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COMMONWEALTH v. DIXON (04/03/74)

decided: April 3, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DIXON, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Sept. T., 1971, No. 27, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. George H. Dixon, Jr.

COUNSEL

Frederick J. Francis, with him Alexander B. Bunson, and Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, for appellant.

Robert F. Hawk, Assistant District Attorney, with him David L. Cook, Assistant District Attorney, and John H. Brydon, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. (Spaulding, J., absent). Opinion by Jacobs, J.

Author: Jacobs

[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 571]

This appeal presents the issue of whether certain evidence obtained from appellant should have been suppressed.

Appellant was arrested for disorderly conduct on a public road adjoining Slippery Rock State College by a security or campus policeman attached to the college.*fn1 After being handcuffed, the appellant was taken to the campus security office where he was found to be in possession of five tablets which were later analyzed as amphetamines. The disorderly conduct charge was dismissed at the preliminary hearing, but appellant was tried, convicted, and sentenced for violation of The Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act of September 26, 1961, P. L. 1664, § 4(q), 35 P.S. § 780-4(q).

Appellant's only argument on this appeal is that the lower court erred in denying his timely motion to suppress the amphetamine tablets. We agree.

The police had no warrant to search appellant and if in fact a search was made it must be supported as incident to a lawful arrest. Commonwealth v. Hughes, 219 Pa. Superior Ct. 181, 280 A.2d 556 (1971). However, the arrest in this case was unlawful and did not support a search. At trial, the parties stipulated that the alleged offense of disorderly conduct occurred on a road of the Borough of Slippery Rock, off the campus, and that the arresting officer had no jurisdiction in the borough. Such stipulation was apparently in recognition of the fact that the arresting officer was a security or campus policeman whose powers are defined by § 2416 of The Administrative Code of 1929, Act of April 9, 1929, P. L. 177, art. XXIV, § 2416, as amended,

[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 572]

March 28, 1961, P. L. 66, § 2, September 28, 1965, P. L. 553, § 4, and July 7, 1968, P. L. 297, No. 149, § 1, 71 P.S. § 646 (Supp. 1973-74). Section 2416 provides, inter alia : "Security and Campus Police shall exercise their powers and perform their duties only on the premises of the State colleges and universities . . . by or for which they are employed . . . ."

Nevertheless, the lower court refused to suppress the evidence, finding that appellant had voluntarily surrendered the amphetamines to the police. At the start, it must be said that the burden is on the Commonwealth to prove by clear and positive evidence that appellant voluntarily waived his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Commonwealth v. Burgos, 223 Pa. Superior Ct. 325, 299 A.2d 34 (1972). This burden is even heavier when the accused has been placed under arrest. Id. Furthermore, when the defendant has applied for the suppression of evidence under Pa. R. Crim. P. 323, "[t]he Commonwealth shall have the burden of going forward with the evidence and of establishing the admissibility of the challenged evidence."

At the trial, which was before the court without a jury and served both as a suppression hearing and a trial, the Commonwealth attempted to prove that the appellant had emptied his pockets voluntarily at the request of the campus policemen. The arresting officer testified that he asked appellant to empty his pockets on the desk top and among the items taken out by appellant was a small container in which the amphetamines were found. However, defense counsel later asked the arresting officer whether he had said at the preliminary hearing that he (the arresting officer) had emptied the appellant's pockets and that he (the ...


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