Municipal Court AppealFebruary 4, 2009
If a client loses in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, they can take a Municipal Court Appeal and demand a jury trial.
In Philadelphia county, if you are charged with only misdemeanors your case is heard in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia. In the MC Court you do not have the option to have a jury trial, but the federal constitution of the United States of America guarantees you a trial by a jury of your peers. Therefore, if you are unhappy with the outcome of your case in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, you can take a Municipal Court Appeal de novo appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia and start over entirely.
When you take your appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, you now have a right to a jury trial, and the constitutional defect of Municipal Court has now been corrected, hence making the Municipal Court constitutional.
Additionally, if you think the judge in the Municipal Court case made a mistake as a matter of law, you can file a writ of certiorari in Common Pleas Court and ask the Common Pleas judge to review the Municipal Court ruling.
However, you cannot withdraw your appeal with the prosecution allowing oyu to withdraw it. I have never seen the DAs office in Philly object to the withdraw of the appeal, but I am sure they would do it if they thought you needed to go to jail.
Also, you should note your sentencing guidelines. In Municipal Court the judges are not trained in the sentencing guidelines and often give sentences far below what someone could look at in Common Pleas Court. Therefore regardless of why you want to appeal, it mayb time to do some damage control and weigh your risk.