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COMMONWEALTH v. CONARD (06/17/65)

decided: June 17, 1965.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
CONARD, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of Berks County, Dec. T., 1958, No. 150, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Verle G. Conard.

COUNSEL

Raymond C. Schlegel, for appellant.

Ralph J. Althouse, Assistant District Attorney, with him W. Richard Eshelman, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Flood, J., absent). Opinion by Jacobs, J.

Author: Jacobs

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 36]

Appellant was indicted on November 25, 1958, on charges of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. His first trial in June, 1960, ended in a mistrial because of the sudden illness of the trial judge. He was tried again in September, 1960, and that trial ended in a mistrial because of the illness of one of the alleged victims. He was again tried in March, 1963, and on March 14, 1963, a jury found him guilty on both counts. Motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial were refused by the court below and sentence was imposed. Appellant appeals from the judgment of sentence.

Appellant claims that his constitutional rights were violated by his arrest without a warrant and the failure to immediately have a preliminary hearing. Appellant was arrested on the evening of September 25, 1958. A warrant was issued the next day and appellant was committed to the Berks County Prison in default of bail. A preliminary hearing was set for October 7, 1958, and was postponed until October 14, 1958, at the appellant's request.

A police officer may arrest without a warrant where he has knowledge of facts and circumstances which are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable caution to believe that a certain individual has committed a felony. Commonwealth ex rel. Whiting v. Rundle, 414 Pa. 17. It is not necessary that the one arrested be accorded an immediate hearing before a magistrate. Commonwealth v. Thomas, 189 Pa. Superior Ct. 25 at 31. Nor is a mere delay in granting a defendant a preliminary hearing necessarily a denial of his constitutional rights. Commonwealth v. Graham,

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 37408]

Pa. 155. Appellant has not shown that he was prejudiced in any way by the failure to secure a warrant until the day after he was arrested or the failure to set a hearing before October 7, 1958. He does not claim that the officer lacked reasonable grounds for suspecting him, nor did he make a confession. We are satisfied that his constitutional rights were not violated and that a hearing was fixed within a reasonable time.

In this case the Commonwealth cross-examined the appellant as to a prior conviction for prison breach and a prior conviction of burglary, larceny and receiving stolen goods. The appellant admitted the prior convictions and the Commonwealth did not offer the records of said convictions. Such cross-examination was permitted for the purpose of impeaching appellant's credibility and for no other purpose and so the trial judge clearly told the jury.

Unless a defendant attempts to establish his own good reputation at the trial he may not be asked about convictions of other offenses. Act of March 15, 1911, P. L. 20, 19 P.S. 711. Commonwealth v. Wiswesser, 124 Pa. Superior Ct. 251. The Act of 1911 was passed to prevent fishing expeditions by way of cross-examination which might prove very prejudicial to the defendant. Commonwealth v. Williams, 307 Pa. 134. No attempt was made by the defendant to establish his own good reputation and his credibility should have been impeached simply by producing and offering the record of his conviction of the felonies. However, defendant made no motion to withdraw a juror and does not now object to the manner of introducing his prior convictions and we will treat the same as if properly introduced. The appellant's sole objection to the admission ...


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