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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. EASTER FEICK (01/05/82)

filed: January 5, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
v.
EASTER FEICK, APPELLANT



No. 565 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, of Allegheny County, at No. J 104 1980.

COUNSEL

John H. Corbett, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

James H. McLean, Pittsburgh, for participating party.

Price, Montgomery and Van der Voort, JJ. Price, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Montgomery

[ 294 Pa. Super. Page 111]

This appeal arises from the adjudication of appellant as delinquent pursuant to the Juvenile Act,*fn1 upon a finding of contempt by the Honorable Patrick R. Tamilia. For the following reasons, we vacate the order of the lower court and reverse judgment of sentence.

The record evinces that appellant, who at the time of adjudication was sixteen years of age, suffered from physical and psychological parental abuse. The lower court assumed jurisdiction over her on January 15, 1980. A hearing was held on January 23, 1980, at which time she was found to be dependent under the Juvenile Act,*fn2 and placed under the supervision of Children and Youth Services at McIntyre Shelter*fn3 pending evaluation and/or placement. Appellant ran away from the shelter and her whereabouts were unknown for several months. When located, appellant was detained at Shuman Center, a secure facility designed for delinquent children, while she awaited the filing and disposition

[ 294 Pa. Super. Page 112]

    of a delinquency petition charging her with violation of a court order in running away from McIntyre Shelter. As stated earlier, the lower court found her in contempt and adjudicated her delinquent.

The sole issue for our consideration is whether the juvenile court had a sufficient basis for adjudicating appellant delinquent. Our court was recently faced with this question as a matter of first impression. Interest of Taessing H., 281 Pa. Super. 400, 422 A.2d 530 (1980). The majority in Taessing found that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate a child charged with contempt delinquent. Though two members of the three judge panel agreed to the disposition in Taessing, their rationales differed. The author of the majority opinion deduced that the contempt, which resulted from a runaway incident the same as that herein, was civil and not criminal. It was, therefore, erroneous to adjudicate the juvenile delinquent. The concurring judge based his agreement with the majority's disposition on the premise that though the contempt was criminal, the underlying conduct was not a crime under the Juvenile Act, and, therefore, could not be the basis for an adjudication of delinquency. We agree with and are bound by the majority opinion in Taessing.

In order for a juvenile to be found delinquent, the contempt for which he or she is cited must be a crime under the law of this Commonwealth. 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 6302. There are two classes of contempt, civil and criminal, which are distinguishable according to the prevailing purpose and objective of the court's order. Commonwealth v. Marcone, 487 Pa. 572, 410 A.2d 759 (1980); In re "B"., 482 Pa. 471, 394 A.2d 419 (1978). A citation is for criminal contempt if the court's purpose was to vindicate the dignity and authority of the court and to protect the interest of the general public. If the purpose of the citation is to coerce the contemnor into compliance with the order of the court to do or refrain from ...


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