The Constable’s Authority ~ THE LAW

The Constable’s authority as a law enforcement officer has been affirmed (and re-affirmed) many times throughout the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Below are examples of the Constable’s authority, and a link to a recent PA Supreme Court decision regarding the writing of citations. The PAFOC extends thanks to the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association for their direction to the Supreme Court Decision.

13 P.S. §:45 (Commonly called Title 13) - Statute

§: 45. Arrest of offenders on view. The policemen and constables of the several boroughs of this commonwealth, in addition to the powers already conferred upon them, shall and may, without warrant and upon view, arrest and commit for hearing any and all persons guilty of a breach of the peace, vagrancy, riotous or disorderly conduct or drunkenness, or may be engaged in the commission of any unlawful act tending to imperil the personal security or endanger the property of the citizens, or violating any ordinances of said borough, for the violation of which a fine or penalty is imposed.

Pennsylvania Code

302 §: 29.10-1. Arrests. Police employed by the Municipality shall be ex officio constables of the Municipality and may within or without the limits of the Municipality without warrant and upon view, arrest and commit for hearing any and all persons guilty of breach of the peace, vagrancy, riotous, or disorderly conduct or drunkenness, or who may be engaged in the commission of any unlawful act tending to imperil the personal security or endanger the property of any citizen or for violating any ordinance of the Municipality for which a fine or penalty is imposed, notwithstanding any statute pertaining to the same or similar offenses. Any person so arrested shall be received for confinement by the keepers of the jails, lockups, or station houses within the county.

302 §: 41.11-1103. Powers. Police officers shall have all the powers, protections and prerogatives now or hereafter conferred upon borough police officers by ordinance or by law, and upon constables of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They shall have the power to make lawful searches, seizures and arrests for violation of any statute or ordinance in force in the Borough, and to do such other acts as may be required of them by statute or ordinance.

311 §: 41.13-1303. Powers and Authority. Police employed by the Borough, including full-time police, special police, special school police, part-time police and auxiliary police, shall have all the powers and protection conferred by statute and ordinance upon members of the Police Force of the Borough and upon constables of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They shall have the power to make lawful searches, seizures and arrests for violation of any statutes or ordinances or other laws enforced by the Borough, to serve subpoenas, when ordered to do so by their superior officers, and to do such other acts as may be required of them by statute or ordinance.

The police shall have the authority to serve and execute all criminal processes for the violation of municipal ordinances which may be issued; and when serving and executing such criminal processes or subpoenas or serving warrants, as a constable of the Borough shall charge the same fees and costs as he would charge, but they shall be collected by the Borough Manager and paid into the Treasury of the Borough. All police officers are required to wear a badge or shield with the Borough of Portage identity.

234 Pa. Code Rule 103. Definitions.

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER is any person who is by law given the power to enforce the law when acting within the scope of that person’s employment.

POLICE OFFICER is any person who is by law given the power to arrest when acting within the scope of the person’s employment.

Pennsylvania Code §: 21.1. Definitions

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER —A sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, deputy constable, detective, police officer of this Commonwealth, or any political subdivision, school district, or municipal authority thereof.

TITLE 3 §: 459-102. Definitions (Dog Law)

POLICE OFFICER is any person employed or elected by this Commonwealth, or by any municipality and whose duty it is to preserve peace or to make arrests or to enforce the law. The term includes constables and dog, game, fish and forest wardens.

PA Supreme Court Decision regarding writing citations 781 A.2d 168 Pa Super. 2001

PA Supreme Court Decision regarding Sheriff’s have same authority to arrest for felonies as CONSTABLES

Commonwealth v. Dobbins

US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals – Constables are considered “state actors” and “law enforcement officers”

Abbott v. Latshaw

Originally published by the PAFOC

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