The Criminal Court Process

The Municipal Court’s Criminal Division deals with misdemeanor and felony charges for adults with a sentence of up to 5 years of incarceration. The Criminal Division also deals with non-traffic summary charges for adults and juveniles. Learn about each step of the process below.

You can also find the same information by searching for recently filed cases or for upcoming court dates.

Preliminary Arraignment

All adults that are arrested and charged with a felony or misdemeanor have a preliminary arraignment. During a Preliminary Arraignment, the Court Magistrate will tell you about your charges. They will also tell you how much your bail will be and assign a lawyer to represent you. If you attend all your court dates, the bail amount is returned to the person who paid it. Preliminary Arraignments happen 24 hours/7 days per week with video meetings. This courtroom is in the basement of the Stout Center for Criminal Justice.

Early Bail Review

If you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you might be able to have an early bail review (EBR) hearing. Your bail must be less than $250,000. An early bail review means your hearing will be within 5 business days of your preliminary arraignment. If you do not qualify for an EBR, your case will move directly to your Preliminary Hearing or Pretrial Discovery.

If you get an early bail review, your lawyer will interview you. They may also speak with your family members, community contacts, and employers to help prepare for your bail hearing.

If you are released from jail because of your early bail review, it is extremely important that you show up for your scheduled court date. You will get detailed instructions about what you need to do while you are released and when to show up for your next court date.

You may have to report to Pretrial Services if you have electronic monitoring, are confined to house arrest, or direct supervision. You will receive further instructions if you need to report to Pretrial as a condition of release.

Preliminary Hearing

If you were charged with a felony, you will have a preliminary hearing. During a Preliminary Hearing, the judge decides if there is enough evidence against you to move forward with a trial. If the judge moves the case forward, your trial will go to Common Pleas Court. If the judge decides that there is not enough evidence to move your case forward, your case may be dismissed. Felony charges may also be dismissed and any remaining misdemeanor charges will stay in Municipal Court for trial.

Pretrial Discovery Hearing

At the Pretrial Discovery Hearing, the District Attorney’s Office gives your lawyer the evidence they plan to use during trial. Evidence can include documents, witnesses, and other pieces of evidence. At a Pretrial Discovery Hearing, a trial date will be scheduled.


During a trial, both sides show evidence to the judge. The judge will decide if you are guilty or not guilty. If you are guilty, your sentence could be court costs, community service, probation, jail time, or nothing. Misdemeanor cases will have a trial without a jury. Felony cases do not have trials in Municipal Court and will be moved to the Common Pleas Court.

Post-Trial Motion Hearing

Post-Trial Motion Hearings happen after you are found guilty. Examples of post-trial motions include Violation of Probation and Deferred Sentencing. Probation has specific rules that you must follow. A Violation of Probation means you broke a rule of probation. Your probation might be changed so that it is has more requirements. Deferred Sentencing is a delay because there is additional information needed to decide your sentence.

Expunging Your Case

If you were found not guilty or if your case was withdrawn or dismissed, you can erase the case from court records. This is called expungement. You or your lawyer can submit an expungement petition.

Limiting Access to Your Case

If you were found not guilty or if your case was withdrawn or dismissed, you can limit the access to the charge or the case from court records. Limited Access blocks out charges or case information from public view.

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


Business Hours

  • Monday-Friday: 9am - 5pm
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed
  • Bail Acceptance: Open 24 Hours

Criminal Division Information