from the Judgment of Sentence June 17, 2016 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at
BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., RANSOM, J., and PLATT, J. [*]
Richie Peralta, appeals from the judgment of sentence of June
17, 2016, imposed after the court dismissed his de
novo appeal for failure to appear. We affirm.
March 15, 2016, Appellant was stopped at the intersection of
Tioga and Colon Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, due to
the tinted windows of his car. Upon running Appellant's
license, the police officer discovered that Appellant's
license had been suspended. The officer wrote two traffic
citations for the above violations. See Traffic
Citations AA23374I-4 and AA233742-5. A hearing for these
citations was scheduled for May 17, 2016, at 9:00 a.m.
Appellant did not appear at the hearing, was found guilty
in absentia and was fined $146.50 and $275.00,
respectively. That same day, Appellant filed a notice of
appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, and a trial de
novo was scheduled for June 17, 2016. See
Notice of Appeal, 5/17/16.
17, 2016, Appellant failed to appear for his trial de
novo, and his appeal was dismissed. See Order,
6/17/16. Appellant retained counsel and filed an unopposed
motion for reconsideration. See Mot. for Recons.,
6/22/16, at ¶¶ 1-6. The motion averred that
Appellant worked nine hours a day, seven days a week, and
that due to his heavy workload, unrelated legal troubles, and
conflict within his family, he had inadvertently missed his
trial. Id. The Commonwealth did not oppose the
motion. Id. The court heard argument from
Appellant's counsel but ultimately denied the motion.
See Notes of Testimony (N.T.), 6/22/16, at 3-16.
timely appealed and filed a court-ordered Pa.R.A.P.
1925(b) statement of errors complained of on appeal. The
court issued a responsive opinion.
appeal, Appellant raises the following issues for our review,
which we have reordered for ease of analysis:
1. Whether or not it was an abuse of discretion for the trial
court to deny relief to the Appellant, when promptly
presented with his credible claim of involuntariness, and
where the Commonwealth did not oppose the motion for
reconsideration and argued before the trial court that it be
granted, where the Appellant was pro se at the time
of his absence, where the denial was based on the trial
court's procedural rigidity?
2. Whether or not it was an error of law for the trial court
to deny the Appellant a new trial after his de novo
summary appeal was dismissed for failing to appear, where he
presented a prima facie claim of involuntariness that was
found to be credible.
3. Whether or not it was an error of law for the trial court
to find the Appellant was absent without cause, where he
failed to appear due to his inability to remember his court
date cause [sic] stress from conflict in his home
life and overwork?
4. Whether or not it was an error of law for the trial court
to dismiss the Appellant's appeal under Pa.R.Crim.P.
1037(D)(2) for failing to appear prior to his de
novo summary trial at a status/settlement conference
scheduled by the Court of Common Pleas pursuant to
Appellant's Brief at 7.
standard of review regarding summary conviction appeals ...