Citation system is
intended to be a relatively efficient, non-intrusive way to handle
Summary (minor criminal) offenses, including violations of Non-Traffic
Statutes punishable by no more than 90 days in jail or a fine
generally not more than $300 (more in some cases), local Ordinance violations, and specified
A Citation, or notice charging a Summary offense, is generally
handed directly to the Defendant by a Law Enforcement Officer
at the time of the offense, and filed within 5 days with the appropriate
Magisterial District Judge. On occasion, the Summary case is initiated
by the filing of a Citation, and then the District Court must
notify defendant by issuing a Summons or, if necessary, an Arrest
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
• I got a Citation... What do I do now?
• What if I am not ready to respond... maybe I'm short of money, or I am not sure how to plead?
• Can I get more information about my fines and costs, or about possible points, before I respond?
• What if I don't think I am Guilty?
• What if I don't have the money?
• Can I make my payment over the phone by credit card?
got a Citation... What
do I do now?
Along with the Citation/Summons, the Defendant receives notice
of their duties: Read the back of your Citation, or face
of your Summons, and follow all instructions there.
Defendant has 10 days to respond to a Citation by notifying the District
Court of their plea Guilty or Not Guilty either
by mail or in person.
Note: If there is no response within
10 days, a Warrant will be issued for the Defendant's arrest;
if a motor vehicle violation, their Driver's License can be suspended
it is possible for a Guilty plea to be filed and paid entirely
by mail. If you file a Not Guilty plea, you will be scheduled
for a trial. Note: If you fail to appear for trial,
the trial may be held in your absence.
if I am not ready to respond... maybe I'm short of money, or I
am not sure how to plead?
Citation/Summons is an order of the Court to which you must respond
within the time specified. Court matters do not "go away."
Rather, if not tended to, they can become increasingly serious
(see information about Warrants.) Even if you think
it is inconvenient, incorrect, or trivial, the obligations given
you with your violation notice remain the same.
I get more information about my fines and costs, or about possible
points, before I respond?
Citation may not include the full fines and costs levied in your
case, especially if it is issued for a Non-Traffic offense. You
can call the District Court for this information, although it
may be a few days after you receive your Citation before it is
issued by PennDOT, not by the District Court. Therefore, it will
be necessary to contact PennDOT
Driver and Vehicle Services for any information about possible
points or to request your driving history.
or not you have all the information you want about possible
consequences, it is required that you to enter your plea of Guilty
or Not Guilty within 10 days from receipt of your Citation/Summons.
What if I don't think I am Guilty?
Anyone charged with an offense is entitled to plead Not Guilty. In a Summary matter, a trial will then be scheduled at the Court where the Citation is filed. At the Summary Trial, the Magisterial District Judge hears testimony presented by both sides (prosecution and defense), and renders a verdict. The prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the defense may present testimony, but is not required to. You can choose to be represented by an attorney, but it is not required. If you do not appear for your trial, you may be found Guilty in your absense. Note: A Guilty verdict in all Summary matters can be appealed within 30 days to the Court of Common Pleas for a new trial (trial de novo.)
You may be required to post collateral before the trial will be scheduled. Your Not Guilty plea plus collateral for the trial can be delivered in person or by mail to the District Court in which the Citation is filed. If you have special financial considerations, you must appear in person to make arrangements. Note: Collateral is not an extra charge. If you are found Not Guilty, it will be refunded to you. If you are found Guilty, it will be applied towards your fines and costs.
What if I don't have the money?
If you plead Guilty, or are found Guilty at trial, and you advise the Court prior to the payment due date that you are unable to make a payment, you can request a hearing before the District Judge to determine your ability to pay (Pa.R.Crim.P. 456.) At that time, a payment plan can be ordered or adjusted, community service can be ordered, or the defendant can be imprisoned for nonpayment ($40 per day.) Note: The outcome of the hearing can be appealed within 30 days to the Court of Common Pleas for a new hearing (hearing de novo.)
If you do not notify the court of your inability to pay before the payment due date, the Court will send a notice giving you 10 days to pay or to request a payment determination hearing. If you do not contact the court in that time period, a Warrant will be issued for your arrest.
I make my payment over the phone by credit card?
The District Court cannot currently accept credit card payment in person. Payments can be made online at http://ujsportal.pacourts.us
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