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RALPH R. DEVILLARS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (08/14/81)

decided: August 14, 1981.

RALPH R. DEVILLARS, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of McKean County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Ralph R. DeVillars, Nos. 62 and 63 December Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Richard H. Martin, Baskin and Sears, for appellant.

John M. Cleland, Woods, Baker & Cleland, with him, Ralph N. DeCamp, for appellee.

Judges Blatt, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 275]

Ralph R. DeVillars (Appellant) was found guilty by a District Justice of the Peace of failing to file tax returns*fn1 with the municipality and school district where he resides as required by appropriate ordinance and resolution adopted pursuant to The Local Tax Enabling Act, Act of December 31, 1965, P.L. 1257, as amended, 53 P.S. § 6901 et seq.

Appellant was fined $200 and costs for each offense. A timely appeal was filed by Appellant, pro se, to the Court of Common Pleas of McKean County and a de novo hearing was held. Appellant was unrepresented at the hearing but when he was asked if he wished to testify, he replied that he would exercise his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination whereupon, the trial judge stated that "the appeal is dismissed and the costs to be on the defendant for these proceedings."*fn2

According to the record before us, the next event in the case was the filing of a motion for a new trial and in arrest of judgment. On November 19, 1979, the date fixed for argument, the record discloses that there was a general discussion among the trial judge

[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 276]

    and counsel*fn3 during the course of which the Appellant was again asked if he wished to testify and again he replied that he was exercising his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. Almost immediately after that statement by Appellant, the trial judge said that he found Appellant guilty and proceeded to sentence him to thirty days in the McKean County Jail, fined him $500.00 and directed him to pay the costs of prosecution "and restitution." Finally, the trial judge ordered that the sentence be carried out immediately.*fn4 An appeal was filed with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania the same day; nevertheless, Appellant was incarcerated and served his thirty day sentence.

On December 7, 1979, a paper dated November 19, 1979 entitled "Sentence" was filed directing Appellant to pay the costs of prosecution and undergo an imprisonment for thirty days. No mention is made of fine or restitution.

Appellant's appeal was transferred from the Superior Court to this Court by virtue of the provisions of 42 Pa. C.S. § 762(a)(4).

In his brief, Appellant raises but two issues:*fn5 1) the trial court should be reversed because his constitutional rights were abridged and 2) the sentence*fn6 should be vacated for illegality. The taxing authorities deny that Appellant's constitutional ...


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