Research guides

Pennsylvania Criminal Law

Legal Assistance

Librarians and staff at Jenkins Law Library are not able to give legal advice, select or fill out forms, write briefs or memorandum, or conduct any research for individuals who are representing themselves. Because we are not lawyers, we cannot give answers to legal questions. We recommend contacting a lawyer for representation or legal advice.

The following links include lawyer directories, referral services, and organizations that may provide free or low-cost alternatives. These organizations are not affiliated with Jenkins, so please contact them directly with any questions. Not all public interest organizations can assist with criminal matters.

Bar Association Lawyer Referral Services

Lawyer Referral and Information Service - Philadelphia Philadelphia Bar Association
Philadelphia Bar Association lawyer referral service. Contact through online form or call 215.238.6333 Monday through Friday from 9 A.M. until 5 P.M. (EST). Referrals are free, and a half-hour consultation with a lawyer costs $35.

LegalLine P.M. Philadelphia Bar Association
Free hotline for legal advice in English and Spanish at 215.238.6333 on the third Wednesday of every month from 5 P.M. until 8 P.M.
Sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Pennsylvania Lawyer Referral Services Pennsylvania Bar Association
Phone numbers for lawyer referral services, by county.
See also: Frequently Asked Questions for the Public, How a Lawyer Can Help You (PDF pamphlet), and Consumer Legal Information Pamphlets for FAQs on a variety of legal topics.

Lawyer Referral Directory American Bar Association
Searchable directory. Provides phone numbers for state and local bar associations' lawyer referral services.

Legal Organizations - Criminal

American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania ACLU
Addresses issues including criminal justice reform, due process, police practices, prisoners' rights, and more.

Directory of Public Interest Legal Organizations Philadelphia Bar Association
A list of public interest law agencies, programs, and projects that serve Philadelphia's neediest citizens. Also includes contact information for local law school clinics that may provide pro bono assistance. Check with individual organizations to inquire about criminal matters.

Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency PA.gov
Information on PCCD's Office of Criminal Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice, Office of Victims' Services, and Research and Child Advocacy.
See also: Pennsylvania Justice Network.

Pennsylvania Innocence Project
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project provides pro bono investigative and legal assistance to prisoners convicted in Pennsylvania who are actually innocent and whose innocence can be proven by DNA testing or by other newly discovered evidence. Requests for representation must come from the the convicted individual, not a family member or friend.

Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE)
PLSE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit legal aid organization in Philadelphia that works toward just outcomes for low-income individuals who have had contact with the Pennsylvania criminal justice system.
The Expungement Project provides DIY resources and hosts intake clinics.

U.S. Justice Action Network
Acts to "bring together progressive and conservative partners and collaborate with law enforcement, business, civil rights, victims’ rights, and faith-based groups to make our justice system more effective and cost-efficient".

Youth Sentencing & Reentry Program (YSRP)
"The Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) is a resource center for lawyers representing kids in the adult criminal justice system, with the ultimate goal of supporting kids in building a more positive or successful future. There are two primary components to YSRP’s work: aiding attorneys with juvenile clients facing adult charges at the decertification and sentencing stages of criminal trials and supporting incarcerated youth and their families as they plan for reentry into society from prison."

Public Defenders

Defender Association of Philadelphia
"The Defender Association of Philadelphia is a non-profit corporation created in 1934 by a group of Philadelphia lawyers dedicated to the ideal of high-quality legal services for indigent criminal defendants. In 1963, the United States Supreme Court concluded in Gideon v. Wainwright that an individual’s right to legal counsel is an essential part of the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment. The Defender Association assumed the role of the public defender for Philadelphia. The Defender’s commitment to this ideal continues today. Defender attorneys represent more than 60 percent of defendants in adult and juvenile state courts and civil and criminal mental health hearings. Defender attorneys also serve as child advocates for dependent and neglected children."

Federal Public Defender Offices - Pennsylvania

National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA)
"America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel."

Pennsylvania Public Defenders Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network
Provides links to Public Defenders' offices in Pennsylvania counties.