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decided: March 29, 1976.


Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, No. 1902 of 1974, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles Edward Stauffer.


R. S. Trigg and Edward F. Browne, Jr., Assistant Public Defenders, for appellant.

Charles A. Achey, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, and D. Richard Eckman, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Price, J., dissents.

Author: Hoffman

[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 464]

Appellant contends that his sentence for theft was excessive because he was sentenced under § 3903(b)(1) of the Crimes Code,*fn1 rather than under § 3903(b)(2).*fn2

[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 465]

Appellant was indicted for burglary and theft on bill number 1902, 1974, by the Lancaster County Grand Jury. Prior to trial, however, the court dismissed the burglary charge upon application by the prosecutor.*fn3 After two days of testimony on January 27, and 28, 1975, a jury found appellant guilty of theft of a television set. After denial of post-trial motions, the lower court sentenced appellant to pay a fine of $50.00 and to serve a term of imprisonment of nine to eighteen months.

Appellant concedes that he was properly convicted of theft under § 3921(a),*fn4 but contends that he was sentenced under the wrong subsection of the grading of theft offenses statute. Section 3903 provides, inter alia, that:

"(b) . . . Theft not within subsection (a) of this section, constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree, except that if . . .:

"(1) the amount involved was fifty dollars ($50.00) or more but less than two hundred dollars ($200) the offense constitutes a misdemeanor of the second degree; or

"(2) the amount involved was less than fifty dollars ($50) the offense constitutes a misdemeanor of the third degree."*fn5

The statute, as amended on June 17, 1974, places the burden of proving valuation on the Commonwealth. See also, Commonwealth v. McKennion, 235 Pa. Superior Ct. 160, 340 A.2d 889 (1975); Commonwealth v. Kuykendall, 231 Pa. Superior Ct. 457, 331 A.2d 686 (1974). Further, § 3903(c) defines "value" as

[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 466]

"(1) . . . the market value of the property at the time and place of the crime, or if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the crime . . .

"(3) When the value of property cannot be satisfactorily ascertained pursuant to the standards set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (c) its value shall be deemed to be an amount less than fifty dollars ($50) . . . ."

In the instant case, the Commonwealth presented testimony of the complaining witness. She offered no testimony at all concerning the value of her television set. The Commonwealth's only other witness, Detective Herman Simms, gave no evidence concerning valuation on direct examination. The only evidence on the issue was the following exchange which was elicited on cross-examination of Simms on behalf of appellant's co-defendant:

"Q. Now, in your interview on the twenty-fourth of September, 1974, with [appellant's co-defendant], did he tell you how he actually came into possession of this television set?

"A. Yes, he did.

"Q. How did he come into possession?

"A. He told me that he had given Charley Stauffer [appellant] $55.00 to buy drugs. Charley Stauffer bought the drugs as far as he knew and used them and did not turn the drugs over to him, and Charley Stauffer took him back to Janice Kline's house and gave him the television set in payment for the $55.00.

"Q. Now, when he said that he went to Janice Kline's house, did he tell you whether he knew that that was Janice Kline's house or whose house it was?

"A. He didn't care. He wanted $55.00 or something of that value."

Evidence elicited on cross-examination by the Commonwealth can establish one of the essential elements of a crime. Nonetheless, we hold that this evidence simply

[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 467]

    does not conform to the statutory requirement that the Commonwealth prove the value of the stolen goods by proving fair market value at the time and place of the crime, or if that is impossible, by proving replacement cost. Thus, under § 3903(c)(3), the value of the stolen goods can be placed no higher than $50.00. As a result, appellant should have been sentenced under § 3903(b)(2) which makes theft of an item valued at less than $50.00 a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Therefore, we remand the case for resentencing under § 3903(b)(2).


Case remanded.

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