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JOSEPH A. RUCKINGER v. VERNON D. WEICHT (08/28/86)

filed: August 28, 1986.

JOSEPH A. RUCKINGER, APPELLANT,
v.
VERNON D. WEICHT



Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, Civil Division, No. 721 C.P. 1985.

COUNSEL

Harold E. Miller, Altoona, for appellant.

Karen Pfeffer, Hollidaysburg, for appellee.

Rowley, McEwen and Tamilia, JJ.

Author: Tamilia

[ 356 Pa. Super. Page 456]

This is an appeal from an Order dismissing appellant's action in mandamus.

Appellant posted bail of $8,500 in cash, ten per cent of the named bail for his son. Under Blair County court Rule 481, appellant was required to sign an agreement allowing the bail money to be used to pay any costs, fines or restitution which may result from the charges against his son.

Appellant's son was found guilty and fined over $2,500. His appeal on that case is pending. While the son remained free on bail he was arrested and incarcerated on other charges. The appellant executed a bail piece authorizing the Blair County Prison warden to take his son into custody. Appellant then requested the return of his $8,500 and appellee, the Blair County Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts refused, based on local Rule 481.

Appellant filed an action in the nature of a mandamus. A hearing was held and the Order appealed from issued.

Appellant attacks the validity of the Blair County rule which requires the party posting bail to consent to the use of the money for purposes other than securing the appearance of the defendant.

[ 356 Pa. Super. Page 457]

We agree with appellant that the local rule is not in accord with the Rules of Criminal Procedure or the underlying purpose of bail and reverse.

The Pennsylvania Constitution, in Article 1, § 14, mandates all persons have a right to be released on bail prior to trial in all cases except those involving capital offenses.*fn1 Commonwealth v. Truesdale, 449 Pa. 325, 327, 296 A.2d 829, 831 (1972); Alberti v. Boyle, 412 Pa. 398, 195 A.2d 97 (1963). See also 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5701.

The right to release before trial is thus predicated upon the accused providing adequate assurance, in the form of bail, that he or she will appear for trial. Truesdale, supra; Commonwealth v. Heiser, 330 Pa. Super. 70, 478 A.2d 1355 (1984). The fundamental purpose of bail is, therefore, established as being to assure the presence of the accused at trial.

There are also considerations which support the liberal granting of bail.

In the absence of evidence the accussed will flee, certain basic principles of our criminal law indicate bail should be granted; these are (a) the importance of the presumption of innocence; (b) the distaste for the imposition of sanctions prior to trial and conviction and (c) the ...


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