District Courts vs. Court of Common Pleas

Magisterial District Courts

Most people’s first experience with the court system occurs in the Magisterial District Courts, the first level of judicial authority in Pennsylvania. Magisterial District Judges oversee:

  • Traffic tickets and citations
  • Minor criminal matters
  • Civil complaints up to $12,000
  • Setting bail
  • Preliminary hearings for misdemeanor and felony criminal cases
  • Civil marriage ceremonies

There are 16 Magisterial District Courts located in Chester County.

Court of Common Pleas

The Court of Common Pleas of Chester County is a general jurisdiction trial court located in West Chester, Pa. Court of Common Pleas judges hear a broad spectrum of cases, including:

  • Adult and juvenile criminal prosecutions
  • Lawsuits involving money or property
  • Divorce
  • Custody disputes
  • Child support issues
  • Adoptions
  • Estates