IN RE: ORDER AMENDING RULES THE PENNSYLVANIA RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
NOW, this 9th day of November, 2017, upon
the recommendation of the Criminal Procedural Rules
Committee; the proposal having been published before adoption
at 47 Pa.B. 182 (January 14, 2017), and a Final
Report to be published with this ORDER:
IS ORDERED pursuant to Article V, Section 10 of the
Constitution of Pennsylvania that the amendment to
Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure 203 and 513 are
adopted, in the attached form.
ORDER shall be processed in accordance with
Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(b), and shall be effective January 1, 2018.
to the rules are shown in bold and are underlined.
from the rules are shown in bold and brackets.
203. REQUIREMENTS FOR ISSUANCE.
the discretion of the issuing authority, advanced
communication technology may be used to submit a search
warrant application and affidavit(s) and to issue a search
search warrant shall issue but upon probable cause supported
by one or more affidavits sworn to before the issuing
authority in person or using advanced communication
technology. The issuing authority, in determining whether
probable cause has been established, may not consider any
evidence outside the affidavits.
Immediately prior to submitting a search warrant application
and affidavit to an issuing authority using advanced
communication technology, the affiant must personally
communicate with the issuing authority in person, by
telephone, or by any device which [, at a minimum, ]
allows for simultaneous audio-visual communication. During
the communication, the issuing authority shall verify the
identity of the affiant, and orally administer an oath to the
affiant. In any telephonic communication, if the issuing
authority has a concern regarding the identity of the
affiant, the issuing authority may require the affiant to
communicate by a device allowing for two-way simultaneous
audio-visual communication or may require the affiant to
appear in person.
any hearing on a motion for the return or suppression of
evidence, or for suppression of the fruits of evidence,
obtained pursuant to a search warrant, no evidence shall be
admissible to establish probable cause other than the
affidavits provided for in paragraph (B).
search warrant shall authorize a nighttime search unless the
affidavits show reasonable cause for such nighttime search.
search warrant may be issued in anticipation of a prospective
event as long as the warrant is based upon an affidavit
showing probable cause that at some future time, but not
currently, certain evidence of a crime will be located at a
When a search warrant is issued, the issuing authority shall
provide the original search warrant to the affiant and the
issuing authority shall retain a contemporaneously prepared
COMMENT: Paragraph (A) recognizes that an issuing authority
either may issue a search warrant using advanced
communication technology or order that the law enforcement
officer appear in person to apply for a search warrant.
Paragraph (B) does not preclude oral testimony before the
issuing authority, but it requires that such testimony be
reduced to an affidavit prior to issuance of a warrant. All
affidavits in support of an application for a search warrant
must be sworn to before the issuing authority prior to the
issuance of the warrant. "Sworn" includes
"affirmed." See Rule 103. The language
"sworn to before the issuing authority"
contemplates, when advanced communication technology is used,
that the affiant would not be in the physical presence of the
issuing authority. See paragraph (C).
Paragraph (D) changes the procedure discussed in
Commonwealth v. Crawley, [209 Pa. Super. 70');">209 Pa. Super. 70, ] 223
A.2d 885 (Pa. Super. 1966), aff'd per curiam
[432 Pa. 627');">432 Pa. 627, ] 247 A.2d 226 (Pa. 1968). See Commonwealth
v. Milliken, [450 Pa. 310');">450 Pa. 310, ] 300 A.2d 78 (Pa. 1973).
The requirement in paragraph (E) of a showing of reasonable
cause for a nighttime search highlights the traditional
doctrine that nighttime intrusion into a citizen's
privacy requires greater justification than an intrusion
during normal business hours.
An affiant seeking the issuance of a search warrant, when
permitted by the issuing authority, may use advanced
communication technology as defined in Rule 103.
When advanced communication technology is used, the issuing
authority is required by this rule to (1) determine that the
evidence contained in the affidavit(s) establishes probable
cause, and (2) verify the identity of the affiant.
[The "visual" requirement in paragraph (C)
must allow, at a minimum, the issuing authority to see the
affiant at the time the oath is administered and the
Verification methods include, but are not limited to, a
''call back'' system, in which the issuing
authority would call the law enforcement agency or
police department that the affiant indicates is the entity
seeking the warrant; a ''signature
comparison'' system whereby the issuing authority
would keep a list of the signatures of the law enforcement
officers whose departments have advanced communication
technology systems in place, and compare the signature on the
transmitted information with the signature on the list; or an
established password system.
Paragraph (F) was added to the rule in 2005 to provide for
anticipatory search warrants. The rule incorporates the
definition of anticipatory search warrants set forth in
Commonwealth v. Glass, [562 Pa. 187');">562 Pa. 187, ] 754 A.2d 655
Paragraph (G) was added to clarify who must retain possession
of the original of the search warrant. When the search
warrant is issued using advanced communication technology,
the version delivered to the police officer is considered the
original for purposes of this rule.
NOTE: Rule 2003 adopted March 28, 1973, effective for
warrants issued 60 days hence; renumbered Rule 203 and
amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001; amended May
10, 2002, effective September 1, 2002; amended October 19,
2005, effective February 1, 2006; amended October 22, 2013,
effective January 1, 2014 [.] ; amended November 9, 2017,
effective January 1, 2018.
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COMMITTEE EXPLANATORY REPORTS: