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234 Pa. Code Rule 414. Guilty Pleas.

Rule 414. Guilty Pleas.

 (A)  A defendant may plead guilty by:

   (1)  notifying the issuing authority in writing of the plea and forwarding to the issuing authority an amount equal to the fine and costs specified in the summons; or

   (2)  appearing before the issuing authority for the entry of the plea and imposition of sentence when the fine and costs are not specified in the summons or after receipt of notice that a guilty plea by mail has not been accepted by the issuing authority pursuant to paragraph (B)(3).

 (B)  When the defendant pleads guilty pursuant to paragraph (A)(1):

   (1)  The defendant must sign the guilty plea acknowledging that the plea is entered voluntarily and understandingly.

   (2)  The issuing authority may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant as provided in Rules 430 and 431 if the amount forwarded with the plea is less than the amount of the fine and costs specified in the summons.

   (3)  Restrictions on the acceptance of guilty plea by mail:

     (a)   The issuing authority shall not accept a guilty plea that is submitted by mail when the offense carries a mandatory sentence of imprisonment.

     (b)   In those cases in which the charge carries a possible sentence of imprisonment, the issuing authority may accept a guilty plea submitted by mail.

     (c)   In any case in which the issuing authority does not accept a guilty plea submitted by mail, the issuing authority shall notify the defendant (1) that the guilty plea has not been accepted, (2) to appear personally before the issuing authority on a date and time certain, and (3) of the right to counsel. Notice of the rejection of the guilty plea by mail also shall be provided to the affiant.

 (C)  When the defendant is required to personally appear before the issuing authority to plead guilty pursuant to paragraph (A)(2) the issuing authority shall:

   (1)  advise the defendant of the right to counsel when there is a likelihood of imprisonment and give the defendant, upon request, a reasonable opportunity to secure counsel;

   (2)  determine by inquiring of the defendant that the plea is voluntarily and understandingly entered;

   (3)  have the defendant sign the plea form with a representation that the plea is entered voluntarily and understandingly;

   (4)  impose sentence, or, in cases in which the defendant may be sentenced to intermediate punishment, the issuing authority may delay the proceedings pending confirmation of the defendant’s eligibility for intermediate punishment; and

   (5)  provide for installment payments when a defendant who is sentenced to pay a fine and costs is without the financial means immediately to pay the fine and costs.


   The rule was amended in 2007 to make it clear (1) that a defendant may not enter a guilty plea by mail to an offense that carries a mandatory sentence of imprisonment, and (2) in those cases in which the offense carries a possible sentence of imprisonment, the issuing authority has the discretion whether or not to accept a guilty plea submitted by mail.

   Nothing in this rule is intended to require that an issuing authority should proceed as provided in paragraph (C) when the defendant returns the written guilty plea and the fine and costs in person to the issuing authority’s office pursuant to paragraphs (A)(1) and (B). The issuing authority’s staff should record receipt of the plea and monies in the same manner as those received by mail.

   Paragraph (C)(4) was added in 2007 to permit an issuing authority to delay imposition of sentence in order to investigate a defendant’s eligibility for intermediate punishment. For example, under 42 Pa.C.S. §  9763 and §  9804, defendants may be sentenced to intermediate punishment for certain offenses, including summary violations of 75 Pa.C.S. §  1543(b) (driving while license is under a DUI-related suspension) but only if they meet certain eligibility requirements, such as undergoing a drug and alcohol assessment. Often this information will not be available to the issuing authority at the time of sentencing, especially when the defendant appears personally to enter a guilty plea.

   When the defendant was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense and is charged with a summary offense that would otherwise carry a mandatory sentence of imprisonment as prescribed by statute, the issuing authority is required to conduct the summary trial but may not sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment. See 42 Pa.C.S. § §  6302 and 6303 and 75 Pa.C.S. §  6303(b).

   See Rule 454(F) for the information that must be included in the sentencing order when restitution is included in the sentence.

   For the procedure upon default in payment of the fine or costs, see Rule 456.

   For appeal procedures in summary cases, see Rules 460, 461, and 462.

   For arrest warrant procedures, see Rules 430 and 431.

   Concerning the appointment or waiver of counsel, see Rules 121 and 122.

   Official Note

   Previous rule, originally numbered Rule 136, adopted January 31, 1970, effective May 1, 1970; renumbered Rule 64 September 18, 1973, effective January 1, 1974; rescinded July 12, 1985, effective January 1, 1986, and replaced by present Rule 84. Present Rule 64 adopted July 12, 1985, effective January 1, 1986; amended September 23, 1985, effective January 1, 1986. The January 1, 1986 effective dates all are extended to July 1, 1986; amended May 28, 1987, effective July 1, 1987; amended January 31, 1991, effective July 1, 1991; renumbered Rule 414 and amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001; Comment revised August 7, 2003, effective July 1, 2004; amended January 26, 2007, effective February 1, 2008; Comment revised July 17, 2013, effective August 17, 2013; Comment revised March 9, 2016, effective July 1, 2016.

   Committee Explanatory Reports:

   Report explaining the January 31, 1991 amendments published at 20 Pa.B. 4788 (September 15, 1990); Supplemental Report published at 21 Pa.B. 621 (February 16, 1991).

   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 7, 2002 new Comment language concerning defendants under the age of 18 published with the Court’s Order at 33 Pa.B. 4293 (August 30, 2003).

   Final Report explaining the January 26, 2007 amendments to paragraphs (A)(2), (B)(3), and (C)(4) published with the Court’s Order at 37 Pa.B. 760 (February 17, 2007).

   Final Report explaining the July 17, 2013 Comment revision concerning mandatory incarceration offenses and juveniles published with the Court’s Order at 43 Pa.B. 4325 (August 3, 2013).

   Final Report explaining the March 9, 2016 Comment revision concerning the Rule 454 restitution procedures published with the Court’s Order at 46 Pa.B. 1540 (March 26, 2016).


   The provisions of this Rule 414 amended August 11, 2003, effective July 1, 2004, 33 Pa.B. 4289; amended January 16, 2007, effective February 1, 2008, 37 Pa.B. 752; amended July 17, 2013, effective August 17, 2013, 43 Pa.B. 4323; amended March 9, 2016, effective July 1, 2016, 46 Pa.B. 1532. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (326481) to (326482) and (368073) to (368074).

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