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COMMONWEALTH v. ACOSTA (11/16/73)

decided: November 16, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ACOSTA, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Nos. 667, 668, 787, 788, 1471 and 1757 of 1972, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Jose Angel Acosta.

COUNSEL

Philip M. Cullen, for appellant.

Michael H. Ranck, Assistant District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Watkins, J. Wright, P. J., would affirm the judgment below.

Author: Watkins

[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 89]

This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Lancaster County, after the defendant, Jose Angel Acosta, entered a plea of guilty to a number of indictments.

He pleaded guilty as the result of a plea bargain by his counsel with the District Attorney. He entered a plea on indictments for burglary, larceny, prison breach and conspiracy. He received sentences totaling four to eight years. Two further indictments charging robbery and conspiracy were nolle prossed. A further charge of prison breach was to be returned to the court and by agreement this sentence would run concurrently with the others.

The appellant now contends that his plea was not voluntarily and intelligently made so that he was denied due process of law and so the guilty pleas must be vacated.

It is reversible error for a trial judge to accept a guilty plea without an affirmative showing that the plea was intelligent and voluntary. Boykin v. Alabama,

[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 90395]

U.S. 238, 23 L. ed. 2d 274, 89 S. Ct. 1709 (1969). A conviction based upon a guilty plea not knowingly and intelligently made is invalid. U.S. ex rel. Black v. Russell, 306 F. Supp. 270 (E.D. Pa. 1969), affirmed, 435 F. 2d 546 (3d Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 947 (1971).

Pennsylvania has decided that a trial judge shall not accept a plea of guilty unless he first determines after inquiry of the defendant that the plea is knowingly and intelligently made. Penna. Rules of Criminal Procedure, 319 provides that this determination be made of record.

The only question directed to the defendant regarding his participation in the crimes charged or his rights at the time of trial were: "The Court: You understand that there are four charges here on which you are being sentenced. There isn't any question in your mind that you committed those offenses -- is that right? Appellant: Yes. The Court: Now, if I impose these sentences, you are getting, in my book, a very good arrangement for yourself. I don't want you coming back and saying you didn't understand what ...


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