Rule 543. Disposition of Case at Preliminary Hearing.

 (A)  At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the decision of the issuing authority shall be publicly pronounced.

 (B)  If the issuing authority finds that the Commonwealth has established a prima facie case that an offense has been committed and the defendant has committed it, the issuing authority shall hold the defendant for court on the offense(s) on which the Commonwealth established a prima facie case. If there is no offense for which a prima facie case has been established, the issuing authority shall discharge the defendant.

 (C)  When the defendant has appeared and has been held for court, the issuing authority shall:

   (1)  set bail as permitted by law if the defendant did not receive a preliminary arraignment; or

   (2)  continue the existing bail order, unless the issuing authority modifies the order as permitted by Rule 529(A);

   (3)  if the defendant has not submitted to the administrative processing and identification procedures as authorized by law, such as fingerprinting pursuant to Rule 510(C)(2), make compliance with these processing procedures a condition of bail; and

   (4)  advise the defendant that, if the defendant fails to appear without cause at any proceeding for which the defendant’s presence is required, including the trial, the defendant’s absence may be deedmed a waiver of the right to be present, and the proceeding may be conducted in the defendant’s absence.

 (D)  In any case in which the defendant fails to appear for the preliminary hearing:

   (1)  if the issuing authority finds that the defendant did not receive notice of the preliminary hearing by a summons served pursuant to Rule 511, a warrant of arrest shall be issued pursuant to Rule 509(2)(d).

   (2)  If the issuing authority finds that there was cause explaining the defendant’s failure to appear, the issuing authority shall continue the preliminary hearing to a specific date and time, and shall give notice of the new date, time, and place as provided in Rule 542(G)(2). The issuing authority shall not issue a bench warrant.

   (3)  If the issuing authority finds that the defendant’s absence is without cause and after notice, the absence shall be deemed a waiver by the defendant of the right to be present at any further proceedings before the issuing authority.

     (a)   In these cases, the issuing authority shall proceed with the case in the same manner as though the defendant were present.

     (b)   If the preliminary hearing is conducted and the case held for court, the issuing authority shall

       (i)   give the defendant notice by first class mail of the results of the preliminary hearing and that a bench warrant has been requested; and

       (ii)   pursuant to Rule 547, transmit the transcript to the clerk of courts with a request that a bench warrant be issued by the court of common pleas and, if the defendant has not complied with the fingerprint order issued pursuant to Rule 510(C)(2), with a notice to the court of common pleas of the defendant’s noncompliance.

     (c)   If the preliminary hearing is conducted and the case is dismissed, the issuing authority shall give the defendant notice by first class mail of the results of the preliminary hearing.

     (d)   If a continuance is granted, the issuing authority shall give the parties notice of the new date, time, and place as provided in Rule 542(G)(2), and may issue a bench warrant. If a bench warrant is issued and the warrant remains unserved for the continuation of the preliminary hearing, the issuing authority shall vacate the bench warrant. The case shall proceed as provided in paragraphs (D)(3)(b) or (c).

 (E)  If the Commonwealth does not establish a prima facie case of the defendant’s guilt, and no application for a continuance is made and there is no reason for a continuance, the issuing authority shall dismiss the complaint.

 (F)  In any case in which a summary offense is joined with misdemeanor, felony, or murder charges:

   (1)  If the Commonwealth establishes a prima facie case pursuant to paragraph (B), the issuing authority shall not adjudicate or dispose of the summary offenses, but shall forward the summary offenses to the court of common pleas with the charges held for court.

   (2)  If the Commonwealth does not establish a prima facie case pursuant to paragraph (B), upon the request of the Commonwealth, the issuing authority shall dispose of the summary offense as provided in Rule 454 (Trial In Summary Cases).

   (3)  If the Commonwealth withdraws all the misdemeanor, felony, and murder charges, the issuing authority shall dispose of the summary offense as provided in Rule 454 (Trial In Summary Cases).

 (G)  Except as provided in Rule 541(D), once a case is bound over to the court of common pleas, the case shall not be remanded to the issuing authority.

Comment

   Paragraph (B) was amended in 2011 to clarify what is the current law in Pennsylvania that, based on the evidence presented by the Commonwealth at the preliminary hearing, the issuing authority may find that the Commonwealth has not made out a prima facie case as to the offense charged in the complaint but has made out a prima facie case as to a lesser offense of the offense charged. In this case, the issuing authority may hold the defendant for court on that lesser offense only. The issuing authority, however, may not sua sponte reduce the grading of any charge.

   See Rule 1003 (Procedure In Non-Summary Municipal Court Cases) for the preliminary hearing procedures in Municipal Court, including reducing felony charges at the preliminary hearing in Philadelphia.

   Paragraph (C) reflects the fact that a bail determination will already have been made at the preliminary arraignment, except in those cases in which, pursuant to a summons, the defendant’s first appearance is at the preliminary hearing. See Rules 509 and 510.

   Paragraph (C)(4) requires that the defendant be advised of the consequences of failing to appear for any court proceeding. See Rule 602 concerning a defendant’s failure to appear for trial; see also Commonwealth v. Bond, 693 A.2d 220, 223 (Pa. Super. 1997) (‘‘[A] defendant who is unaware of the charges against him, unaware of the establishment of his trial date or is absent involuntarily is not absent ‘without cause.’’’).

   If the administrative processing and identification procedures as authorized by law, such as fingerprinting required by the Criminal History Record Information Act, 18 Pa.C.S. §  9112, that ordinarily occur following an arrest are not completed previously, when bail is set at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the issuing authority must order the defendant to submit to the administrative processing and identification procedures as a condition of bail. See Rule 527 for nonmonetary conditions of release on bail.

   If a case initiated by summons is held for court after the preliminary hearing is conducted in the defendant’s absence pursuant to paragraph (D)(2) and the defendant has not complied with the fingerprint order issued pursuant to Rule 510(C)(2), the issuing authority must include with the transmittal of the transcript a notice to the court of common pleas that the defendant has not complied with the fingerprint order. See Rule 547.

   Nothing in this rule is intended to preclude judicial districts from providing written notice of the arraignment to the defendant at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing when a case is held for court. See Rule 571.

   Paragraphs (D)(2) and (D)(3) were amended in 2013 changing the phrase ‘‘good cause’’ to ‘‘cause’’ in reference to whether the defendant’s absence at the time of the preliminary hearing permits the preliminary hearing to proceed in the defendant’s absence. This amendment is not intended as a change in the standard for making this determination. The change makes the language consistent with the language in Rule 602 describing the standard by which a defendant’s absence is judged for the trial to proceed in the defendant’s absence. In both situations, the standard is the same.

   When a defendant fails to appear for the preliminary hearing, before proceeding with the case as provided in paragraph (D), the issuing authority must determine (1) whether the defendant received notice of the time, date, and place of the preliminary hearing either in person at a preliminary arraignment as provided in Rule 540(G)(2) or in a summons served as provided in Rule 511, and (2) whether the defendant had cause explaining the absence.

   If the issuing authority determines that the defendant did not receive notice, the issuing authority must issue an arrest warrant as provided in Rule 509, and the case will proceed pursuant to Rules 516 or 517. See paragraph (D)(1).

   If the issuing authority determines that there is cause explaining why the defendant failed to appear, the preliminary hearing must be continued and rescheduled for a date certain. See paragraph (D)(2). For the procedures when a preliminary hearing is continued, see Rule 542(G).

   If the issuing authority determines that the defendant received service of the summons as defined in Rule 511 and has not provided good cause explaining why he or she failed to appear, the defendant’s absence constitutes a waiver of the defendant’s right to be present for subsequent proceedings before the issuing authority. The duration of this waiver only extends through those proceedings that the defendant is absent.

   When the defendant fails to appear after notice and without cause, paragraph (D)(3)(a) provides that the case is to proceed in the same manner as if the defendant were present. The issuing authority either would proceed with the preliminary hearing as provided in Rule 542(A), (B), (C) and Rule 543(A), (B), (C), and (D)(3)(b) or (c); or, if the issuing authority determines it necessary, continue the case to a date certain as provided in Rule 542(G); or, in the appropriate case, convene the preliminary hearing for the taking of testimony of the witnesses who are present, and then continue the remainder of the hearing until a date certain. When the case is continued, the issuing authority may issue a bench warrant as provided in paragraph (D)(3)(d), and must send the required notice of the new date to the defendant, thus providing the defendant with another opportunity to appear.

   Paragraph (D)(3)(b)(ii) requires the issuing authority to include with the Rule 547 transmittal a request that the court of common pleas issue a bench warrant if the case is held for court.

   In addition to the paragraph (D)(3)(b) notice requirements, the notice may include the date of the arraignment in common pleas court.

   For purposes of modifying bail once bail has been set by a common pleas judge, see Rules 529 and 536.

   See Rule 571 (Arraignment) for notice of arraignment requirements.

   Rule 542(F) specifically prohibits an issuing authority at a preliminary hearing from proceeding on any summary offenses that are joined with misdemeanor, felony, or murder charges, except as provided in paragraph (F) of this rule. Paragraph (F) sets forth the procedures for the issuing authority to handle these summary offenses at the preliminary hearing. These procedures include the issuing authority (1) forwarding the summary offenses together with the misdemeanor, felony, or murder charges held for court to the court of common pleas, or (2) disposing of the summary offenses as provided in Rule 454 by accepting a guilty plea or conducting a trial whenever (a) the misdemeanor, felony, and murder charges are withdrawn, or (b) a prima facie case is not established at the preliminary hearing and the Commonwealth requests that the issuing authority proceed on the summary offenses.

   Under paragraph (F)(2), in those cases in which the Commonwealth does not intend to refile the misdemeanor, felony, or murder charges, the Commonwealth may request that the issuing authority dispose of the summary offenses. In these cases, if all the parties are ready to proceed, the issuing authority should conduct the summary trial at that time. If the parties are not prepared to proceed with the summary trial, the issuing authority should grant a continuance and set the summary trial for a date and time certain.

   In those cases in which a prima facie case is not established at the preliminary hearing, and the Commonwealth does not request that the issuing authority proceed on the summary offenses, the issuing authority should dismiss the complaint, and discharge the defendant unless there are outstanding detainers against the defendant that would prevent the defendant’s release.

   Paragraph (G) emphasizes the general rule that once a case has been bound over to the court of common pleas, the case is not permitted to be remanded to the issuing authority. There is a limited exception to the general rule in the situation in which the right to a previously waived preliminary hearing is reinstated and the parties agree, with the consent of the common pleas judge, that the preliminary hearing be held before the issuing authority. See Rule 541(D).

   Nothing in this rule would preclude the refiling of one or more of the charges, as provided in these rules.

   See Rule 313 for the disposition of any summary offenses joined with misdemeanor or felony charges when the defendant is accepted into an ARD program on the misdemeanor or felony charges.

   Official Note

   Original Rule 123, adopted June 30, 1964, effective January 1, 1965, suspended January 31, 1970, effective May 1, 1970. New Rule 123 adopted January 31, 1970, effective May 1, 1970; renumbered Rule 143 September 18, 1973, effective January 1, 1974; amended January 28, 1983, effective July 1, 1983; amended August 9, 1994, effective January 1, 1995; amended September 13, 1995, effective January 1, 1996. The January 1, 1996 effective date extended to April 1, 1996; the April 1, 1996 effective date extended to July 1, 1996; renumbered Rule 142 October 8, 1999, effective January 1, 2000; renumbered Rule 543 and amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001; amended August 24, 2004, effective August 1, 2005; amended December 30, 2005, effective August 1, 2006; amended March 9, 2006, effective September 1, 2006; amended May 1, 2007, effective September 4, 2007, and May 1, 2007 Order amended May 15, 2007; amended July 10, 2008, effective February 1, 2009; amended February 12, 2010, effective April 1, 2010; amended January 27, 2011, effective in 30 days; Comment revised July 31, 2012, effective November 1, 2012; amended October 1, 2012, effective July 1, 2013; amended May 2, 2013, effective June 1, 2013.

   Committee Explanatory Reports:

   Report explaining the August 9, 1994 amendments published at 22 Pa.B. 18 (January 4, 1992); Final Report published with the Court’s Order at 24 Pa.B. 4342 (August 27, 1994).

   Final Report explaining the September 13, 1995 amendments published with the Court’s Order at 25 Pa.B. 4116 (September 30, 1995).

   Final Report explaining the October 8, 1999 renumbering of Rule 143 published with the Court’s Order at 29 Pa.B. 5509 (October 23, 1999).

   Final Report explaining the March 1, 2000 reorganization and renumbering of the rules published with the Court’s Order at 30 Pa.B. 1478 (March 18, 2000).

   Final Report explaining the August 24, 2004 changes concerning the procedures when a defendant fails to appear published with the Court’s Order at 34 Pa.B. 5025 (September 11, 2004).

   Final Report explaining the December 30, 2005 changes adding references to bench warrants published with the Court’s Order at 36 Pa.B. 184 (January 14, 2006).

   Final Report explaining the March 9, 2006 amendments adding new paragraphs (E) and (F) published with the Court’s Order at 36 Pa.B. 1392 (March 25, 2006).

   Final Report explaining the May 19, 2006 amendments correcting cross-references to Rule 529 published with the Court’s Order at 36 Pa.B. 2633 (June 3, 2006).

   Final Report explaining the May 1, 2007 changes clarifying the procedures when a defendant fails to appear published with the Court’s Order at 37 Pa.B. 2496 (June 2, 2007).

   Final Report explaining the July 10, 2008 amendments to paragraphs (C) and (D)(2)(c) concerning administrative processing and identification procedures published with the Court’s Order at 38 Pa.B. 3971 (July 26, 2008).

   Final Report explaining the February 12, 2010 amendments adding new paragraph (G) prohibiting remands to the issuing authority published with the Court’s Order at 40 Pa.B. 1068 (February 27, 2010).

   Court’s Order adopting the January 27, 2011 amendments to paragraph (B) concerning prima facie case published at 41 Pa.B. 834 (February 12, 2011).

   Final Report explaining the July 31, 2012 revision of the Comment changing the citation to Rule 540(F)(2) to Rule 540(G)(2) published with the Court’s Order at 42 Pa.B. 5340 (August 18, 2012).

   Final Report explaining the October 1, 2012 amendments to paragraphs (D)(2) and (D)(3)(d) adding ‘‘place’’ to ‘‘date and time’’ for preliminary hearing notices published with the Court’s Order at 42 Pa.B. 6629 (October 20, 2012).

   Final Report explaining the May 2, 2013 amendments concerning notice of consequences of failing to appear published the Court’s Order at 43 Pa.B. 2710 (May 18, 2013).

Source

   The provisions of this Rule 543 amended August 24, 2004, effective August 1, 2005, 34 Pa.B. 5016; amended December 30, 2005, effective August 1, 2006, 36 Pa.B. 181; amended March 9, 2006, effective September 1, 2006, 36 Pa.B. 1385; amended May 19, 2006, effective August 1, 2006, 36 Pa.B. 2631; amended May 1, 2007, effective September 4, 2007, 37 Pa.B. 2496; amended July 10, 2008, effective February 1, 2009, 38 Pa.B. 3971; amended February 12, 2010, effective April 1, 2010, 40 Pa.B. 1068; amended January 27, 2011, effective in 30 days, 41 Pa.B. 834; amended July 31, 2012, 42 Pa.B. 5333; amended October 1, 2012, effective July 1, 2013, 42 Pa.B. 6622; amended May 2, 2013, effective June 1, 2013, 43 Pa.B. 2704. Immediately preceeding text appears at serial pages (364102) to (364106).



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