My clients are often interested in knowing where they can monitor court dates for their case. This comes from two sets of concerns:
- What can other people find out about their case?
- How can they confirm when their next court date without having to call into the courthouse or my office?
The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts runs two websites that allow the public (or you, or your nosy neighbors) to monitor court cases. The first website is for the Magisterial District Court system (the local courts throughout York County). The second covers court activity at the Court of Common Pleas (the county courthouse in downtown York). I'll discuss both below the jump.
MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT COURT DOCKETS (Covering the start of a criminal case)
The Magisterial District Court system is where virtually every criminal case starts. When you receive paperwork in the mail or whether you see a duty judge at the county courthouse after being booked, your first court date is before a magisterial district judge (MDJ) at a local magisterial district court office. These offices are scattered throughout York County. Depending on how old you are, you may know this as the "DJ" office or the "magistrate's" office. The name has changed over the years.
To find your case information online, you need to visit the MDJ website. I set a link below to open in a new window so that you can look at the MDJ website and follow my instructions here to learn how to find a case (such as your case). When you click through, you should be able to flip back and forth between the two windows. The MDJ docket sheet website is located here. Click that link now.
When the MDJ docket sheet page comes up, it shows a search based on a docket number. That's really poor design, since nobody ever really searches by docket number. You want to search by your name, so:
- Click on the "Search Type" box -- it is the one that says "Docket Number".
- Choose "Participant Name". You'll see the rest of the information below change to offer different search options.
- Type in my last name: "Gothie"
- Type in my first name: "Joseph"
- For "County" go allllll the way to the end to select "York". A shortcut is to highlight the county list and type "Y" and it takes you right to "York" which is last county alphabetically out of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania.
- Then click the "Search" button.
- Voila! You see a case listed for me.
- Their site is horrible on my phone, but on a computer, hover the mouse over the little page and magnifying glass icon that appears (for my Windows computer) to the left of my case.
- You should see two options - choose the one that says "docket sheet" and click it.
- Up pops the docket sheet for the case involving my last traffic ticket, received in Carroll Township.
- If you do not see the docket sheet or had trouble finding it, you can look at it here.
- You can see all kinds of information about my case:
- The offense occurred on February 5, 2013.
- It was filed on February 6, 2013.
- I entered a guilty plea on February 14, 2013 (Happy Valentine's Day!).
- My birthday is July 17, 1972. (I'll expect a card from you every year now with twenty bucks in it).
- I lived in York, PA in the 17404 ZIP code at the time of the offense.
- Officer Gary Bonner filed the citation.
- If you go to page 2, you can see that I paid my fine and costs in full and that I paid a little over $100.00 (if you add it all up).
- It does not tell you that Officer Bonner was really nice to me and did not cite me at the actual speed I was driving when I went past the elementary school as I left Dillsburg headed from a hearing with MDJ Thomas to get to a hearing with MDJ Bloss in Springettsbury Township. I was driving way too fast, and he was right to pull me over, and I was glad that he cut me a break. I always remember to take it easy there now, too.
- You can save this page location in your web browser by bookmarking this docket sheet page.
- For a criminal case filing, it will show your first court date (your "preliminary hearing") as well as the date and time. If the date or time changes, the docket sheet will reflect those changes.
- You can use this process to check on your neighbors, your boss, your friends, and famous public figures. Remember though, that with great power comes great responsibility. Don't be too much of a stalker.
- Everyone else can see your case, too, unless your case is expunged following an ARD disposition, but that takes a long time.
COUNTY COURT DOCKET SHEETS
After you attend your preliminary hearing or after we waive the preliminary hearing by appearing at the MDJ office and signing papers, your case is transferred to the Court of Common Pleas that is in downtown York. The docket sheet link for your case at the MDJ level will no longer have useful "new" information for you.
Of course, tracking your case at just one website -- the MDJ website -- would make too much sense, so you have to look at another website to find that information. Court of Common Pleas docket sheets are located here.
The search operates the same way as described above for MDJ docket sheets. Change the search to "Participant Name" and select "York County" and enter the first and last name you are looking for. When you open the correct case, bookmark it for easy future reference.
COMMON MISTAKES USING THESE FORMS
- Search in York County.
- Make sure you did not make a typo when entering your name.
- You can end up with a list of many folks if you share a name with someone ("John Smith" for instance). Use the birthdate on the search results page to make sure you have the right case. You can search using date of birth to narrow things down, too.
- Make sure you read through all pages of the docket sheet -- they are multiple pages, and the first page does not have all your information on it.
- Hispanic and Asian names often cause problems. My advice there is to use the first several letters of the last name. Hyphenated Hispanic names (Lopez-Torrez) are the source of most confusion with Hispanic names. For Asian names, it is usually (1) reversal of the first and last name or (2) misspelling.
- Sometimes, you can't find your name because someone entered your name wrong into the system in the first place. That happens.
If you have any questions about how to make this work, Shelley can help you through it - she's really good at using them. Send her an email and ask for her to send you an email with the direct link to your case at either the MDJ or Court of Common Pleas level. Make sure you tell her which one you need. Click here to send her an email. Remember to remind her that she is awesome.
If you have any questions, you can also call us at the office at (717) 848-8455.