How to File a Summary Appeal: A Guide for 2023

Did you know that you can contest a summary conviction for minor offenses like traffic violations or violations of local ordinances? Understanding the summary appeal process is crucial for improving your chances of a successful appeal. In this article, we will guide you through this process, providing essential information and outlining how The Shelton Firm can help you navigate the legal system to achieve the best possible outcome.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Summary Appeals and filing a Notice of Appeal requires completing paperwork, submitting fees, and preparing for court.

  • Working with an attorney increases the chances of success in a summary appeal.

  • Successful appeals can lead to reduced charges or avoided license suspensions with lesser penalties.

  • It may be possible to delay your license suspension until your court date

Understanding Summary Appeals

A person filing a summary appeal form in a district court

A summary appeal offers a chance to contest a summary conviction that occurred at the magisterial district court level, whether due to a guilty plea or a guilty disposition. A summary appeal allows your case to be heard afresh in the court of common pleas – a ‘trial de novo’, where a common pleas judge reviews your case without a jury.

This proves particularly valuable in cases involving traffic violations, as it opens a window to avoid license suspension and other repercussions.

Types of Offenses

Summary convictions can originate from violations of a multitude of Pennsylvania laws, ranging from local ordinances in Lancaster County to codes such as:

  • Traffic Tickets

  • Speeding Tickets

  • Non-Traffic Citations

  • Commercial Driving Tickets

These offenses can range from simple traffic violations to More serious suspend-able offenses.

The ramifications of being found guilty in a summary conviction can vary widely based on the type of offense, thus, grasping the specific context of your case becomes pivotal when filing a summary appeal.

How much time do I have to appeal?

Timeliness plays a crucial role while filing a summary appeal. You must submit your appeal within 30 days of the conviction date. If you miss this deadline this can severely affect your ability to appeal.

You can still file a Nunc Pro Tunc petition, which allows for late appeals in certain circumstances. However, if your Nunc Pro Tunc petition is denied, the original district court’s conviction will be reinstated, along with any associated court costs and fees.

Delaying License Suspension Pending Your Summary Appeal

One of the advantages of filing a summary appeal is the possibility of delaying the start of your license suspension until after your summary appeal hearing. This is known as a PennDOT License Suspension Delay. It can be a crucial lifeline, allowing you to continue with your day-to-day activities such as driving to work, school, or other essential activities while you await your hearing.

To obtain a PennDOT License Suspension Delay, you must file the correct paperwork with PennDOT. This includes your Notice of Appeal and other relevant documents. It’s critical to ensure that all paperwork is correctly filled out and submitted to avoid any potential delays or issues.

However, it’s important to note that not all citations are eligible for a delay of suspension. Certain offenses may not qualify for this delay, and it’s always advisable to consult with an attorney to understand your specific circumstances and the best course of action.

Keep in mind that a delay of suspension does not guarantee a successful outcome in your summary appeal. It merely provides a temporary reprieve while you await your hearing. Therefore, it’s essential to prepare thoroughly for your summary appeal hearing to increase your chances of a successful outcome.

How The Shelton Firm can help you with your appeal

A lawyer helping a client to file a summary appeal in a court

While the summary appeal process may appear intimidating, The Shelton Firm lends a helping hand. With experience in handling summary appeals for both traffic and non-traffic offenses, The Shelton Firm can assist with:

  • Filing the appeal

  • Investigating the case

  • Interpreting the law

  • Representing you in court.

Filing the appeal

The Shelton Firm files the appeal completing the necessary paperwork and submitting it to the appropriate court. The preparation process involves a thorough review of your case, understanding the specifics of the conviction, and formulating a strategy for the appeal. The Shelton Firm ensures that all the relevant details are accurately represented in the appeal paperwork, thereby maximizing your chances of a successful outcome.

Investigating and interpreting the law

A strong defense is crucial for a successful summary appeal, and this is where The Shelton Firm’s expertise comes in. They will thoroughly investigate the facts of your case, research the relevant laws, and build a persuasive argument to support your appeal. This process may involve collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and examining legal documents and precedents.

Collaborating with The Shelton Firm ensures your case rests in proficient hands.

Appearing at Court

The summary appeal hearing is your opportunity to present your case in court and potentially reverse the original conviction. The Shelton Firm will be by your side, representing you in court and advocating for the best possible outcome.

Their experienced attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected and that your case is presented in the most favorable light.

The Summary Appeal Process

The summary appeal process begins with filing a Notice of Appeal, which includes submitting the required paperwork and fees to the Clerk of Courts Office. Once your Notice of Appeal is filed, the Court Administrator’s Office will assign a new court date for your summary appeal hearing.

Staying abreast and ready for your hearing date is vital for a compelling presentation of your case.

Filing a Notice of Appeal

To file a Notice of Appeal, you’ll need to complete the appropriate paperwork and submit it to the Clerk of Courts Office, along with any required fees. The specific documents required may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally, you’ll need to include information like:

  • The Issuing Authority Docket Number(s)

  • Citation Number(s)

  • Magisterial District Judge’s name and address

  • Name and address of the Police Officer or Affiant who filed the original charges

Be sure to double-check the requirements for your specific jurisdiction to ensure that your paperwork is complete and accurate.

Click here to download the Summary Appeal Form.

Getting a New Court Date

Once you’ve filed your Notice of Appeal, the Court Administrator’s Office will assign a new court date for your summary appeal hearing. This date is typically scheduled at least 30 days after the filing of your appeal. You’ll be notified of the date and time of your hearing, so make sure to mark your calendar and prepare accordingly.

Late Appeals and Nunc Pro Tunc Petitions

A person paying court costs in a court

If you’ve missed the 30-day window to file your summary appeal, don’t lose all hope. You can still file a late appeal by submitting a Nunc Pro Tunc petition to the court. This petition requires the judge’s permission to proceed and typically involves demonstrating excusable neglect or other valid grounds for the delay.

However, bear in mind that individual or personal circumstances are typically not acknowledged as valid reasons for approving a late appeal.

Costs and Fees Associated with Summary Appeals

A person filing an In Forma Pauperis Petition in a court

Summary appeals involve various costs and fees, including court costs and filing fees. These fees can be quite burdensome and vary from county to county. It is important to note that you must pay the filing fees when you file your summary appeal.

Court costs for summary appeals include filing fees and other expenses associated with the appeal process. These fees can vary depending on the jurisdiction, and it’s essential to consult the court where the petition will be submitted for the precise fees and requirements. Make sure to factor in these costs when preparing for your summary appeal.

Preparing for Your Summary Appeal Hearing

An image showing a person presenting their case during a summary appeal hearing

While approaching your summary appeal hearing, it becomes imperative to compile all the necessary information and engage with an attorney for solidifying your defense. This includes details about the offense, court documents, any relevant evidence, and more. By being well-prepared, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome at your hearing.

Gathering Required Information

When preparing for your summary appeal hearing, it’s essential to gather all the necessary information, such as:

  • The date of conviction

  • The offense committed

  • The court of conviction

  • The case or docket number associated with the conviction

Additionally, you should collect any relevant evidence, witness statements, and other information that could be useful in building your defense.

Don’t forget to bring all required documents to your hearing, including the Notice of Appeal from Summary Conviction form and any other paperwork requested by the court.

Working with an Attorney

Hiring an attorney can significantly improve your chances of a successful summary appeal. An experienced attorney will:

  • Help you navigate the legal process

  • Research the relevant laws

  • Advocate for the best possible outcome in your case

  • Ensure that you don’t make any legal decisions that could be detrimental to your case in the long run.

Collaborating with an attorney instills confidence that your rights are safeguarded and your case is portrayed in the best possible manner.

Potential Outcomes of a Summary Appeal

A lawyer offering a free consultation for a summary appeal

If your summary appeal is successful, you may experience a reduction in charges or avoid license suspension and other consequences. A reduction in charges can lead to lesser penalties, while avoiding license suspension can help minimize the impact of a summary conviction on your life.

Understanding the possible outcomes is critical to decide the optimal strategy for your unique situation.

Reduction in charges

A person attending a summary appeal hearing in a court

A successful summary appeal can result in a reduction in charges, which can lead to a more favorable outcome for the defendant. Reduced charges may lead to lesser penalties, such as smaller fines or shorter periods of incarceration. Understanding the factors that may affect the reduction in charges can help you and your attorney develop a strategic defense for your summary appeal.

Avoid License Suspension and Other Consequences

In addition to the possibility of reduced charges, a successful summary appeal can also help you avoid license suspension and other consequences. License suspension can have a significant impact on your daily life, making it difficult to get to work, school, or other essential activities.

Appealing your summary conviction could potentially help you evade these adverse consequences and lessen the impact on your life.

Click here to read about License Suspension and ways to avoid/correct your suspension.

Further Appeals and Superior Court

If your summary appeal is unsuccessful, you may still have options for further appeals. Depending on the nature of the offense, you may be able to appeal to the Superior or Commonwealth Court. Be sure to consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action for your specific case and to understand the costs and fees associated with further appeals.


In conclusion, understanding the summary appeal process and working with an experienced attorney can significantly improve your chances of contesting a summary conviction. From filing the necessary paperwork to advocating for the best possible outcome in court, The Shelton Firm is here to help you navigate the complexities of the legal system. Remember, your rights are worth fighting for, and a successful summary appeal can make all the difference in your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file a summary appeal in PA?

To file a Summary Appeal in PA, you must do so in the Clerk of Courts office within 30 days of the Magisterial District Judge decision, including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Petitions are required to file after the 30 day period.

What is the purpose of a Summary Appeal?

The purpose of an appeal is for someone who has lost a case in Magisterial District Court or pled guilty to reopen their case. An appeal within 30 days can be requested for ANY REASON.

How much is the summary appeal fee in Lehigh County?

The Summary Appeal Fee in Lehigh County is $67.25, which must be paid via cash, check or money order at the time of filing.

How long does a Summary appeal take in PA?

An appeal can take as little as 1 month and as much as 1 year. It varies greatly depending on the county you are filing your appeal in. A lawyer will have insight into how long the Summary Appeal process will take in your specific county.

Can i delay the suspension of my drivers license pending my summary appeal?

Yes, it is possible to delay the suspension of your driver’s license pending your summary appeal. This is known as a Penndot License Suspension Delay. To obtain this, you would need to file the correct paperwork with Penndot. However, there are multiple citations that are ineligible for a delay of your suspension. It’s advisable to consult with an attorney to help you with this process.

Additional Information

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