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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. HELEN MARIE DYGERT (05/02/80)

filed: May 2, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
HELEN MARIE DYGERT, APPELLANT



No. 313 April Term, 1979, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Criminal Division, No. 422 of 1978.

COUNSEL

David Truax, Assistant Public Defender, Meadville, for appellant.

Stephen Toole, Assistant District Attorney, Meadville, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, Hoffman and Van der Voort, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 277 Pa. Super. Page 545]

The issue presented by this appeal is whether the Rule 1100 period began to run from the date of appellant's warrantless arrest or from the date a criminal complaint was filed against her. We hold that the period began to run at the time the complaint was filed, and, accordingly, we affirm the judgment of sentence.

On the evening of September 23, 1977, Sergeant Charles Shaw of the Meadville, Pennsylvania, police department arrested appellant on suspicion that she was driving under the influence of alcohol. After informing appellant of her constitutional rights, the officer took her to the police station. A breathalyzer test administered at the station showed that appellant's blood alcohol level was .23 percent. Because she refused to tell the police whom to call to drive her home, appellant was held in the city jail until the following morning, when she was released. Although the police had intended to file a complaint and send a summons to appellant immediately, because of administrative oversight, they did not file the complaint until August 30, 1978-341 days after the arrest. The lower court rejected appellant's pretrial Rule 1100 challenge. On January 9, 1979, following a non-jury trial, appellant was found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. This appeal followed.

Appellant's sole contention is that her prompt trial rights under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100 were violated because of the delay between her arrest and the issuance of a complaint against her.*fn1 Rule 1100(a)(2) provides:

[ 277 Pa. Super. Page 546]

Trial in a court case in which a written complaint is filed against the defendant after June 30, 1974 shall commence no later than one hundred and eighty (180) days from the date on which the complaint is filed.

Thus, absent special circumstances, the commencement of the Rule 1100 period is triggered by the filing of the criminal complaint. Although appellant was tried within 180 days of the filing of the complaint against her, she asserts that under the special circumstances of her case, the Rule required that she be tried within 180 days of her arrest. In support of this contention, appellant quotes the following language from Commonwealth v. Mitchell, 472 Pa. 553, 372 A.2d 826 (1977): "Rule 1100 contemplates the commencement of the running of the mandatory period at the point criminal proceedings are initiated." Id., 472 Pa. at 559, 372 A.2d at 829.

Several decisions offer guidance in the determination of the point at which "criminal proceedings are initiated." For example, this Court in Commonwealth v. Silver, 238 Pa. Super. 221, 357 A.2d 612 (1976), concluded that the Rule 1100 period did not begin to run from the filing of an investigating grand jury's presentment. In reaching this conclusion, we noted the following indicia of initiation of criminal proceedings:

When a written complaint is filed, . . . prosecutorial forces are quickly brought to bear against the named individual. If he is not already in custody the issuing authority, upon approving the complaint, will issue a summons or warrant of arrest. See Pa.R.Crim.P. 134 and 102. If a summons is used the defendant will be commanded to appear for a preliminary hearing, Pa.R.Crim.P. 110; if he fails to comply an arrest warrant will follow, Pa.R.Crim.P. 113. If an arrest warrant is used the defendant will be taken without unnecessary delay for a ...


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