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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. EDDIE LEONARD MILLER (10/08/76)

SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: October 8, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
EDDIE LEONARD MILLER, APPELLANT

COUNSEL

Blake E. Martin, Public Defender, Chambersburg, for appellant.

John R. Walker, Dist. Atty., Chambersburg, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.

Author: Eagen

[ 469 Pa. Page 25]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The appellant, Eddie Leonard Miller, was adjudged guilty following a non-jury trial of criminal conspiracy*fn1 and criminal mischief,*fn2 arising out of the felling and destruction of the Snowy Mountain Fire Tower at South Mountain, Franklin County. Post trial motions were filed and denied, and a term of imprisonment was imposed on Miller for the criminal mischief conviction.

[ 469 Pa. Page 26]

Sentence was suspended on the criminal conspiracy conviction and Miller was placed on probation for a period of seven years, said probation to commence upon the expiration of the sentence imposed on the criminal mischief conviction.

An appeal was then filed in the Superior Court which subsequently affirmed the judgments of sentence.*fn3 We granted allocatur, limited to a determination of whether Miller was properly convicted and sentenced for both the crime of criminal conspiracy and the crime of criminal mischief.*fn4

It has long been the law of this Commonwealth that the crime of criminal conspiracy does not merge with the completed offense which was the object of the conspiracy. Commonwealth ex rel. Perry v. Day, 181 Pa. Super. 73, 121 A.2d 904 (1956); Commonwealth v. Dunie, 172 Pa. Super. 444, 94 A.2d 166 (1953); Commonwealth v. Downer, 159 Pa. Super. 626, 49 A.2d 516 (1946); Commonwealth v. Corcoran & Corcoran, 78 Pa. Super. 430 (1922). That is, the law has always considered criminal conspiracy and the completed substantive offense to be separate crimes.*fn5 Miller, while recognizing the current

[ 469 Pa. Page 27]

    status of the law in Pennsylvania, nevertheless contends that the Legislature, by its adoption of the Crimes Code,*fn6 intended to effect a change in the existing law. He argues that the tenor of the Crimes Code evidences a legislative intent to limit multiple prosecutions and convictions of a defendant for conduct which may establish the commission of more than one offense.*fn7

However, even attributing to the Legislature the intent to limit multiple prosecutions and convictions in the manner articulated by Miller, it must be noted that the Crimes Code contains no provision barring the prosecution and conviction of criminal conspiracy when that criminal conspiracy consists only of the conspiracy or preparation to commit another crime for which the defendant stands charged. And no such provision is contained in the Crimes Code despite the fact that the Model Penal Code, upon which the Crimes Code is based, did contain a specific provision mandating the merger of criminal conspiracy into the completed substantive offense. Since statutes are not presumed to make changes

[ 469 Pa. Page 28]

    in the rules and principles of the common law or prior existing law beyond what is expressly declared in their provisions, Rahn v. Hess, 378 Pa. 264, 270, 106 A.2d 461 (1954); Gratz v. Insurance Co. of North America, 282 Pa. 224, 234, 127 A. 620 (1925); Commonwealth v. Hartung, 156 Pa. Super. 176, 39 A.2d 734 (1944), we are constrained to hold that the failure of the Legislature to include, within the Crimes Code, any provision mandating the merger of criminal conspiracy into the completed substantive offense indicates that no change in the existing law was intended.

Moreover, where the Legislature intended to preclude multiple prosecutions and convictions, it manifested this intention clearly and precisely. Cf. Glass v. Bureau of Traffic Safety of Pennsylvania, 460 Pa. 362, 367-368, 333 A.2d 768 (1975). Thus, Section 906 of the Crimes Code*fn8 provides:

"A person may not be convicted of more than one offense defined by this chapter [inchoate crimes] for conduct designed to commit or to culminate in the commission of the same crime."

And Section 3502 of the Crimes Code*fn9 provides:

"(d) Multiple convictions. -- A person may not be convicted both for burglary and for the offense which it was his intent to commit after the burglarous entry or for an attempt to commit that offense, unless the additional offense constitutes a felony of the first or second degree."

In the absence of any similar provision manifesting a legislative intent to preclude prosecution and conviction

[ 469 Pa. Page 29]

    for both criminal conspiracy and the completed substantive offense, we may not impute such an intent to the Legislature.*fn10

Order affirmed.


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