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[U] Commonwealth v. Lucas

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 11, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
v.
LARRY MITCHELL LUCAS, JR. APPEAL OF: PAUL WEACHTER

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order Entered October 1, 2013, in the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Criminal Division, at No(s): CP-28-CR-0001354-2010.

BEFORE: MUNDY, OLSON, and STRASSBURGER [*] , JJ.

MEMORANDUM

STRASSBURGER, J.

Paul Weachter (Appellant), bail bondsman to Larry Mitchell Lucas, Jr., (Lucas), appeals from the order granting the Commonwealth's petition for bail forfeiture.[1] We affirm.

On May 20, 2010, Lucas was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (PWID). His bail was initially set at $100, 000.00. On July 6, 2010, Lucas waived his right to a preliminary hearing in exchange for a modified bail of $25, 000.00 secured. On July 8, 2010, Appellant posted the required bail for Lucas by providing 10% cash and the balance in a surety bond. Under the terms of his bail bond, Lucas agreed to "appear at all times required until full and final disposition of the case." See Bail Bond, 7/7/2010. On the surety information page, which Appellant signed, Appellant acknowledged that

I understand that when a monetary condition of release is imposed, if the defendant appears at all times required by the court and satisfies all the other conditions set forth in the bail bond, then upon full and final disposition of the case, this bond shall be void. If the defendant fails to appear as required or to comply with the conditions of the bail bond, then this bond shall remain in full force, and the sum of the monetary condition of release may be forfeited, the defendant's release may be revoked, and a warrant for the defendant's arrest may be issued.

See Surety Information Page, 7/7/2010.

On February 21, 2011, Lucas pleaded guilty to PWID. Sentencing was set for June 8, 2011. Lucas failed to appear at sentencing. The sentencing court continued the matter one week, to June 15, 2011, to allow counsel an opportunity to determine Lucas' whereabouts and advise him of the need to appear for sentencing. On June 15, 2011, Lucas' counsel appeared for sentencing, but Lucas did not. The court sentenced Lucas in absentia and issued a bench warrant for his arrest the same day.

Nearly a year later, on May 24, 2012, the Commonwealth filed a petition for bail forfeiture. Following a number of continuances and additional filings by both parties, a hearing was held on October 17, 2012. On December 31, 2012, the common pleas court issued an order directing Appellant to forfeit Lucas' bail in the case 180 days from the date of the order if Lucas was not brought before the court within that time frame. The court indicated an opinion would issue in support of the order; however, prior to the filing of the opinion, Appellant filed a notice of appeal to this Court.

By per curiam Judgment Order of September 18, 2013, this merits panel quashed Appellant's appeal, finding that the lower court's December 31, 2012 order was interlocutory and not ripe for appellate review. Pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 2542(a)(1), Appellant had 14 days, or until October 2, 2013, to file an application for reargument of the panel decision. On October 18, 2013, Appellant and the Commonwealth filed a "Joint Motion for Reconsideration Pursuant to 210 Pennsylvania Code §65.39, " requesting this panel review its decision in light of a "final order" issued by the trial court on October 1, 2013.[2] This panel granted reconsideration on November 25, 2013.[3]

Appellant sets forth two issues for our review.

1. Did the [trial court] misapply the law and/or exercise manifestly unreasonable judgment when ordering forfeiture of bail where the Commonwealth failed to follow local Rules of Procedure regarding bail forfeiture, and where the Commonwealth waited nearly one year to notify the surety of [Lucas'] failure to appear?
2. Did the [trial court] fail to properly apply the applicable legal standards for determining whether bail forfeiture should occur, including ...

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