Summary Offenses and Jury Trials


I have been accused of a summary offense and I want a jury trial. Do citizens have rights to jury trials in summary offenses?

You are only entitled to a jury trial if you are looking at more than one hundred eighty days in jail. The statutory maximum on a summary offense is ninety days. Therefore, you are not entitled to a jury trial if you are charged with one or two summaries only. However, if you are charged with three or more summary offense you are entitled to a jury trial.

However, we have seen some judges say that because none of the charges carry more than ninety days, you have no right to a jury trial at all. This issue has not been decided by the Pennsylvania Superior or Supreme Courts, so there is no case law that gives us an answer. We think the practice is unconstitutional and something to appeal if it comes up.

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