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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 101939
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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In Pennsylvania, can magesterial district courts just papers

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In Pennsylvania, can magesterial district courts just papers to someone's house and consider the papers served? One of my relatives got a summary trial notice in the mail. It came in the mail and it was sent by regular mail. There was also a certified mail notice that was left (of course, that was also from the same court). What's the deal with this? I always thought that magesterial district courts had to use a proxy server to deliver court papers and have it served. If my relative doesn't sign for the papers sent by certified mail, are the papers still considered served or not? Why by mail and not a proxy server?
Hello, my name is Ely. I am here to help you. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice; and (2) my function is to give you honest information and not to tell you what you necessarily wish to hear. There may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies as I type out a thorough reply for you.

I am sorry for your family's situation. In PA, it is not the Court that serves the Defendant, but the Plaintiff. The onus is on the Plaintiff to serve the Defendant, and then the Plaintiff testifies to the Court that the Defendant has been properly served and produces proof. One can be served in three ways:

1) Certified mail, return receipt requested. No proxy is necessary per se if the Defendant is served directly with the certified mail. The return receipt requested then gets filed with the Court as proof.
2) Process server. A private process server serves the Defendant and then files an affidavit of service with the Court.
3) Constable. A constable serves the Defendant and then files an affidavit of service with the Court.

It is the Plaintiff's decision which he wishes to use.

What happened in your case was that the person was served by certified mail, return receipt requested, but the party also sent a REGULAR mail as well, just in case the certified mail was not picked up. This is a common tactic to ensure that even if the Defendant does not pick up certified service, they receive the plain mail and answer, thus confirming that they were served anyhow.

If the Defendant answers from the plain mail, then they are considered served since obviously, they received notice - why else would they be answering.

If the Defendant picks up the certified mail, then they are considered served.

If the Defendant does not answer from the plain mail, or pick up the certified mail, then there is no record of the Defendant receiving the service, and the Plaintiff may have to attempt to reserve.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The case at the magisterial district court is a private criminal complaint filed by a neighbor. My relative said that the envelope did not have the Plaintiff's return address on it. From what it looks like, it looks as if the magisterial court directly mailed the papers to my relative themselves since it had the district court's stamp and return address on it. If they were to not pick up the certified mail piece, reseal the envelope they got with tape, and return it, would the papers be considered served or no?

Hello,

Okay, my apologies. I had assumed that this was a civil matter. If it is, then the above applies.

If this is a criminal matter, then the individual who is requested to show may wish to show up in criminal court regardless of whether or not they were served correctly or else a warrant may be issued for their arrest.

In any case:

If they were to not pick up the certified mail piece, reseal the envelope they got with tape, and return it, would the papers be considered served or no?

The Court would then see that someone has tampered with the mail and then the Judge would make a decision. Very likely, the matter would then be "re-served" again. Or, if the Judge believes that the individual is "playing games," they can issue a warrant for them to be brought before the court. It really depends on the Judge in case like this.

However, again, if this is a criminal matter, the individual may not wish to risk this and simply show up.

IMPORTANT INFO: I hope this finds you well. Please use REPLY button to keep talking, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then SUBMIT, because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects negatively on me as an expert even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Do not worry, you may always ask follow ups free after rating.
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