No. 446 October Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, No. 2125 Criminal Division, 1977.
Janet W. Mason, Assistant Public Defender, West Chester, for appellant.
Lee Ruslander, Assistant District Attorney, West Chester, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Price, Wieand and Van der Voort, JJ.*fn*
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 403]
In this appeal, we are asked to decide whether appellant's acquittal on a federal firearms charge bars his subsequent trial in the court of common pleas on state charges arising out of the same incident. For the following reasons we believe it does not, and we consequently affirm the order denying appellant's motion to quash the information.
The path of this litigation, and the factual background of the incident, may be traced as follows. At approximately 11:00 a. m. on January 27, 1977, an individual, later identified as appellant, knocked at the door of the Sarni residence located in North Coventry, Chester County. When Ms. Virginia Cole, an employee of the Sarnis, opened the door, appellant asked her for directions to the home of a Dr. Pentz. While Ms. Cole was responding, appellant pulled open the door and at gunpoint forced her back into the kitchen, where she was handcuffed and made to lie on the floor. While the house was being ransacked, another armed individual entered the kitchen, and Ms. Cole could also hear the voice of a third man in the house during the episode. She later provided police with a description of her assailant and identified appellant's picture from a photographic display. The latter was then apprehended.
On August 17, 1977, an indictment was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania charging appellant with a violation of Title 18 U.S.C.App. § 1202(a)(1) (former felon not to possess firearm).*fn1 Pursuant to a jury trial commenced on November 7, 1977, he was found not guilty of that charge. On September 23, 1977, a complaint was filed against appellant and he was
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 404]
subsequently held for court under the following charges: robbery,*fn2 theft by unlawful taking or disposition,*fn3 terroristic threats,*fn4 recklessly endangering another person,*fn5 simple assault,*fn6 receiving stolen property,*fn7 and criminal conspiracy.*fn8 A jury trial commenced on March 6, 1978, and was terminated in a mistrial eight days later when the jury reported that it was hopelessly deadlocked. Prior to the scheduled retrial, appellant filed on January 5, 1979, an application to quash the information based on an alleged violation of the double jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution. That application was denied, and this appeal followed.
The fifth amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "[n]o person shall . . . be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . ." In Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784, 89 S.Ct. 2056, 23 L.Ed.2d 707 (1969), the United States Supreme Court held that this constitutional protection against double jeopardy was applicable to the states through the fourteenth amendment. Shortly afterward, our supreme court in Commonwealth v. Mills, 447 Pa. 163, 286 A.2d 638 (1971), entered into an extensive analysis of the considerations involved in reconciling the double jeopardy clause with the dual sovereignty doctrine developed in United States v. Lanza, 260 U.S. 377, 43 S.Ct. 141, 67 L.Ed. 314 (1922).*fn9 It there recognized
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 405]
that the disparate interests inherent in these two concepts must be balanced -- on the one side, the interests of the two sovereigns, federal and state, and on the other, the interests of the individual to be free from twice being prosecuted and punished for the same offense. Commonwealth v. Mills, supra, 447 Pa. at 169, 286 A.2d at ...