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COMMONWEALTH v. STRICKLAND (10/16/74)

October 16, 1974

COMMONWEALTH
v.
STRICKLAND, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 324, Jan. T., 1973, from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, May T., 1971, No. 1184, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles Strickland. Judgment of sentence vacated and case remanded.

COUNSEL

A. Benjamin Johnson, Jr., for appellant.

John H. Isom, Assistant District Attorney, with him David Richman, Assistant District Attorney, Abraham J. Gafni, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Eagen, O'brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 457 Pa. Page 632]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS.

Appellant, Charles Strickland, age 19, was convicted by a jury of murder in the first degree. After denial of appellant's post-trial motions, appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. This appeal followed.*fn1 We vacate and remand.

At trial appellant sought to have certain evidence suppressed as unconstitutionally seized.*fn2 The trial court ruled that appellant lacked standing to contest the search, and therefore did not decide the Fourth Amendment issues. Appellant challenges the trial court's conclusion that he lacked standing to question the legality of the search.*fn3

At a suppression hearing conducted to determine the admissibility of the evidence in question, appellant testified that at the time of his arrest he maintained two residences. He related that during the week he lived with his grandmother at 707 East Jessup Street, Philadelphia, the searched premises, because of that location's proximity to his place of employment. He also stated that he spent weekends with his mother who lived at 5049 Hatfield Street, Philadelphia. Appellant contends he is protected by the Fourth Amendment at the searched premises due to his regular use of that residence.

The suppression court made no finding as to the credibility of appellant's claim to be a weekday resident at 707 East Jessup Street. The court apparently assumed that one is entitled to the protection of the Fourth Amendment only at one's principal residence. Relying upon the fact that appellant had given as his address 5049 Hatfield Street both when he was arrested and when he made his formal statement, the court decided that appellant's principal residence was

[ 457 Pa. Page 634]

    not the East Jessup Street address. The court reasoned that appellant was merely a "temporary guest" there, and thus lacked standing to challenge the search.

To conclude, as did the trial court, that one is protected by the Fourth Amendment at only his principal home is directly contrary to the rationale of Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 88 S. Ct. 507 (1967), and numerous holdings of federal and state courts. The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly held that the Fourth Amendment does not protect particular places, but instead assures an individual that he will be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion into zones where he has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Combs v. United States, 408 U.S. ...


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