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Pennsylvania State Constable
East Rochester, Beaver County


Message from the Constable

 
The History of Constables

Early records indicate that King Alfred of England established the first constables in the year 871 AD. The Constable was the highest judge in the military offenses and in questions of chivalry and honor. He was also named by the King to be the supreme arbitrator in tilts, tournaments, and martial displays.

On June 15, 1215 the Magna Carta established judiciaries, constables, sheriffs or bailiffs. The Magna Carta was the institution of due process or the law and jury system.

Constables in Colonial America

The first Constable was appointed in Plymouth Colony in 1632. During that time, the leading official was the Justice of the Peace. The Justice of the Peace, assisted by the Constable, was in charge of the Colony Court, which was both judiciary and legislative. The Constable enforced the orders of colonial and county officials in both civil and criminal matters.

The Constable and the deputies have all the powers and responsibilities of any peace officer in the state. They may make arrests, conduct investigations, and file criminal charges. However, they have additional enforcement responsibility that regular street police officers are not charged with. The Constable and his deputies have the additional responsibility of serving and executing Civil Court orders.

Pennsylvania

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the office of the constable is mandated in the state constitution. All constables in Pennsylvania are elected Officers of the Court, as are all state court officers in the state system. Pennsylvania Constables possess the police power of arrest for any felony or breach of peace on view and is the oldest branch of law enforcement in Pennsylvania, established in 1664. The Constable and Sheriff were the primary law enforcement until municipalities were established. The Office of Constable varies in Townships, Wards, Boroughs and Cities.

The many facets of civil process are the statutory responsibility of Pennsylvania State Constables. The largest volume of civil process involves serving notice to defendants of pending lawsuits, seizure of persons and property in dispute, and enforcement of judgments rendered by Pennsylvania courts.

Duties/Responsibilities

The statutory duties of the office of the Constable are to execute all civil and criminal process recorded throughout the County of Beaver and the State of Pennsylvania. This includes all civil citations, notices, writs, subpoenas, and criminal arrest warrants. The constables receive all summary arrest warrants from the District Magistrate's Office. Duties included enforcing state and borough codes/ordinances and criminal laws except the traffic codes. Constables are also bound to respond to any requests for assistance from the constituents of their election district. Bailiffs for the District Magistrate's Office are provided when courts are in session.

How do Constables Differ from Police Officers?

Constables receive special training in enforcement and collection of judgments. These individuals are the "enforcement arm of the judicial system". A court issues a Writ of Execution after a final judgment has been awarded. Executions require the officer to make demand on the judgment debtor and collect the entire judgments owed or seize non-exempt property to satisfy the judgment amount. Pennsylvania State Constables also serve as the primary enforcement authority of each respective District Magistrate's Court. The duties include court bailiff and serving all summaries and criminal warrants initiated in the District Magistrate's Office. Constables don't write speeding tickets and Police Officers don't collect fines.

 

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