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COMMONWEALTH v. RICCARDI (11/11/71)

decided: November 11, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
RICCARDI, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, April T., 1970, No. 129, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Anthony Riccardi.

COUNSEL

Leon Rosenfield, with him Vincent A. Cirillo and Lewis S. Small, for appellant.

Stewart J. Greenleaf, Assistant District Attorney, with him William T. Nicholas, First Assistant District Attorney, and Milton O. Moss, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Wright, P. J., and Watkins, J., would affirm on the opinion of the court below.

Author: Hoffman

[ 220 Pa. Super. Page 73]

Appellant was tried and found guilty of receiving stolen goods and violating the Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act. Prior to his trial, appellant's application to suppress evidence was dismissed. Appellant's post-trial motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial were denied. This appeal followed.

Appellant contends that his convictions should be reversed because the physical evidence upon which both convictions were based was obtained as a result of an unconstitutional search and seizure.

The facts found by the lower court are as follows:

About 7:40 p.m., on January 30, 1970, pursuant to a valid search warrant, Detective Hansley and several other officers of the Lansdale Borough Police Department sought to obtain entrance to an apartment leased by appellant's girl friend. The officers enlisted the aid of the apartment building superintendent and arranged themselves on both sides of the apartment door so as

[ 220 Pa. Super. Page 74]

    not to be visible to anyone looking through the peephole from within the apartment. The superintendent, tool kit in hand, called out "maintenance man" as he knocked on the door. Appellant partially opened the door. The police, with Hansley in the lead converged from both sides and forced their way through the door. Appellant attempted to close the door as the officers entered, but his resistance was overcome. After the police initiated their forcing of the door, Hansley announced to appellant that they were police armed with a search warrant.

The search revealed allegedly stolen baked goods and several packets of the drug methamphetamine hydrochloride on appellant's person. This evidence was introduced by the Commonwealth at appellant's trial.

It is settled in this Commonwealth that the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures requires that a police officer give notice of his identity and announce his purpose before forcibly entering upon private premises to conduct a search or make an arrest. Commonwealth v. DeMichel, 442 Pa. 553, 277 A.2d 159 (1971). "The purpose of this announcement rule is that '. . . the dignity and privacy protected by the fourth amendment demand a certain propriety on the part of policemen even after they have been authorized to invade an individual's privacy. Regardless of how great the probable cause to believe a man guilty of a crime, he must be given a reasonable opportunity to surrender his privacy ...


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