Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 600 states that it is the Commonwealth's duty to bring a person, who is free on bail, to trial on criminal charges within 365 days of the filing of a criminal complaint. Based on this rule, there have been a number of issues which arise during litigation. One of the most frequently litigated issues at the trial level and on appeal deals with the issue of when the defendant's whereabouts are unknown to the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth failed to bring an accused to trial within 365 days, and whether the Commonwealth did their due dilligence to find the defendant.
If a Defendant is charged with a crime, but did not have notice of her Court date and/or that charges were filed against her, she may move to have the charges against her dismissed by filing a motion for dismissal under Rule 600, once a year passes from the date she was charged. An accused, unaware that process has been issued against him, has no obligation to make herself available. Instead the police must show that they exercised due diligence in attempting to locate a Defendant.
The test of due diligence has been described as follows:
When asked to decide whether the police have acted with due diligence, a court must engage in a balancing process, which may become quite awkward. Commonwealth v. Winn, 327 Pa. Super. 296, 475 A.2d 805 (1984). On the one hand, this determination must be based on a common sense approach to law enforcement which recognizes that the police department, not the court, is the best judge of how to deploy limited police personnel. Commonwealth v. Dorsey, 294 Pa. Super. 584, 440 A.2d 619 (1982); the Supreme Court said:
"It is not the function of our courts to second‑guess the police methods used by the police to locate accused persons . . . Deference must be afforded the police officer's judgment as to which avenues of approach will be fruitful."
The attorneys at the Kelly Law Firm are experienced and aggressive when it comes to the filing and arguing of pre-trial hearings. If you or someone you love have just been notified that charges have previously been filed against you, call us for a free consultation to discuss potential Rule 600 issues and other pre-trial motions.