Adult Client Representation & Services

The Defender Association of Philadelphia uses a client-centered approach to achieve fair outcomes for our clients.

With our team of more than 500 attorneys, investigators, mitigators, social workers, and other staff, our practice units provide each client with high-quality representation and service.

The majority of Defender Association cases fall under the Adult Trial Practice Units: Municipal Court, Waivers, and Majors:

  • the Municipal Court Unit handles preliminary hearings, misdemeanors, and some felony trials;
  • the Waivers Unit handles most felony trials that go before a judge;
  • and the Majors Unit represents clients whose cases are decided by a jury.

Department Heads:

    Defenders in the Appeals Unit represent clients in Pennsylvania appellate courts and on occasion, the United States Supreme Court. Appeals attorneys have more than a century of combined practice experience.

    Through the collaborative efforts of our Mental Health Division, hundreds of cases have been monitored for treatment with prosecution eventually withdrawn. Other cases have had non trial dispositions requiring mental health supervision and treatment.

    The unit represents most respondents at involuntary civil mental health commitment hearings and fights for the rights of the mentally ill in its appeals from administrative and trial rulings.

    Department Heads:

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    A highly-skilled team of trial lawyers, investigators, mitigation specialists, and administrative professionals make up the Defender Association Special Defense/Homicide Unit, which provides representation in high-publicity or complex cases as well as felony homicide and death penalty cases.

    Department Heads

    Investigators are key to ensuring that our attorneys have all of the information they need to defend our clients. Our investigators to into the community to speak to witnesses, families, friends and neighbors to ensure our attorneys have the time to focus on building the best possible case.

    Department Heads:

    Erik Frazier 

    Through innovative programs like Early Bail Review – a part of the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge, diversion programs, social services, and other connections, this team of lawyers, social workers, and other staff focus on reducing mass incarceration by supporting clients before trial.


    Department Heads:

    Through collaboration with criminal justice partners, the unit creates, improves, and expands diversionary programs as alternatives to mass incarceration. 

    Attorneys represent clients at county and state detainer hearings and at county and state parole or probation violation hearings before judges and before the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. Defenders also support clients who currently on parole or probation.

    Department Heads

    The Defender’s team of social workers focuses on connecting our clients with supports and services at the front-end of the criminal justice system by developing community-based treatment plans for a quicker identification and focus on underlying challenges. By meeting with clients at the earliest possible point in the case, the Social Services unit supports informed defense advocacy to humanize our clients at every stage of the criminal justice process.

    Follow us: @PhillyDefenders