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COMMONWEALTH v. DIXON (12/01/75)

decided: December 1, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DIXON, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Nov. T., 1973, No. 6818A, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Bernard Dixon.

COUNSEL

John R. Cook, Trial Defender, John J. Dean, Chief, Appellate Division, and Ralph J. Cappy, Public Defender, for appellant.

Robert L. Eberhardt, Assistant District Attorney, John M. Tighe, First Assistant District Attorney, and John J. Hickton, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Van der Voort, J. Spaeth, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Van Der Voort

[ 237 Pa. Super. Page 526]

On October 24, 1972, appellant Bernard Dixon, assigned to the Ile Elegbra Community Treatment Center after a conviction for robbery and receiving stolen goods, decided that he "didn't want to stay there any more," and left. On August 25, 1973, appellant was nearly apprehended in the revolving doors of Kaufmann's Department Store in Pittsburgh while attempting to remove $177 worth of women's clothing from the store. A coat dropped by the fleeing Dixon contained not only the women's clothing, but also a tag with the name "Bernard Dixon" on it. Appellant was arrested on October 1, 1973; on January 25, 1974, he pled guilty to charges of theft and prison breach, and was sentenced to a term of 3 1/2 months to 3 years for prison breach. Sentence was suspended on the charge of theft. Following the refusal of the lower court to permit appellant to withdraw his guilty plea, appeal was taken to this Court.

[ 237 Pa. Super. Page 527]

Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 319(a) specifies that a judge shall not accept a plea of guilty unless he determines after an on-the-record inquiry of the defendant that the plea was voluntarily and understandingly tendered. Before our Supreme Court decided Commonwealth v. Ingram, 455 Pa. 198, 316 A.2d 77 (1974), it was less than clear what type of inquiry was required under this rule before a trial judge could accept a guilty plea. It was required, however, that a factual basis for the plea be demonstrated, and that the defendant understand the nature of the charges against him. See Commonwealth v. Campbell, 451 Pa. 465, 304 A.2d 121 (1973); Commonwealth v. Jackson, 450 Pa. 417, 299 A.2d 209 (1973); Commonwealth v. Maddox, 450 Pa. 406, 300 A.2d 503 (1973); Commonwealth v. Kearse, 233 Pa. Superior Ct. 489, 491-492, 334 A.2d 720, 721-722 (1975). In the case before us, the entire colloquy which took place before the lower court accepted the guilty plea went as follows:

"By Mr. Cohen (to the Defendant):

Q. You are Bernard Dixon?

A. Yes.

Q. How old are ...


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