PhILS banner
Agency level banner

Municipal Court

[Record group 25]
Agency Function
Municipal Court's major judicial areas include:
  • Jurisdiction in trying adult criminal cases carrying a maximum sentence of five years.
  • Conducting preliminary hearings in adult criminal matters.
  • Concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Common Pleas in small claims cases involving $10,000 or less.
  • Landlord and tenant matters and rental values of any amount under the Landlord and Tenant Act.
  • Code enforcement cases which include up to $15,000 in real estate and school tax cases.
  • Commissioners to preside at arraignments, fix and accept bail, issue warrants, and perform duties of a similar/related nature.

In administering justice, both the Common Pleas and Municipal Courts use the assistance of other offices and agencies in Philadelphia. These include, notably, the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, District Attorney, Defenders' Association, Jury Selection Commission, Prothonotary, Register of Wills, Sheriff and the Youth Study Center.

Judges of the Municipal Court serve 6 year terms. Voters of the City elect the judges at large for their initial term. For every subsequent term, judges campaign for re-election on a "Retention Ballot."

Agency History
Established under the title of Municipal Court by an Act of 12 July 1913 with exclusive jurisdiction in Philadelphia in regard to matters of desertion, support, and dependent, delinquent, and neglected children, and a limited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. The Clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions and the Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas were designated the court's clerks in criminal and civil matters respectively. The court's title was changed to County Court by an Act of 1961 but its jurisdiction, powers and duties remained unchanged. Under the 1968 constitutional amendments, the judges of the County Court became judges of the Family Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas. A new Municipal Court was created from the old magistrates system. Since 1968, the jurisdiction of the Municipal Court has expanded to include the areas listed above under Agency Function.

Archival Records
25.1 County Court, Municipal Court. Annual Reports (1914-1968)

25.2 Abstinence Pledges (1918-1929, 1940-1948)

25.3 House of Detention for Children (1936-1951)

25.4 Youth Study Center. Files (1949-1954)

25.5 Youth Study Center. Annual and Progress Reports (1952-1968, 1974-1977)

25.6 Published Reports & Publications (1956)

Current Records

Click on a folder or file to return to that level...
PhILS Home
City Agencies
Current Agency Information Sheet. (Text-only version of this page)

Send your comments to
Last updated on November 8, 2000