Rule 151. Bench Warrant Procedures When Witness is Under Age of 18 Years.
(A) In a court case when a bench warrant for a witness under the age of 18 years is executed, except as provided in this rule, the case is to proceed in accordance with the procedures in Rule 150.
(B) Upon execution of the warrant for a minor witness, the arresting officer immediately shall inform the proper judicial officer and a parent or guardian of the minor witness of the arrest of the minor witness.
(C) Execution of Bench Warrant in County of Issuance
(1) If the judicial officer who issued the bench warrant, or another judicial officer designated by the president judge or by the president judges designee, is not available to conduct the bench warrant hearing without unnecessary delay, the minor witness shall be taken before the on-call judge of the court of common pleas.
(a) The on-call judge shall determine whether to release the witness or to detain the witness pending the bench warrant hearing. If the bench warrant specifically orders detention of the minor witness, the on-call judge shall not release the witness.
(b) If the on-call judge determines the witness must be detained, the witness shall be detained in a detention facility. The on-call judge shall notify the parent or guardian of the minor witness of the detention.
(2) The minor witness shall not be detained without a bench warrant hearing on that bench warrant longer than 24 hours, or the close of the next business day if the 24 hours expires on a non-business day.
(D) Execution of Bench Warrant Outside County of Issuance
(1) The minor witness shall be taken before a common pleas court judge of the county of arrest without unnecessary delay and in no case later than the end of the next business day.
(2) The judge shall identify the minor witness as the subject of the bench warrant, decide whether detention as a minor witness is necessary, and order that arrangements be made immediately to transport the minor witness to the county of issuance.
(3) If transportation cannot be arranged immediately, the minor witness shall be released unless the bench warrant specifically orders detention of the witness. In this case, the minor witness shall be detained in an out-of-county detention facility.
(4) If detention is ordered, the minor witness shall be brought to the county of issuance within 72 hours from the execution of the bench warrant.
(5) If the time requirements of this paragraph are not met, the minor witness shall be released.
This rule was adopted in 2013 to establish the procedures when a witness subject to a bench warrant is under the age of 18. The procedures following the execution of a bench warrant set forth in Rule 150 apply to cases when the witness is under the age of 18, except as otherwise provided in this rule.
Paragraph (B) ensures that the judicial officer who issued the bench warrant is aware that the minor witness has been arrested, and that a parent or guardian of the arrested minor witness is notified of the arrest.
The procedures in paragraph (C) for cases in which the bench warrant is executed in the county of issuance, recognize the need, when the issuing judicial officer is unavailable, to conduct the bench warrant hearing, for the common pleas court judge who is on call to determine whether a minor witness may be released or must be detained. If the minor witness is detained, the bench warrant hearing must be held no later than the end of the next business day. If the bench warrant hearing is not conducted within this time period, the minor witness must be released.
The minor witness may not be detained in an adult facility pending a bench warrant hearing.
In cases in which the bench warrant is executed outside the county of issuance, the minor witness must be transported to the county of issuance within 72 hours of the execution of the bench warrant, and the bench warrant hearing must be conducted by the end of the next business day.
As used in this rule, minor witness means a witness who is under the age of 18 years, and proper judicial officer means the judicial officer who issued the bench warrant, or, another judicial officer designated by the president judge or by the president judges designee.
When a witness under the age of 18 years is to be detained pursuant to Rule 522, the procedures in this rule are applicable.
Adopted October 24, 2013, effective January 1, 2014; Comment revised December 7, 2018, effective April 1, 2019.
Committee Explanatory Reports:
Final Report explaining the October 24, 2013 adoption of new Rule 151 providing procedures for bench warrants when a witness is under the age of 18 published with the Courts Order at 43 Pa.B. 6655 (November 9, 2013).
Final Report explaining the December 7, 2018 Comment revision regarding procedures for the detention of witnesses pursuant to Rule 522 published with the Courts Order at 48 Pa.B. 7749 (December 22, 2018).
The provisions of this Rule 151 adopted October 24, 2013, effective January 1, 2014, 43 Pa.B. 6654; amended December 7, 2018, effective April 1, 2019, 48 Pa.B. 7746. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (369630) to (369631).
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