For Clients and Families

Appointment of Counsel

A person facing criminal charges in federal court is entitled to the assistance of an attorney. If a person cannot afford to hire an attorney, then the court can appoint a lawyer for that person. Under some circumstances, the court can order the person to contribute to the cost of the attorney, or to repay the cost of legal services after the case is over. Attorneys in the Office of the Federal Public Defender cannot provide legal representation to anyone unless the court has approved the appointment of counsel. Legal advice and representation is limited to those matters related to the criminal charge for which an attorney was appointed.

Attorney-Client Privilege & Release of Information to Family/Friends

The Federal Public Defender's office is bound by the attorney-client privilege. This privilege keeps communications between a client and his or her attorney confidential. Normally, the attorney will not share privileged information with others outside the office. The policy underlying this privilege is to encourage open and honest communication between clients and attorneys.

You should not talk to anyone about your case without first discussing the matter with your attorney. You may discuss anything concerning your case with your attorney because these matters are recognized as confidential. This confidential privilege extends only to discussions between you and your attorney and your attorney's staff. Anything you tell your family, friends, and others (such as cellmates), is NOT confidential and the court can compel those people to testify about what you said.

Under the attorney-client privilege, our office is not allowed to discuss particulars of any client's case with his/her family or friends unless the client directs the attorney to do so. If a family member or friend needs court dates, court times, or assigned courtrooms, we may provide that information if authorized by the client.

Clients Released on Bond

It is important that you keep your attorney informed about how to reach you. If you change your address or telephone number, let us know immediately. You must also tell Pretrial Services of any change in address or contact information.

You must never miss a court appearance or arrive late to court. If you have a problem, tell your attorney right away.

Detained Clients

If you are detained before trial, you will be held in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. While your case is pending, you will probably be held at one of the several regional jails operating in this district. (See Local Jails/Prisons list.)

Local Jails/Prisons:

Adams County Adult Correctional Complex
45 Major Bell Lane
Gettysburg, PA 17325
(717) 334-7671

Clinton County Correctional Facility
58 Pine Mtn. Road P.O. Box 419
McElhattan, PA 17748
(570) 769-7680

Columbia County Prison
721 Iron Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
570) 784-4815

Cumberland County Prison
1101 Claremont Road
Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 245-8787

Dauphin County Prison
501 Mall Road
Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 780-6800

Franklin County Jail
1804 Opportunity Avenue
Chambersburg, PA 17201-3091
(717) 264-9513

Lackawanna County Prison
1371 North Washington Avenue
Scranton, PA 18509
(570) 963-6639

Lebanon County Correctional Facility
730 East Walnut Street
Lebanon, PA 17042
(717) 274-5451

Luzerne County Correctional Facility
99 Water Street
Wilkes-Barrre, PA 18702
(570) 829-7750

Lycoming County Prison
277 West Third Street
Williamsport, PA 17701
(570) 326-4623

Monroe County Correctional Facility
4250 Manor Drive
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
(570) 992-3232

Perry County Prison
300 South Carlisle Street POB 520
New Bloomfield, PA 17068
(717) 582-2262

Pike County Correctional Facility
175 Pike County Blvd.
Lords Valley, PA 18428
(570) 775-5500

York County Prison
3400 Concord Road
York, PA 17402
(717) 840-7580

How much time am I going to get?

That is a complex question that depends on whether a defendant is convicted, the type of offense, prior criminal history, and a defendant's unique characteristics.

Sentencing in federal court is controlled by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. Under 18 USC § 3553(a), there are many factors that go into sentencing in federal court, including the nature of the offense, the characteristics of the offender, the need to pay restitution, and access to medical and other treatment.

One factor that the court must consider is the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Calculation of the guidelines can provide one rough estimate of a defendant’s sentence before a plea or trial. The defendant’s attorney will be able to give more details about the defendant’s potential sentence.

I don’t like my court appointed attorney. How do I get a new one?

A defendant has the constitutional right to represent him or herself, to hire the attorney of his/her choice, or to have counsel appointed. There is, however, no right to appointed counsel of one’s choice.

If a client is unhappy with his/her court appointed attorney, the first and obvious step is to discuss this problem with the attorney.

If the defendant and the attorney cannot resolve their differences, the defendant can make a motion in court to seek new counsel. Note, however, that new counsel will only be appointed when there has been a complete breakdown in communications, and when the attorney can no longer effectively represent the defendant. A judge will not appoint new counsel because the defendant is frustrated by the facts of the case, by law that limits any possible defenses or motions, or by a high sentencing exposure.

If I'm convicted, where am I going to serve my time?

The Federal Bureau of Prisons determines where a defendant is going to serve his or her time. There are many, many factors that go into this "designation," including a defendant's prior criminal history, the facts of the present case, his or her immigration status, and family ties to a particular community. Court appointed counsel can give a more detailed description of the factors that will go into a particular defendant's designation.


U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Provides court information and location; case information; and pro se forms

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Provides information related to recently sentenced inmates; how to locate a federal inmate; and visitation policies.