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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MICHAEL J. RUDINSKI (02/01/89)

filed: February 1, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
MICHAEL J. RUDINSKI, APPELLANT



Appeal from Judgment of Sentence February 17, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Criminal, No. 87-10, 805.

COUNSEL

John P. Campana, Williamsport, for appellant.

Robert W. Ferrell, Assistant District Attorney, Williamsport, for Com.

Wieand, Olszewski and Tamilia, JJ.

Author: Olszewski

[ 382 Pa. Super. Page 463]

Appellant, Michael J. Rudinski, appeals from a judgment of sentence imposing a fine of $15.00 for violation of a Williamsport city ordinance governing overtime parking and a $15.00 fine for violation of 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3353(a)(3), parking in restricted areas. Appellant contends that: (1) the trial court erred in refusing to arrest judgment; and (2) the trial court violated appellant's constitutional right to due process. For reasons discussed below, we affirm the determination of the trial court.

On June 1, 1987, in the City of Williamsport, a parking ticket for parking in a restricted zone was issued to appellant's car. Subsequently, law enforcement authorities issued a second parking ticket to appellant's vehicle for overtime parking. When the tickets were not paid, appellant received citations pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 95 which permits law enforcement officials to institute criminal proceedings by issuing a citation following non-payment of a parking ticket. A District Justice found appellant guilty of overtime parking, City Ordinance 521.02, and parking in restricted areas, 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3353(a)(3). The case was subsequently heard de novo by the trial court, which found appellant guilty of all charges. This appeal follows denial of appellant's motions in arrest of judgment and for new trial.

Appellant claims that the trial court erred in denying his motion in arrest of judgment and denied his right to due process when the Commonwealth did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt the identity of the perpetrator. Appellant contends that because the trial court permitted the Commonwealth to rely upon the presumption that an owner of an automobile parked it, the burden of proof has been unconstitutionally shifted to appellant to establish that he did not park the car. Appellant asserts that the Commonwealth

[ 382 Pa. Super. Page 464]

    was required to establish beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the illegal parking of an automobile, and (2) the identity of the person parking the car; and cites Commonwealth v. Slaybaugh, 468 Pa. 618, 364 A.2d 687 (1976), in support of his argument that the presumption that the owner of a vehicle is responsible for parking violations is unconstitutional.

In Slaybaugh, our Supreme Court held that 75 P.S. § 1212 (repealed) was unconstitutional. The provision provided in pertinent part:

In any proceeding for a violation of the provisions of this act or any local ordinance, rule or regulation, the registration plate displayed on such vehicle or tractor shall be prima facie evidence that the owner of such vehicle was then operating the same . . . .

75 P.S. § 1212 (repealed). While we agree with the Supreme Court's holding in Slaybaugh, it has subsequently been applied exclusively to situations in which the presumption of ownership was used to convict a driver of a moving violation. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Leaman, 255 Pa. Super. 481, 388 A.2d 330 (1978). In our opinion, the distinction between a ...


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