Pennsylvania law allows for private citizens to file Private Criminal Complaints through
its Court system with certain restrictions which are detailed in Title 234 Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure (Pa.R.Crim.P) Rule 420 (Summary Violations), Rules 504 (Contents of Complaint) and Rule 506 (Approval for Private Complaints). The York County District Attorney's Office Detective Bureau reviews all requests for Private Criminal Complaints.
With reference to Summary Violations, a citizen goes directly to the Issuing Authority within the jurisdiction where the incident took place and files a complaint. (This is the local Magisterial District Justice.) The District Attorney's Office does not review a Summary Complaint. A summary offense would include "Disorderly Conduct", "Harassment", and other minor crimes. Citizens are directed to the following web site for guidance in identifying the proper Magisterial District Justice for their Private Criminal Complaint:
York County Magisterial District Justice jurisdictional map:
If you wish to bring felony and/or misdemeanor criminal charges against another individual you must complete the Private Criminal Complaint and District Attorney's Office information form which is required to bring charges in York County. Those forms can be downloaded here:
DOWNLOAD: York County Private Complaint Forms
*******Private Criminal Complaints will NOT be accepted via Email*******
Rule 504 addresses the required contents for the Private Criminal Complaint. This information can be found at the following link:
A Private Criminal Complaint should never be used to address a monetary or other dispute which is properly the subject of a civil action. You must understand that filing criminal charges against another individual is a serious matter which requires that a crime has been committed and that the person(s) accused has committed this crime. There are other legal requirements that will also be addressed by the District Attorney's
Office such as the statue of limitations, proper jurisdiction, etc.
Before you file a Private Criminal Complaint, you must understand there are numerous
laws in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code that address False swearing (18 Pa. CS §4903), Unsworn Falsification (18 Pa. CS §4904) and False Reports to Law Enforcement (18
Pa. CS §4906). Refer to this link for details on these crimes:
In order to avoid being in violation of these and possibly other sections of the Crimes Code, you must be complete, detailed, honest and accurate when describing the facts in the affidavit and in all conversations with detectives. Anyone violating these laws is subject to criminal prosecution.
Prior to writing your criminal complaint we recommend you review the Pennsylvania Crimes Code to determine which section(s) your believe address the actions you are accusing the defendant of committing. The following link will take you to Title 18, Crimes and Offenses:
County Detectives will be available to direct you with identifying which crimes code section(s) may apply.
Rule 506 addresses the approval process for all Private Criminal Complaints. The following link with detail this process.
The York County District Attorney will either approve or disapprove your complaint. Individuals whose complaints have been disapproved have the right to petition the court of common pleas for a review of the decision. You must first seek assistance from police for misdemeanor or felony charges. If you haven't contacted the police department with jurisdiction for the matter (either state or local police) your referral will be denied and referred to police for investigation.
Once you have reviewed these forms and documents you will be in a better position to understand and successfully complete the process. Should you have any questions or concerns please contact the District Attorney's Office Detective Bureau at 717-771-9600.
Once the forms are completed you can either drop them in the mail or come into the District Attorney's Office. All correspondence should be addressed to:
York County District Attorney's Office
45 North George St.
York, PA 17401
Attention: Private Criminal Complaint
Individuals interested in meeting with a County Detective shall arrange for an appointment via the District Attorney's Office receptionist @ 717-771-9600.
Private Criminal Complaints should not be filed in regard to bad checks. Please use the link below for our Bad Check Program: