Magisterial District Court Statistics
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It should be noted that case filings decreased from 2020 through 2022 due to:
- COVID-19 Pandemic:
- Supreme Court and County Emergency Court Orders and Closures for Public Health Concerns
- Moratoriums of the Filing of Landlord-Tenant Cases and Stay of Evictions
- Law Enforcement Shortages
- Mandatory Business Closures
- Social Issues and Unrest Experienced Across the Nation
From Traffic Tickets to Felonies – What 2021 Brought to the Magisterial District Courts
1,248,523 traffic citations filed in Pennsylvania in 2021 (An Average of 3,421 Per Day). For those cases:
- 360,616 Warrants were issued for people who failed to respond to their citations
- 262,838 Warrants were issued for people who failed to pay their traffic fines
Felony and Misdemeanor Cases Filed in the Magisterial District Courts
Not only do Magisterial District Judges preside over traffic, civil, landlord tenant, and other summary level cases; they also serve as the court of initial jurisdiction for all criminal offenses, including serious crimes like homicide, which are first filed and heard in the Magisterial District Courts.
Criminal Cases begin with the issuance of a summons (a notice that is mailed to the person being charged telling them when to appear in court), an arrest warrant, or with the person being directly brought before the court (either in person or virtually) at the time of the incident.
In 2021, Magisterial District Judges issued 52,058 Criminal Arrest Warrants.
Persons arrested with or without a warrant are brought before the Magisterial District Judge for a Preliminary Arraignment where:
- They are informed of the charges against them;
- Notified of the date of their Preliminary Hearing;
- Offered the services of a public defender if they cannot afford an attorney;
- Given an opportunity to make a phone call and to post bail, when appropriate;
- Are either released on bail or incarcerated at the conclusion of the proceeding.
The Preliminary Hearing serves as the gateway to the higher court, the Court of Common Pleas. Following review of the case at the Preliminary Hearing, the case may be dismissed, bound over to the higher court, or voluntarily waived to the higher court by the defendant. When charges are held over or waived, the jurisdiction of the case is turned over to the Court of Common Pleas.
The Courts that never close!
MDJs rotate 24/7 on-call responsibilities to take care of urgent court business after hours, weekends, and holidays:
- Issuing Search Warrants
- Issuing Arrest Warrants
- Preliminary Arraignments for Criminal Arrests
- Setting and Posting of Bail
- Granting/Denying Emergency Protection Orders
- Granting/Denying Elderly Abuse Protective Orders
- Protection Order Violations
- Arrests on Out of State Warrants
In 2021, there were 9,464 Emergency Protection From Abuse Order Petitions filed in Magisterial District Courts with 7,843 being granted.
Philadelphia Municipal Court Statistics
Note: For the Philadelphia Court System, “Civil” statistics consist of Small Claims, Code Enforcement & Landlord-Tenant filings for 2010 through 2016. Beginning in 2017, “Civil” consists only of Small Claims & Code Enforcement filings as Landlord-Tenant cases were tracked seperately.
For more statistical analysis breakdowns (by year, county, docket type, disposition, etc.), please visit the interactive AOPC Dashboard for Magisterial District Court Caseload by clicking here or the AOPC Caseload Statistics Annual Reports by clicking here.