No. 716 April Term, 1976, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, dated March 25, 1976, at Criminal Action No. 762 of 1975. (Criminal Division)
Simon B. John, Assistant Public Defender, Uniontown, for appellant.
Conrad B. Capuzzi, District Attorney, Uniontown, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Spaeth, J., concurs in the result. Watkins, former President Judge did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
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The instant appeal arises from appellant's plea of guilty to robbery for which appellant was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two to five years. Appellant claims that the lower court erred in not permitting him to withdraw his plea prior to sentencing.*fn1 We agree and will reverse and remand for a new trial.*fn2
The facts upon which the robbery charge rest developed while appellant and the victim were drinking companions. During the course of their drinking alcoholic beverages appellant took money from the victim which the victim had kept in his shoes. Essentially on these facts the Commonwealth and appellant agreed to a plea bargain. In return for a plea of guilty to the lesser offense of larceny the Commonwealth recommended that appellant receive a sentence of 11 1/2 to 23 months to run concurrently with another sentence he was then serving.*fn3 When the bargain was tendered for the court's approval, the court questioned appellant and the victim concerning the facts of the case. The victim claimed that appellant beat him in the course of taking the money, but appellant denied using force or even threats of force. Nevertheless, the court rejected the plea agreement and gave appellant the requisite option of withdrawing his plea immediately. Pa.R.Crim.P., Rule 319(b)(3). Following a brief consultation with counsel, appellant entered
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a plea of guilty to robbery, after which a colloquy pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P., Rule 319 ensued.
As appellant indicates in his brief, the colloquy was deficient in a variety of respects, but particularly troublesome is the court's failure to describe to any extent the elements of the offense of robbery.*fn4 Commonwealth v. Ingram, 455 Pa. 198, 316 A.2d 77 (1974); Commonwealth v. Eddis, 250 Pa. Super. 344, 378 A.2d 968 (1977). The court merely named the offense, an oversight especially prejudicial herein because, as mentioned above, appellant repeatedly denied having used force or threatening to use force on the victim, claiming that the victim's rib injuries were inflicted at a later time by someone else. In short, appellant denied having committed robbery, which the Crimes Code, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3701 (1973) defines, in pertinent part, as follows:
"(1) A person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:
(i) inflicts serious bodily injury upon another;
(ii) threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate ...