Philadelphia County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Philadelphia County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Philadelphia County.
Arraignments in Philadelphia County
During an arraignment in Philadelphia County, a defendant appears before the court and the judge reads the charges that have been filed against the accused and also informs the defendant of his/her rights. During the arraignment in Philadelphia County, the defendant can choose to plead one of the following 1) Guilty 2) Not Guilty or 3) No Contest. If the defendant enters a plea of Not Guilty, a date for trial is set. In the event of a Guilty or No Contest Plea in Philadelphia County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
Philadelphia County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Philadelphia County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
What is the Burden of Proof?
The term “Burden of Proof” means that the prosecutor is required to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot provide proof of the defendants guilt, then the judge or jury in a trial must find the defendant not guilty. In the United States the principle innocent until proven guilty derives from this that the defendant is assumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Philadelphia County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.
What is Jury Deliberation?
After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.
Who is the prosecutor for Philadelphia County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Philadelphia County criminal cases will either be a representative of Philadelphia County or a representative from Pennsylvania. After reviewing evidence it is the prosecutor’s decision whether to file charges or drop a case. Most prosecutors have the ability to negotiate plea bargains, and determine how the case will be prosecuted.
Mandatory Appearances in Philadelphia County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Philadelphia County, the defendant must appear before the court. In the event of a “Failure to Appear” the judge may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Note: not all criminal hearings are mandatory, in a non-mandatory hearing an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being in court.
The Right to Trial by Jury
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by a jury. This is applicable for when the crime can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail OR a $500 fine, these are known as “Serious Crimes”. The defendant can also waive their right to a speedy and public trial.
Sentencing in Philadelphia County
In Philadelphia County if the defendant is found guilty (by trial or plea), the defendant will be sentenced. This sometimes occurrs immediately after being found guilty, but can also take place at a later date. In most instances, a judge will impose the sentence that is requested by the prosecution, but they also have the descretion to impose a different sentence.
Appealing a guilty verdict
A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all charges.
I need help for my Philadelphia County criminal case
The best place to get information about your criminal case is from an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent you which will assist in your case. For general information about your case the Philadelphia County court clerk is able to provide general information about your specific case (e.g. date/time hearings, mandatory appearance, what will take place and what you will be required to do). The court clerk for Philadelphia County will NOT be able to provide legal advice for your case, only an attorney can provide legal advice. The court clerk can provide legal information (like the information found on this website) about your case but cannot provide advice about what you should do in your legal manner.
Right to an attorney
The US Constitution’s Sixth Amendment ensures the right to an attorney regardless of whether or not you can afford one. In Philadelphia County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Philadelphia County Criminal Court Locations
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas – Clerk of Courts (Criminal)
Address: 1301 Filbert St, #310, Philadelphia PA 19107
Phone: 215-683-7700 (Clerk of Courts) Fax: 215-683-7713
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas – Family Division, Domestic Relations Branch
Address: 34 S 11th St, #16-B, Philadelphia PA 19107
Phone: 215-686-3805 Fax: 215-686-9308
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas – Family Division, Juvenile Branch
Address: 1801 Vine St, Philadelphia PA 19103
Phone: 215 686-4100 Fax: 215-854-0193
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas – Prothonotary (Civil)
Address: Broad and Market Sts, #284, Philadelphia PA 19107
Phone: 215-686-6652 Fax: 215-567-7380
Philadelphia County Orphans’ Court Division
Address: Broad and Market Sts, #415, Philadelphia PA 19107
Phone: 215-686-2219 (Records) Phone: 215-686-2230 (Filings)
Philadelphia Municipal Court – Civil Division
Address: 1339 Chestnut St, #1020, Philadelphia PA 19107
Phone: 215-686-2910 Fax: 215-569-9254
Philadelphia Municipal Court – Criminal Division
Address: 1301 Filbert St, #208, Philadelphia PA 19107
Phone: 215-683-7290 Fax: 215-683-7293
Philadelphia Municipal Court – Traffic Division
Address: 800 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia PA 19123
Phone: 215-686-1645 Fax: 215-686-1641