Municipal Court - Criminal Division

The Philadelphia Municipal Court was established through a 1968 amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Municipal Court is a court of limited jurisdiction with 27 law-trained, full-commissioned judges. The Philadelphia Municipal Court is responsible for conducting preliminary arraignments, preliminary hearings and most trials for adults arrested and charged with a criminal offense which carries a sentence of five years or less. Preliminary arraignments are conducted 24 hours daily, 365 days per year. Misdemeanor cases within the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia Municipal Court are scheduled from the preliminary arraignment for pretrial discovery within 30 days, or to a designated diversion program. In accordance with Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, felony cases are scheduled for preliminary hearing before a Municipal Court Judge within 14 - 21 days from the bail arraignment. Upon hearing evidence presented by the District Attorney's Office, Municipal Court Judges may forward the case to Common Pleas Court for trial, remand the case to Municipal Court for trial on misdemeanor charges or dismiss the case.

The Philadelphia Municipal Court continues its active participation in reform initiatives, focusing on enhancing fair and efficient access to justice for the public we serve. Numerous diversion programs and restorative justice initiatives managed in Municipal Court are highlighted in this section. Philadelphia Municipal Court has a successful track record for being visionary in its approach to criminal justice. We continue to collaborate extensively with criminal justice partners to bring about positive change in the criminal justice system.

MUNICIPAL COURT CRIMINAL COURTROOMS ARE LOCATED IN THE STOUT CENTER FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND IN SEVERAL POLICE DISTRICTS THROUGHOUT THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA.

Municipal Court - Criminal Division
Supervising Judge
Honorable Frank T. Brady
City Hall
Room 440
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: (215) 686-7036
FAX: (215) 686-9503

Deputy Court Administrator, Municipal Court - Criminal Division
Kathleen Rapone
The Stout Center for Criminal Justice
Room 208
1301 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: Phone 215 683-7290
FAX: FAX 215 683-7293

The criminal listings unit assists in providing access to justice through effective management of trial, preliminary hearing, hybrid and diversion program calendars. Through frequent contact with arraignment court staff, the judiciary, courtroom operations and attorneys, the department monitors calendars to ensure timely scheduling of cases. By approval of the President Judge, the department works closely with FJD and external criminal justice partners in the development and implementation of new initiatives to enhance case flow management.

Rita Crumlish, Director
The Stout Center for Criminal Justice
Room 206
1301 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: 215 683-7275

Jennifer Cantoral, Deputy Director
The Stout Center for Criminal Justice
Room 206
1301 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: 215 683-7297

The Criminal Coding unit is responsible for processing non-traffic summary citations issued in the City of Philadelphia. Summary offenses include but are not limited to retail theft, underage drinking and criminal trespass. Department clerks update hearing results to dockets; monitor courtroom calendars and answer inquiries from the public. Staff also work closely with the District Attorney's Office to ensure timely notification of summary trial dates to appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Erin Renzi - Supervisor
The Stout Center for Criminal Justice
Room 206
1301 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: 215 683-7287

The chief of courtroom operations performs a variety of duties that includes staff management, preparation of reports and acting as a liaison for the court on various projects. The primary focus of this office is to provide well-trained general tipstaffs to manage operations in criminal and civil division courtrooms. General tipstaffs announce the opening of court, swear in witnesses and perform various other duties to effectively facilitate courtroom proceedings.

William Wichert, Chief, Courtroom Operations
The Stout Center for Criminal Justice
Room 401
1301 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: 215 683-7272

Municipal Court operates a 24 hour/7 day per week Preliminary Arraignment Courtroom. All adults arrested and charged with a felony or misdemeanor appear before a Bail Commissioner for a formal bail arraignment proceeding. The principal goal of bail is to insure a defendants appearance in court, while taking into account the safety of the community.

Philadelphia conducts video arraignments throughout the City using state-of-the-art videoconferencing technology. The hub of this operation, the courtroom, is located in the basement of the Stout Center for Criminal Justice. Remote sites are located at the Police Administration Building and police districts geographically located within the city.

The Stout Center for Criminal Justice
Room B-08
1301 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: (215) 683-7283

The Philadelphia Treatment Court, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, represents the latest initiative in addressing the drug-involvement of the criminal justice population. It is premised on the notion that the courts need to deal with some of the root cases of criminal activity. The Treatment Court is designed as an alternative to and/or supplement to normal case processing to provide treatment to substance abusing defendants. The Treatment Court incorporates the dual aim of reducing a defendant's involvement in crime and their return to the criminal caseload and of increasing the chances that they can function more productively as citizens.

The Treatment Court model represents a new treatment structure which draws on a network of treatment services to respond to the clinically determined needs of participants and features a new and central role for the Treatment Court judge. This court serves as a hub for delivery of treatment and other supportive services to more fully address the range of treatment, health, housing, literacy, educational, and other social service needs presented by drug-involved defendants.

Matthew Schmonsees, Treatment Court Coordinator
714 Market Street, Room B610
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Telephone: (215) 683-3788
Fax: (215) 683-3792

This department processes private citizen's complaints when a crime is alleged without a police arrest. A vast majority of private criminal complaints involve disputes between family members or neighbors. Common misdemeanor cases involve simple assault, terroristic threats, bad checks and theft by deception. Individuals must file the complaint with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office located on the 4th floor of 1425 Arch St.. Cases are listed before a trial commissioner in the Stout Center for Criminal Justice where many are referred to the Dispute Resolution Unit for Arbitration. Cases that are not resolved at the Private Criminal Complaint level will be given a Municipal Court Criminal Division number and have a hearing before a Municipal Court Judge.

Individuals charged with a non-traffic summary offense are initially scheduled to appear for a status hearing in Municipal Court, where a trial commissioner explains options for case disposition. Staff assigned to this unit assist with case management of non-traffic summary matters

Rita Crumlish, Director
The Stout Center for Criminal Justice
Room 408
1301 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: (215) 683-7275

Early Bail Review (EBR), one of the first major initiatives in the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge, remains a successful cornerstone of pretrial reform efforts in Municipal Court. Individuals who are in jail on bail of $50,000 or less and charged with non-violent misdemeanor or felony charges (with no other holding matters) are added to an early bail review list and scheduled for a hearing within five business days of the preliminary arraignment. Prior to their hearing, defendants are interviewed by the Public Defender, who communicate with family members, community contacts, and employers in preparation for the hearing. Private Counsel also arrange bail related interviews with their clients

Those released from custody are provided detailed instructions from the judge, the assistant district attorney, the public defender and the pretrial service representative to ensure that they satisfy the conditions of their release and appear for the next court date.

As needed, defendants are instructed to report to Pretrial Services within two business days of the hearing and are connected with appropriate services.

The Accelerated Misdemeanor Program (AMP) is an alternative to traditional prosecution methods that diverts offenders with low level misdemeanor arrests. AMP hearings are scheduled to district courtroom locations throughout the City. The cases are heard and disposed expeditiously with sentencing options of community service to be completed in the neighborhood where the crime occurred. The expansion of this program (AMP 2) has resulted in increased sentencing options including guilty pleas, Section 17 and Section 18 adjudications. Alternative sentencing also addresses underlying behavior issues through court-ordered social service assessment and treatment.

The AMP unit has a community service representative in the courtroom to provide direction to offenders on completing their service hours, along with a list of court approved sites and contact information to report compliance. To assist with this community service task, the Court has partnered with over 134 organizations within the City including Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. The AMP staff work closely with these organizations to track offender progress and report updates to the AMP assigned District Attorney and Public Defender.

The Domestic Violence Diversion Program commenced operations in 2014 as a collaborative, two-tiered program to address anger management, underlying substance abuse and mental health related issues. Batterers' Intervention Treatment is provided at various partner agencies, including Menergy, Men's Resource Center and Joseph J. Peters Institute (JJPI). In the courtroom, case managers assist clients with direct linkages to social services, such as, education, housing, clothing, employment, etc., to support holistic care.

The "Project Dawn" initiative is for women who are on bail or in custody on detainers or open prostitution cases. Municipal Court continues to work with the Commonwealth and Defender Association to address prostitution cases through a restorative approach by focusing on treatment, housing and ancillary services. The project also includes a component of therapy for survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Project Dawn operates with the dual goals of: 1) decreasing the number of non-violent offenders in Philadelphia county jails and 2) reducing recidivism for this population of women.

Project Dawn strives to provide holistic and evidence based treatment options to its participants, supporting them through their recovery journeys by addressing mental health, substance abuse and significant trauma histories. Project Dawn has also partnered Joseph J. Peters Institute (JJPI) to work with women in transition from abuse, addiction or incarceration in the early part of recovery and re-entry into society.

The Choice is Yours (TCY) is an innovative alternative to incarceration program that diverts non-violent felony drug offenders away from prison and toward positive social services and support. TCY strives to reduce recidivism rates and address the problem of prison overcrowding without compromising public safety. In partnership with Jewish Employment and Vocational Services (JEVS), TCY's goals are to: (1) reduce the likelihood of recidivism among TCY participants; (2) reduce state and city costs by cutting the number of trials among the TCY target population; (3) reduce costs associated with pre-trial and post-trial incarceration; and (4) provide participants with the skills and training necessary to become productive, employable individuals without the stigma of a criminal conviction.

The TCY program primarily targets first-time felony drug offenders charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID). The District Attorney's Office has sole discretion in approving or rejecting a defendant's participation in TCY. Participants engage in a variety of activities, including: job readiness training (resume preparation, networking skills, interviewing and job search), computer classes, education and skills training (GED, college and technical classes), community service, job placement and advancement, mentoring from community members, and regular check-ins (progress listings) with the TCY judge.

Recognizing its success, additional funding was secured through the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge enabling additional participants the opportunity to enroll in the program.

Many of the mental health challenges brought before the Municipal Court have been centralized and streamlined. Operationally, the ability to centralize mental health cases for criminal defendants has proven beneficial in dealing with questions of competency and coordinating orders for mental health evaluations. At subsequent status hearings, the judge monitors defendants returned to the community. Through the collaborative efforts of the District Attorney and defense counsel, hundreds of cases have been monitored for treatment with prosecution eventually withdrawn. Other cases have had non-trial dispositions requiring mental health supervision and treatment. Access to case managers and social workers supported clients in community placements.

As part of the MacArthur Safety & Justice Challenge, the Detainer Alternative Program (DAP) was created to provide the Philadelphia Adult Probation & Parole Department (APPD) with an alternative to incarceration for individuals who fail to comply with specific terms of their probation, generally involving substance abuse and treatment. Rather than being detained in county custody, DAP provides individuals with an opportunity to address the underlying issues which placed them in jeopardy of committing a technical probation violation. Case managers and probation officers are assigned to ensure compliance with treatment while on probation.

The Emergency Protection from Abuse (EPFA) unit operates during non-traditional hours for emergency petitions only. The unit is staffed by law-trained masters who, in accordance with the Protection from Abuse Act, conduct ex-parte hearings and review facts to determine if a petition should be granted. The current complement of staff includes one supervisory master, ten per diem masters and ten clerical assistants (on rotating shifts). An average of 2,000 emergency protection from abuse petitions are approved annually, and referrals for victim services and emergency sites are provided to non-qualifying petitioners. The EPFA unit is available to petitioners when many other service agencies are closed and maintains a close collaborative working relationship with the Family Court Division.

For general Court information, contact (215) 686-7000.

Contact

Business Hours

  • Monday-Friday: 9am to 5pm
  • Bail Acceptance: Open 24 Hours