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The Guide to Pennsylvania Court Records


The Pennsylvania trial court system consists of Courts of Common Pleas, Magisterial District Courts, Philadelphia Municipal Court, and Pittsburgh Municipal Court.
 
Courts of Common Pleas have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but typically only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Magisterial District Courts, Community Courts, Traffic Courts, Philadelphia Municipal Courts and the Pittsburgh Municipal Court have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases.

Find court records by county Find court records by town or zip code Find court resources by category Find court records in other states
Please select a Pennsylvania county below to view directory of all courts with links to court record resources for each court. Find Pennsylvania court pages by Town or Zip Code. Select a court record or online resource category below to view all resources at both the statewide and county level. Go to the court records pages for another state.
 


 
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Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas

Courts of Common Pleas have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and generally handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.

Criminal cases typically heard by Courts of Common Pleas include felonies and lesser-included offenses.

Civil cases heard by Courts of Common Pleas include general civil claims without financial limits. Courts of Common Pleas also handle domestic relations, juvenile matters, adoptions, delayed birth certificates, appeals of some administrative agency decisions and some arbitration reviews.

Each Court of Common Pleas has an Orphans' Court division that handles estates, wills, trusts, guardianships, adoptions, and termination of parental rights. Courts of Common Pleas may have other specialized divisions for certain types of cases, such as Family Court, and a Domestic Relations Section that handles child and spousal support and related issues.

The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas generally exercises jurisdiction over cases beyond the jurisdiction of municipal courts and traffic courts, but also shares jurisdiction over small claims cases.

Pennsylvania Magisterial District Courts

Magisterial District Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by Magisterial District Courts include most summary offenses, most preliminary hearings, certain DUI cases, certain third-degree misdemeanors and some ordinance violations.

Civil cases heard by Magisterial District Courts include certain landlord/tenant cases and some general civil claims subject to financial limits. Magisterial District Courts do not have jurisdiction over civil cases brought by or against the State.

Judges in Magisterial District Courts are referred to as "District Justices" and "Magisterial District Judges," but the jurisdiction of a judge in a Magisterial District Court is the same regardless of their title.

Pennsylvania Philadelphia Municipal Court

Philadelphia Municipal Court exercises limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil, criminal, and traffic cases within the territorial boundaries of the City and County of Philadelphia.

Jurisdiction over criminal cases includes preliminary hearings, most summary offenses, offenses that are punishable by less than five years of incarceration and some motor vehicle offenses.

Philadelphia Municipal Court does not offer jury trials for criminal cases, but a jury trial may be conducted in the Court of Common Pleas if a request for a new trial is granted on appeal.

Jurisdiction over civil cases includes certain landlord-tenant cases, breach of contract or other agreements, some general civil claims for less than $10,000, certain local tax matters involving less than $15,000 and actions to abate certain nuisances. Financial limits on civil jurisdiction are exclusive of interest and costs.

The limited jurisdiction of the Philadelphia Municipal Court is generally shared with the Court of Common Pleas, but the Municipal Court may have exclusive jurisdiction over certain criminal offenses.

Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Municipal Court

The Pittsburgh Municipal Court handles certain types of criminal, housing and traffic cases.

Criminal cases handled by the Pittsburgh Municipal Court include summary offenses, traffic offenses, violations of most city ordinances and all preliminary hearings for all types of criminal cases that occur in Pittsburgh, including private criminal complaints.

The Pittsburgh Municipal Court may also handle cases for Emergency Protection in its Arraignment Court division.

Pennsylvania Court Notes

All appellate courts exercise some original jurisdiction over certain types of trial court cases.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, some administrative agency decisions and any matter of public importance that may be pending in any court.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has original jurisdiction over habeas corpus, mandamus and applications for wiretapping and electronic surveillance.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has original jurisdiction over cases that include habeas corpus, mandamus, some civil actions against state government and state officers, some civil actions by state government, certain insurance cases, and certain statewide election matters.

Pennsylvania has a Court of Judicial Discipline that is a court of record for cases related to the conduct of Pennsylvania judges.

Pennsylvania Problem Solving Courts

Many Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas have specialized "problem solving" court divisions or programs which provide alternative methods of handing certain types of cases. These include adult and juvenile Drug Courts, adult and juvenile Mental Health Courts, Veterans Courts, DUI Courts, and Treatment Courts. They can set up treatment and supervision programs in lieu of incarceration for some non-violent offenders with substance abuse and mental health problems.

Where to find court cases in Pennsylvania

The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in Pennsylvania.
 

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
CivilCourts of Common PleasMagisterial District Courts
General Civil - Unlimited
 Most or all General Civil - Unlimited cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
General Civil - Limited
 Some General Civil - Limited cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 Some General Civil - Limited cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Small Claims
 Some Small Claims cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 Most or all Small Claims cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Civil Equity
 Most or all Civil Equity cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Complex Commercial
 Most or all Complex Commercial cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Foreclosures and Liens
 Some Foreclosures and Liens cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 Some Foreclosures and Liens cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Real Estate Title and Boundary
 Most or all Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Landlord / Tenant
 Some Landlord / Tenant cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 Some Landlord / Tenant cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Ordinance Violations 
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders
 Most or all Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 Some Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Administrative Agency Appeals
 Most or all Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
CriminalCourts of Common PleasMagisterial District Courts
Felony
 Most or all Felony cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Felony Preliminary Hearings
 Some Felony Preliminary Hearings cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 Some Felony Preliminary Hearings cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Misdemeanors
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Ordinance Violations 
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Juvenile
 Most or all Juvenile cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Traffic and Infractions 
 Some Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
Domestic RelationsCourts of Common PleasMagisterial District Courts
Divorce
 Most or all Divorce cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Child Custody and Visitation
 Most or all Child Custody and Visitation cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Child Support
 Most or all Child Support cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Paternity
 Most or all Paternity cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Domestic Violence Protection Order
 Most or all Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 Some Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Magisterial District Courts
JuvenileCourts of Common PleasMagisterial District Courts
Adoptions
 Most or all Adoptions cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Juvenile Delinquency
 Most or all Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Child Abuse and Neglect
 Most or all Child Abuse and Neglect cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Termination of Parental Rights
 Most or all Termination of Parental Rights cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Children in Need of Supervision
 Most or all Children in Need of Supervision cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Mental HealthCourts of Common PleasMagisterial District Courts
Involuntary Commitments
 Most or all Involuntary Commitments cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Other Mental Health Cases
 Most or all Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
ProbateCourts of Common PleasMagisterial District Courts
Wills & Estates
 Most or all Wills & Estates cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Name Changes
 Most or all Name Changes cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Trusts
 Most or all Trusts cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 
Guardianships and Conservatorships
 Most or all Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Courts of Common Pleas
 

Note: Some courts in Pennsylvania are not included in the chart above. Please use the following links for descriptions and types of cases heard:
 
  Philadelphia Municipal Court  Pittsburgh Municipal Court


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