Skip to main content

Can a Prison counselor deny an inmate the right to counsel?

York, PA |

Family member is in county prison awaiting preliminary hearing. He applied for public defender but heard nothing, so he inquired with his counselor, who informed that since his brother & father both applied for one within the last year - he was not permitted to apply for either or. His mother called the counselor & was told the same thing. I called the public defender's office & they said that he could apply - he might get a court-appointed. For this current case (2 mos old) - his brother has a private atty and his father had a private attorney (his case was dismissed at the preliminary). So isn't it against his civil rights to deny him an attorney?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    The prison counselor does not have the ability to deny a defendant a public defender. If he submitted the application the York Public Defender's office will review it and determine if they or conflict counsel will represent him. If he has applied for a public defender and qualifies, the courts will make sure that he has an attorney when he appears in court.


  2. He absolutely has a right to counsel. The typical procedure in York County is for the defendant to complete the application and if a conflict is noted then he will be assigned to a court-appointed attorney. The PD's office (ultimately with judical approval) decides whether a conflict exists, not the prison counselor.

    I would advise you to call the PD's office again and let them know what is going on so they can look into it. They used to have two inmate coordinators stationed at the prison to conduct inmate interviews and process applications. They'll be able to figure things out pretty quickly.


  3. I have never heard of anything like that before but that is a serious problem

    www.LEGALPHILLY.com | DISCLAIMER: Answers are not of fact, but rather the opinion of the attorney answering the questions asked. At no time does this answer create an attorney-client relationship. To the extent that these answers may become available to the general public there is no confidentiality as it pertains to this answer or question. The law changes frequently, and the material on this website is for general information purposes only and neither constitutes nor is intended to be legal advice. Prior to acting based upon this general information you SHOULD seek legal counsel regarding your specific legal matter. The outcome of every case is dependent on the specific facts and legal circumstances of each individual case. This website is not an offer to represent you, which can only be made after a consultation with one of the attorneys from Legalphilly.com. The Lawyer answering this question does not intend to practice in any other jurisdictions where it is not licensed. Attorney is Licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The firm does not seek to represent anyone viewing this website in other jurisdictions, and the website may not comply with the laws and ethical rules of states other than Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If you have any questions please contact my office at 267-265-4553. Lawyer Michael Kotik | www.LegalPhilly.com | 1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 518. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19102


  4. The prison counselor is not the one who determines conflicts that would be handled by the PD's office, he certainly has a right to counsel.

    The above answer is for information only; and does NOT constitute legal advice. This answer does not constitute, nor does it create, an attorney-client relationship between KaplunMarx, PLLC, Theodor Kapun and any receiver. The information provided on these pages is general only, and you should not act upon this information without consulting with a qualified attorney.


  5. If he keeps this up, call the warden and simultaneously write to him explaining the situation. The hire ups in the jail may understand the right to counsel. You should also keep communications with the PD and see if they can assist your family member in drafting a motion to appoint counsel and getting it before the judge.


  6. That's ridiculous. The right to counsel is not like cell phone minutes that can be used up by other members of the family.

    You said he inquired with his counselor. If he already has a lawyer, then his right to a public defender is moot.

    This response is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The response is intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between Mark D. Copoulos, Esquire and any party. The responses provided on this website are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. They are not offered as and do not constitute legal advice or legal opinions. You should not act or rely on any information contained in these responses without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

Criminal defense topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Questions?
An attorney can help.

Post a question and get free legal advice from attorneys.

Ask a Lawyer

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics