Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division – Philadelphia, PA

Oct 26, 2021

A municipal court is a court with restrictive jurisdiction over criminal charges and civil disputes inside its geographic area. These courts can be found at the city or county tier.

Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division INformation

Court: Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division
Address: “Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice 1301 Filbert St, #208, Philadelphia, PA 19107”
Phone: 215-683-7290

City: Philadelphia
County: Philadelphia
State: Pennsylvania

What is the purpose of the Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division?

Municipal Courts are routinely called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” This means that they deal with minor crimes, civil cases, and traffic violations. Courthouses like Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division are the first level of court for these types of cases.

On the other hand, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family matters, injury cases, more serious criminal infractions, or lawsuits.

County courts have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil actions that can not exceed the amount of $15,000.00, while the circuits courts handle felony cases and bigger civil cases.

TYPES OF Legal Matters HEARD IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Municipal courts are the bottom rung of courts in the United States. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some places share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better service their people or to save money on expenditures. The matters that could be heard by a municipal court can change based on on the municipality, but typically include traffic matters, low level criminal charges and code infractions.

You will not find a standard for what establishes a misdemeanor versus a felony, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanor charges and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

How are cases handled in the municipal court in Philadelphia?

Municipal courts are the first tier of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic violations, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are have often been called city courts or town courts. Matters are managed by a magistrate who is usually a lawyer, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council members to assist for a specific period of time.

Magistrates preside over hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for arrest
  • Set bail amounts and conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against defendants by police officers
  • Distribute search warrants to law enforcement officers in order to protect evidence from crime locations
  • Conduct preliminary examinations to understand if there is enough evidence to charge

The usual process of a Municipal Court matter

The process of a municipal court case can be tricky. The following is an overview of the steps involved in a regular municipal court case.

First Step: Issuance of Summons

A summons from the court is sent when a person has been charged with violating a city rule or state law. The citizen who has received the court summons will need to be present at their assigned time and place, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they don’t come, they may be found guilty anyways and could be fined up to $1000 or given a jail term if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Appearance before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to show up after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the individual. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Philadelphia, PA

Penalties change often, which is why it’s best to speak with licensed attorney near you. The material below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division. 

A violation is an offense that has a penalty of $500 or below, while a misdemeanor charge can carry penalties up to $1000 or one year in local jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different offenses in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an offenses. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a license for it then you will be fined up to $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court may be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one place or system. The records that a person might need to depend on the type of case they have before the court, what stage it is at in the process, and what type of information is needed by law to be available.

Common Questions ABOUT the Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division

What is municipal court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the municipal court is a lower court with civil and criminal matters within a town or municipality. Municipal courts will have a small area of influence and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty crimes and misdemeanor charges.

What does the municipal court handle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?

Depending on the area of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. More serious cases/crimes are handled by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division have?

The number of judges depends on the municipality’s size.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Pennsylvania?

A municipal court judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set term of years or until retirement. Judges are sometimes chosen by the people with each precinct’s results judged according to population. Municipal magistrates are often not lawyers but have some legal education and must complete several hours of continuing courses every year to maintain their credentials.