No. 310 January Term, 1979, No. 305 January Term, 1979, Appeal from finding of Contempt and sentencing by the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Criminal, at No. 2908 and 2940 of 1977, Order dated June 22, 1979.
Gregory B. Emmons, Doylestown, Asst. Public Defender, for appellants.
Stephen B. Harris, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Manderino, J., did not participate in the decision of this case.
This is an appeal of the criminal contempt convictions of appellants Vincent and Debra Ferrara (husband and wife).
These convictions arose as follows: On October 19, 1977, each appellant was charged with theft by deception, bad checks, and criminal conspiracy. On that date, appellants were preliminarily arraigned and each was released on bail. As conditions of bail, each appellant was required to "appear before . . . [the court] . . . at all time as his presence may be required, ordered, or directed, until full and final disposition of the case, to plead, to answer and defend as ordered the aforesaid . . . charges" and to "to submit himself to all orders and processes of the . . . court". Additionally, each appellant was required to give written notice to the clerk of courts, the District Attorney and court bail agency of any change of address within 48 hours of said change.*fn1
On or about December 23, 1977, the clerk of courts sent a notice to the last known address of each appellant, notifying same that arraignment was scheduled for January 4, 1978 and that trial was scheduled to commence on January 23, 1978. On January 4, 1978, appellants failed to appear for arraignment and so bench warrants were issued. On January 23, 1978, appellants failed to appear for trial and their cases were continued.
On June 22, 1979, the bench warrants were returned and appellants were brought before the lower court. Appellant Debra Ferrara was examined and she testified in pertinent part:
BY MR. EMMONS [ASSISTANT PUBLIC DEFENDER]:
Q Will you explain to the Court why you didn't appear?
A [APPELLANT DEBRA FERRARA] Your Honor, there is no reason. I just didn't appear, I was scared. I had no reason not to appear. I had never been arrested before. That was the first time I was arrested, I was just scared and I didn't come.
Q What did you think was going to happen?
Q If you didn't appear, did you think that everyone would forget about it?
A To tell you the truth, yes.
Q Where have you been between January of 1978 until ...