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COMMONWEALTH v. CRITCHFIELD (06/13/73)

decided: June 13, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
CRITCHFIELD



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Scott L. Critchfield, No. 8 October Term, 1971.

COUNSEL

Stuart A. Liner, Assistant Attorney General, with him Anthony J. Maiorana, Assistant Attorney General, Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellant.

Thomas A. Himler, Jr., John F. Kradel, and Kradel, Weppelman and Himler, for appellee.

Judges Mencer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 350]

Scott L. Critchfield (Critchfield) was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 351]

    of public indecency in violation of Section 519 of The Penal Code, Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, 18 P.S. § 4519.*fn1 The fact of this conviction was reported by the Clerk of Courts of Westmoreland County to the State Bureau of Traffic Safety on a form provided by the Bureau for use when an individual has been convicted of a crime in which a motor vehicle has been used. Thereafter Critchfield's operator's license was suspended for one year pursuant to Section 618(a)(2) of The Vehicle Code, Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, 75 P.S. § 618(a)(2), which provides:

"(a) The secretary may suspend the operating privilege of any person, with or without a hearing before the secretary or his representative, upon receiving a record of proceedings, if any, in which such person pleaded guilty, entered a plea of nolo contendere, or was found guilty by a judge or jury, or whenever the secretary finds upon sufficient evidence:

"(2) That such person has been convicted of a misdemeanor, or has forfeited bail upon such a charge, in the commission of which a motor vehicle or tractor was used."

Critchfield appealed this suspension, under the provisions of Section 620 of The Vehicle Code, 75 P.S. § 620, to the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, which heard the case de novo. The attorney for the Commonwealth placed in the record the certification of Critchfield's conviction received from the Clerk of Courts and rested his case. Critchfield presented no evidence whatever on his own behalf. His attorney argued as a matter of law, however, that Critchfield could not be found to have used his motor vehicle in the commission of a misdemeanor. There was nothing in the

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 352]

    record at all to indicate what the actual circumstances of the crime were, including what use, if any, was made of the motor vehicle. The form submitted by the Clerk of Courts merely stated that Critchfield was convicted of public indecency, and the only indication deducible therefrom that a motor vehicle was used in the crime was that the form itself is the one prescribed for use by the Clerk of Courts in cases where a motor vehicle is used in the commission of a misdemeanor. Nor have the briefs filed by the parties in this appeal shed any further light on this matter. The lower court, however, sustained Critchfield's appeal and restored his operating privileges. Its short opinion and order, in which no findings of fact were included, stated, inter alia : "At the hearing held this Court, after ...


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