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The Criminal Complaint and Affidavit of Probable Cause in Pennsylvania

Posted by Michael A. Sklarosky | Mar 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

What are the Criminal Complaint and Affidavit of Probable Cause?

In Pennsylvania, the Criminal Complaint and Affidavit of Probable Cause contain the basis for the criminal charges upon which an individual has been charged.  It contains the criminal offenses the Defendant has been charged with and gives a brief recitation of the facts from the affiant's point of view, apprising the defendant for the basis of the criminal charges that have been filed. 

What is an Affiant?

An affiant is a person who makes and signs a written statement of facts under oath.  In the context of criminal cases in Pennsylvania, the affiant is usually the arresting officer.  In a criminal complaint in Pennsylvania, the affiant's accusations are made under oath and subject to legal penalty.  The affiant must also sign and date the criminal complaint.

What Information does a Criminal Complaint in Pennsylvania Contain?

Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 504 sets of the required contents of a Criminal Complaint, and includes the following:

1.  The name of the affiant.  As stated above, it is usually the arresting officer, but can also be some other law enforcement personnel, including a Water Conservation Officer or a Liquor Control Officer.

2.  The name and address of the defendant, if known.

3.  An accusation of the alleged criminal conduct.  This is known as the Affidavit of Probable Cause and is the most important part of the criminal complaint.  It is a summary of the factual basis from the affiant's point of view and apprises the defendant of the alleged conduct relating to the criminal charges that have been filed.  

4.  The date when the alleged criminal offense(s) occurred.  If the date of the alleged criminal conduct is an essential element then it must be noted with specificity.

5.  The location where the alleged criminal offense(s) occurred.

6.  A statement that the acts committed were a violation of the law.

7.  A request for criminal laboratory services, if required.  For example, for the taking of blood or DNA evidence.

8.  A request for an arrest warrant or the issuance of a summons.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, call Sklarosky Law today at (570) 283-1200 or use our online contact form and tell us about your potential case. Criminal charges can have life altering ramifications. Do not wait, call us today so that we can help ensure that your rights are protected.

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