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Statutes: Pennsylvania

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December 14, 2023

1515. Jurisdiction and venue

(a) Jurisdiction.–Except as otherwise prescribed by general rule adopted pursuant to section 503 (relating to reassignment of matters), magisterial district judges shall, under procedures prescribed by general rule, have jurisdiction of all of the following matters:

(1) Summary offenses, except those arising out of the same episode or transaction involving a delinquent act for which a petition alleging delinquency is filed under Chapter 63 (relating to juvenile matters).

(2) Matters arising under the act of April 6, 1951 (P.L. 69, No. 20),1 known as The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, which are stated therein to be within the jurisdiction of a magisterial district judge.

(3) Civil claims, except claims against a Commonwealth party as defined by section 8501 (relating to definitions), wherein the sum demanded does not exceed $12,000, exclusive of interest and costs, in the following classes of actions:

(i) In assumpsit, except cases of real contract where the title to real estate may be in question.

(ii) In trespass, including all forms of trespass and trespass on the case.

(iii) For fines and penalties by any government agency.

A plaintiff may waive a portion of his claim of more than $12,000 so as to bring the matter within the monetary jurisdiction of a magisterial district judge. Such waiver shall be revoked automatically if the defendant appeals the final order of the magisterial district judge or when the judgment is set aside upon certiorari.

(4) As commissioners to preside at arraignments, fix and accept bail, except for offenses under 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 2502 (relating to murder) and 2503 (relating to voluntary manslaughter) for which the fixing and accepting of bail shall be performed by any judge of any court of common pleas, and to issue warrants and perform duties of a similar nature, including the jurisdiction of a committing magistrate in all criminal proceedings.

(5) Offenses under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance), if the following criteria are met:

(i) The offense is the first offense by the defendant under such provision in this Commonwealth.

(ii) No personal injury (other than to the defendant) resulted from the offense.

(iii) The defendant pleads guilty.

(iv) No property damage in excess of $500 other than to the defendant’s property resulted from the violation.

(v) The defendant is not subject to the provisions of Chapter 63 (relating to juvenile matters).

(vi) The arresting authority shall cause to be transmitted a copy of the charge of any violation of 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802 to the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas within five days after the preliminary arraignment.

In determining that the above criteria are met the magisterial district judge shall rely on the certification of the arresting authority. Certification that the criteria are met need not be in writing. Within ten days after the disposition, the magisterial district judge shall certify the disposition to the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas in writing.

(5.1) Offenses under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3808 (relating to illegally operating a motor vehicle not equipped with ignition interlock).

(6)(i) Offenses under Title 18 (crimes and offenses), Title 30 (fish) and Title 35 (health and safety) which are classified as misdemeanors of the third degree, if the following criteria are met:

(A) The misdemeanor is not the result of a reduced charge.

(B) Any personal injury or property damage is less than $500.

(C) The defendant pleads guilty.

(D) The defendant is not subject to the provisions of Chapter 63.

(ii) Subparagraph (i) shall not apply to any offense under the following provisions of Title 18:

Section 4303 (relating to concealing death of child born out of wedlock).

Section 4321 (relating to willful separation or nonsupport).

Section 5103 (relating to unlawfully listening into deliberations of jury).

(6.1) All offenses under Title 34 (relating to game).

(7) Matters jurisdiction of which is vested in magisterial district judges by any statute.(b) Venue and process.–The venue of a magisterial district judge concerning matters over which jurisdiction is conferred by subsection (a) shall be as prescribed by general rule. The process of the magisterial district judge shall extend beyond the territorial limits of the magisterial district to the extent prescribed by general rule.