Going to court

Criminal and Civil Court.

There are two types of courts you can go through with a dog attack- criminal and civil court (or mediation/arbitration).  You may end up going through both, just one, or none at all.  It is advisable to consult with a lawyer to determine if you need compensation for medical bills in the present or down the line.  This would be a civil suit and those options are best discussed with a seasoned attorney. 

Going though the Magisterial District Court.

If you and the authorities have determined the attack was severe enough for the dog to be cited as dangerous, you will go to criminal court at the magisterial district court level.  This would be a summary offence for the dog's owner.  For a dog to be deemed dangerous it has to have caused severe injury to a human unprovoked, killed or severely injured a dog or cat unprovoked, or attacked a human unprovoked.   It helps if there are past incidents where the dog has shown a history or vicious propensity to be aggressive.  Only you, the police, or the dog warden can file these charges.  This is an important reason why it is best to initially contact your dog warden in addition to the police.  As it is the dog wardens who monitor and charge the dangerous dogs and their owners, they're more experienced as a whole in dealing with dangerous dogs.  

If the dog gets deemed dangerous, there will be certain requirements for the dog and the dog's owner.  This includes being registered with the State of Pennsylvania as a Dangerous Dog, having a proper enclosure made for the dog, a sign being posted on the dog owner's property alerting people to the dangerous dog, and being muzzled in public. 

While it's never pleasant to go to court, it may be the right thing to do depending on your situation.  If a dog has done any of the things listed above, it may do it again to someone else, perhaps even more severely. The safety of you, your family, and the community at large needs to be considered. To read more about the criminal court process, see below. 

for court

Be as prepared as possible and have all your evidence ready.

What to expect  
in the courtroom

Some scenarios that may play out, since court is unique for everyone.


After the verdict

What to do after the

court makes its decision. 


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