Rule 509. Use of Summons or Warrant of Arrest in Court Cases.
If a complaint charges an offense that is a court case, the issuing authority with whom it is filed shall:
(1) issue a summons and not a warrant of arrest in cases in which the most serious offense charged is a misdemeanor of the second degree or a misdemeanor of the first degree in cases arising under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802, except as set forth in paragraph (2);
(2) issue a warrant of arrest when:
(a) one or more of the offenses charged is a felony or murder; or
(b) the issuing authority has reasonable grounds for believing that the defendant will not obey a summons; or
(c) the issuing authority has reasonable grounds for believing that the defendant poses a threat of physical harm to any other person or to himself or herself; or
(d) the summons was mailed pursuant to Rule 511(A) and has been returned undelivered; or
(e) the identity of the defendant is unknown; or
(3) issue a summons or a warrant of arrest, within the issuing authoritys discretion, when the offense charged does not fall within any of the categories specified in paragraphs (1) or (2).
This rule provides for the mandatory use of a summons instead of a warrant in court cases except in the special circumstances enumerated in paragraphs (2) and (3).
Before a warrant may be issued pursuant to paragraph (2)(d) when a summons is returned undelivered, the summons must have been served upon the defendant by both first class mail and certified mail, return receipt requested as provided in Rule 511(A), and both the certified mail and the first class mail must have been returned undelivered. Undelivered includes a return receipt that is signed by someone other than the defendant.
Nothing in this rule is intended to preclude a judicial district from utilizing the United States Postal Services return receipt electronic option, or any similar service that electronically provides a return receipt, when using certified mail, return receipt requested.
Pursuant to Rule 511, a return receipt signed by the defendant or a notation on the transcript that the first class mailing was not returned within 20 days is proof that the defendant received notice of the summons for purposes of paragraph (2)(d). See also Rule 543(D)(1).
When a defendant has been released pursuant to Rule 519(B), the issuing authority must issue a summons.
See Rule 1003 (Procedure in Non-Summary Municipal Court Cases), paragraph (C), for the procedures for issuing a summons and a warrant in Philadelphia.
It is expected when a case meets the requirements for the issuance of a summons, the police officer will proceed during the normal business hours of the proper issuing authority except in extraordinary circumstances. See Rule 117 (Coverage: Issuing Warrants; Preliminary Arraignments and Summary Trials; and Setting and Accepting Bail).
The procedure in paragraph (3) allows the issuing authority to exercise discretion in whether to issue a summons or an arrest warrant depending on the circumstances of the particular case. Appropriate factors for issuing a summons rather than an arrest warrant will, of course, vary. Among the factors that may be taken into consideration are the severity of the offense, the continued danger to the victim, the relationship between the defendant and the victim, the known prior criminal history of the defendant, etc. However, in all cases in which the defendant has been released pursuant to Rule 519(B), a summons shall be issued.
Original Rule 108 adopted June 30, 1964, effective January 1, 1965; suspended January 31, 1970, effective May 1, 1970. New Rule 108 adopted January 31, 1970, effective May 1, 1970; renumbered Rule 102 and amended September 18, 1973, effective January 1, 1974; amended December 14, 1979, effective April 1, 1980; Comment revised April 24, 1981, effective July 1, 1981; amended October 22, 1981, effective January 1, 1982; renumbered Rule 109 and amended August 9, 1994, effective January 1, 1995; renumbered Rule 509 and amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001; Comment revised August 24, 2004, effective August 1, 2005; amended June 30, 2005, effective August 1, 2006; amended May 1, 2007, effective September 4, 2007, and May 1, 2007 Order amended May 15, 2007; Comment revised September 18, 2008, effective February 1, 2009.
Committee Explanatory Reports:
Report explaining the August 9, 1994 amendments published at 22 Pa.B. 6 (January 4, 1992); Final Report published with the Courts Order at 24 Pa.B. 4342 (August 27, 1994).
Final Report explaining the March 1, 2000 reorganization and renumbering of the rules published with the Courts Order at 30 Pa.B. 1478 (March 18, 2000).
Final Report explaining the August 24, 2004 Comment revision adding a new second paragraph elaborating on paragraph (2)(c) published with the Courts Order at 34 Pa.B. 5025 (September 11, 2004).
Final Report explaining the June 30, 2005 amendments concerning in which cases a summons or a warrant are issued published with the Courts Order at 35 Pa.B. 3911 (July 16, 2005).
Final Report explaining the May 1, 2007 amendments amending paragraph (2)(d) and the Comment and deleting paragraph (2)(e) published with the Courts Order at 37 Pa.B. 2503 (June 2, 2007).
Final Report explaining the September 18, 2008 revision of the Comment concerning the United States Postal Services return receipt electronic option published with the Courts Order at 38 Pa.B. 5488 (October 4, 2008).
The provisions of this Rule 509 amended August 24, 2004, effective August 1, 2005, 34 Pa.B. 5016; amended June 30, 2005, effective August 1, 2006, 35 Pa.B. 3901; amended May 1, 2007, effective September 4, 2007, 37 Pa.B. 2496; amended September 18, 2008, effective February 1, 2009, 38 Pa.B. 5425. Immediately preceeding text appears at serial pages (328068) and (335935).
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