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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 54 Pa.B. 2336 (April 27, 2024).

237 Pa. Code Rule 151. Assignment of Counsel.

Rule 151. Assignment of Counsel.

 All juveniles are presumed indigent. If a juvenile appears at any hearing without counsel, the court shall appoint counsel for the juvenile prior to the commencement of the hearing.


   Although this rule contemplates a presumption of indigency which may be rebutted, the guardian’s income and resources are not to be utilized. There is a inherent risk that the legal protections afforded juveniles could be eroded by making legal representation dependent upon the limited financial resources of their guardians, particularly where guardians have an income just above the poverty guidelines. Additionally, the unwillingness of guardians to expend their resources should not determine the juvenile’s opportunity to have counsel. There is also a risk that the attorneys hired by guardians might rely upon the guardians for decision making in a case rather than upon the juvenile as the law requires. The juvenile is the client.

   Generally pursuant to this rule, the court is to assign counsel in every case in which the juvenile has appeared without counsel. However, the court may give the juvenile a reasonable opportunity to retain a private attorney of the juvenile’s choosing if the juvenile so desires.

   Counsel may be present at an intake conference or participate in the decision to place the juvenile on informal adjustment with the probation office.

   See also 42 Pa.C.S. §  6337 and In re A.M., 766 A.2d 1263 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2001).

   Under Rule 800, the Public Defender Act, 16 P. S. §  9960.1 et seq., was suspended only to the extent that the Public Defender Act conflicts with this rule and that separate counsel is to be appointed to juveniles when there is a conflict of interest. See Pa.R.P.C. Rules 1.7 and 1.9.

   Official Note

   Rule 151 adopted April 1, 2005, effective October 1, 2005. Amended May 16, 2011, effective July 1, 2011.

   Committee Explanatory Reports:

   Final Report explaining the provisions of Rule 151 published with the Court’s Order at 35 Pa.B. 2214 (April 16, 2005).

   Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 151 published with the Court’s Order at 41 Pa.B. 2684 (May 28, 2011).


   The provisions of this Rule 152 amended may 16, 2011, effective July 1, 2011, 41 Pa.B. 2684. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (356675) and (347579).

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