Adult Probation: 771-9602
Domestic Relations: 771-9605
Clerk of Courts: 771-9612
Costs and Fines: 771-9612
District Attorney: 771-9600

Q: Who is my attorney and when is my next court date?
A: You can find information about your case and attorney from Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System webportal at https://ujsportal.pacourts.us/. Select the appropriate court and enter your information. If you cannot find your case, contact the Conflict Office at 717-771-9220 and a staff member will assist you.

Q: Does the Conflict Office handle Custody/Visitation Rights/Landlord Issues/Employment problems?
A: No, the Conflict Office does not handle those types of cases. You can contact Mid-Penn Legal Services  at 717-848-3605 or the York County Bar Association at 717-854-8755 to find an attorney who does handle those cases.

Q. What is the contact information for York County Juvenile Probation, York County Youth Development Center, York County Children, Youth and Families, and York County MH-IDD?
A: York County Juvenile Probation 717-771-9567
York County Youth Development Center 717-840-7570
York County Children, Youth and Families 717-771-9868
York County MH-IDD 717-771-9618


Q. Who can I talk to if my child is charged with a crime?
A. If your child (under age 18) is charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, and is not currently represented by the Conflict Office you must first contact Juvenile Probation or the Public Defender’s Office. The Conflict Office and the Public Defender’s Office do not represent children charged with truancy, or curfew violations, summary offenses or traffic offenses.

 

The Criminal Process

SUMMARY OF THE CRIMINAL PROCESS

Preliminary arraignment – if arrested and brought to Central Booking

If you have been arrested and brought to Central Booking, you will be brought before the duty Magisterial District Judge (MDJ) via video. The MDJ will ask you questions related to your ties to the area (address, how long have you lived there, what family do you have in the area), employment, and prior criminal history in order to determine what amount of bail to set. This must occur without unnecessary delay. Because of the speed of this proceeding, the Public Defender’s Office will not be able to represent you at this stage.

Preliminary Hearing

After you have been preliminary arraigned by the (duty) MDJ, or after charges have been filed in the mail, a preliminary hearing will be scheduled. This hearing will be held at the MDJ’s office. At this hearing, the Judge will determine whether or not the Commonwealth has established a prima facie case showing that a crime has been committed and that you were involved in the commission of the crime. This is a lower standard than the proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required at trial. Generally, the Defendant does not present any evidence or witnesses because the judge is not permitted to determine which witness is more credible.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge can chose to dismiss all or some of the charges, or bind them over to the Court of Common Pleas. You will also be given notice of the dates of your Formal Arraignment and Pretrial Conference.

Formal Arraignment

The Formal Arraignment is meant for you to receive formal notice of the charges against you, to be advised of important pretrial rights such as the right to request Discovery and to file pretrial motions, and to enter a formal plea to your charges. In York County, the Formal Arraignment, contrary to its name, is handled informally. It takes place (almost) every Friday at 9 am in the Multipurpose Rooms 5009 or 5010. There will not be judge present to preside over it and for that reason, all Defendants enter a NOT GUILTY plea to their charges by signing a form when called up by one of the Assistant District Attorneys or a member of the District Attorney’s Office and you will be handed a copy of the charges against you (“Informations”). If you have applied for a Public Defender prior to your Formal Arraignment date, you will have signed a Waiver of your arraignment during the time of your interview and the form will be submitted for you so that you will NOT need to attend your Arraignment. Your assigned attorney will be sent a copy of the Informations and the Discovery materials. The Public Defender’s Office will automatically file a request for Discovery in ALL cases so you do not need to call your attorney to ask them to do that. The deadline for filing an application for the ARD program and any pretrial motions to suppress evidence are due no later than 30 days from the date of your arraignment.

Pretrial Conference

Pretrial Conferences are held once per month. This is the time you will appear before the Court of Common Pleas Judge to whom your case is assigned. Usually, this is the time to enter into a guilty plea or to list the case for trial. Your assigned Public Defender will send you a letter to confirm your pretrial conference date and time. There are many cases scheduled for each time slot and you must count on being present in court all morning or all afternoon.

Trial

You have the right to a jury trial in every case in which you are charged with an offense that carries more than 6 months imprisonment. Your jury will consist of 12 jurors, who are picked from residents of York County. In order to find you either guilty or not guilty, the jury must agree unanimously on the verdict.

For jury trials, there is a two-week trial term (one week in July) every month during which jury trials are held. You must be available to come in on 1 hour’s notice. For this reason, it is important that you keep your attorney informed of any changes in contact information. Once the case is called in for trial, the case will start with the selection of the jury (Voir Dire), followed immediately by the trial.

If you request to have a trial by judge (bench trial), and the Commonwealth does not oppose such request, then the trial will be scheduled for a specific date and time before the judge assigned to your case.

Sentencing

If you have been found guilty of the charges against you, or if you pled guilty without a negotiated plea agreement, then you will be sentenced. This could take place immediately, or at another date scheduled by the judge after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation report by the Probation Department.

Post-sentence motions and appeal

If you were sentenced without a plea agreement, and you do not agree with the sentence imposed by the judge, your attorney can file a Motion for Reconsideration of Sentence. This must be filed within 10 days from the date you were sentenced.

If you feel you have issues to file an appeal, you must discuss this with your assigned attorney. An appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania must be filed within 30 days from the date of your sentencing. If it is decided that an appeal will be filed in your case, then it will be reassigned to the Appellate Attorney within the Public Defender’s Office. The Appellate Attorney will keep you informed of the status of your case.

If an appeal to the Superior Court is denied, then you should consult with the Appellate Attorney to determine whether or not to file a Petition for Allowance of Appeal, which is a request to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to file an appeal there. The Supreme Court only accepts a small amount of cases to hear on appeal every year.

If you believe you received ineffective assistance of counsel from your trial or appellate attorney, and you believe that you should be entitled to a new trial on that basis, you must file a PCRA (Post-Conviction Relief Act) petition. The Public Defender’s Office will represent in such cases only if appointed by the judge. A PCRA petition must be filed within 1 year from the date your case becomes final, which usually is when your appeal is denied, or when you have been sentenced (if you did not file an appeal).

Juvenile court

The York County Public Defender’s Office represents youth between the ages of 10 and 18 in York County Juvenile Delinquency Court. The youth must be charged with misdemeanor or felony offenses. We do not represent youth charged only with summary offenses and/or traffic citations.

Our office receives referrals from the York County Juvenile Probation Department. In addition, youth and/or their parents/guardians may contact our office and ask about possible representation in York County Juvenile Delinquency Court. There are NO income qualifications for representation in youth.

Raymond Ortwein, Sr. Assistant Public Defender, is the supervising attorney in the Public Defender Office’s Juvenile Unit. Along with Attorney Ortwein, the Juvenile Unit has four (2) attorneys dedicated to representing youth. They are Traci McPate, Esquire and Kristin Bellan, Esquire.

The following websites can provide additional information about juvenile delinquency and school law matters.

Juvenile Defenders Association of Pa. www.jdap.info
Education Law Center www.elc-pa.org
Juvenile Law Center www.jlc.org
National Juvenile Defender Center www.njdc.info

How to Apply

 

Application must be made in person the Public Defender's Office during the hours listed below. If you live more than two hours away or are sick, you may call to apply at 717-771-9217.

All applications must be made at least ONE WEEK prior to the next court date

 


Our office is open to apply during the hours shown below. Due to the Court's schedule, interview blocks may be adjusted or canceled without notice. Please call prior to arriving to confirm an interview block is occurring.

Application Interview Hours

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

8:30 A.M. - 11:30 A.M 8:30 A.M. - 11:30 A.M. 8:30 A.M. - 11:30 A.M 8:30 A.M. - 11:30 A.M 8:30 A.M. - 11:30 A.M.
1:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. 1:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. 1:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. 1:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. No P.M. Interviews

 

In compliance with county policy, the Public Defender's Office will be closed during Holidays.

When coming to apply, please bring with you all paperwork relating to your current case, including: Any proof of income such as paystubs or tax returns, Criminal Complaint, Affidavit, hearing dates, etc. Below is an interview application form. You may bring in a completed form, with your paperwork, or our office will provide one to complete when you arrive.

Interview Application Form

If you are currently in a treatment facility and would like to apply for a Public Defender or you are a counselor at a treatment facility and have a resident that needs to apply for a Public Defender, please CLICK HERE.

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