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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ALAN SCOTT HULL (06/25/80)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: June 25, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
ALAN SCOTT HULL, APPELLEE

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Alan Scott Hull, Trust Book 44, Page 89.

COUNSEL

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Attorney General, with him Regis J. McCoy and John L. Heaton, Assistant Attorneys General, Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, Gerald Gornish, Acting Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellant.

James F. Heinly, Morgan, Hallgren & Heinly, for appellee.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 335]

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County sustaining an appeal from a one-year license suspension effected under Section 618(a)(2) of The Vehicle Code (Code), Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, as amended, Page 336} formerly 75 P.S. ยง 618(a)(2),*fn1 repealed by the Act of June 17, 1976, P.L. 162. We reverse.

Appellee, Alan Scott Hull, entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of Theft of Movable Property by Unlawful Taking or Disposition*fn2 on January 25, 1977. The Lancaster County Clerk of Courts forwarded a certified record of the conviction to the Bureau of Traffic Safety, and appellee was notified of the suspension of his driving privilege. The instant suspension was the subject of a de novo hearing before the common pleas court on July 25, 1977.

The following findings of the lower court concisely summarize the pertinent facts surrounding the misdemeanor violation:

1. Alan Scott Hull was a passenger in a motor vehicle owned and operated by another person on the evening of October 28, 1976.

2. Alan Scott Hull exited from this motor vehicle when it stopped at the stop sign and took a camera from another vehicle which was parked along Landis Drive which is located in the City of Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

3. After taking the camera from the seat of the unlocked truck which was parked on Landis Drive, Alan Scott Hull got back into Mr. Miley's car which then proceeded to drive away.

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 337]

These facts are clear and uncontested. The trial court then went on to make what was characterized as a fourth finding of fact:

The vehicle operated by Mr. Miley*fn3 is not found to be an integral element in the commission of the crime of theft of the camera by Alan Scott Hull.

This is not a finding of fact but rather a conclusion of law not supported by the findings of fact.

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 338]

"[T]he essential question here [is] not . . . whether or not the 'offense could have occurred without the use of an automobile,' but whether or not the automobile was an integral element in, and contributed in some reasonable degree to, the commission of the crime." Commonwealth v. Critchfield, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 349, 353, 305 A.2d 748, 750 (1973). In light of the fact the vehicle served to transport appellee to and from the crime scene, it was, as a matter of law, used in the commission of the crime. As this Court suggested in Department of Transportation v. Bechtel, 5 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 621, 625, 290 A.2d 713, 715 (1972), "the use of a 'getaway car' before or after a burglary would be an obvious integral part of a . . . crime." See also Olin v. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 175, 331 A.2d 575 (1975). This Court recently sustained a suspension under Section 618(a)(2) of the Code where the evidence showed a vehicle had been used as the "get to" vehicle. Department Page 338} of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Duffy, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 528, 384 A.2d 287 (1978).

Accordingly, we will enter the following

Order

And Now, June 25, 1980, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Trust Book 44 page 89, dated July 25, 1977, is hereby reversed and the order of suspension in the above-captioned case is hereby reinstated.

Disposition

Reversed. Suspension order reinstated.


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