About Pennsylvania Courts

Pennsylvania is composed of District Justice Courts, County Courts of Common Pleas, Superior and Commonwealth Appeals Courts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals and United States District Courts.

District Justice Court. Local District Justices preside over various criminal and civil matters. Civil matters generally under $8,000.00 in value. Summary traffic offenses to determinations regarding whether a prima facia case exists against a person accused of a crime.

Courts of Common Pleas. A judge will preside over jury and non-jury civil and criminal cases in these courts. Many cases may be placed in an arbitration pool where three lawyers preside over the matter if the value of the case is less than $50,000.00.

Superior and Commonwealth Courts. These courts handle appeals from verdicts and decisions rendered in the Common Pleas courts. The appeals court judges review the transcripts of testimony and exhibits received during the trial and determine whether an error of law was committed. These courts can affirm the verdict of the trial court or remand the case to the trial court and require a new trial.

Pennsylvania District and Appellate Courts. These federal courts preside over cases involving citizens of different states and crimes that violate federal laws and constitutional rights.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This court accepts cases of first impression involving novel legal issues that may require clarification.