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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ANTONIO URBINA (08/21/81)

filed: August 21, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ANTONIO URBINA, APPELLANT



No. 1198 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Lancaster County at No. 1818 of 1978.

COUNSEL

Thomas B. Schmidt, III, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Michael H. Ranck, District Attorney, submitted a brief on behalf of Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, Brosky and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Spaeth

[ 290 Pa. Super. Page 118]

This is an appeal from a judgment of sentence for unlawful restraint*fn1 and robbery.*fn2 The principal issue, as we see it, is whether appellant was arrested without probable cause. We have concluded that there was probable cause, and affirm.*fn3

[ 290 Pa. Super. Page 119]

Appellant was arrested for committing an armed robbery at the Weis market in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. Officer Robert A. Herman, Jr., the East Hempfield Township police officer who arrested appellant, relied on two sources of information: a radio broadcast from the Lancaster County Radio Dispatcher, and Kearney Sherr, the owner of a service station approximately one block from the Weis market. At 7:37 A.M. on October 28, 1978, while at the township police station, Officer Herman heard over the police radio a report that there had been an armed robbery at the Weis market. The officer responded to the call by driving to the shopping plaza where the Weis market was located. En route he received information on the police radio describing the robber as a black or Puerto Rican male with a handgun*fn4 who was last seen running from the market to the northeast corner of the parking lot in the shopping plaza. The officer drove to this corner and conducted an on-foot search of the area. Finding nothing, he returned to his police car, where he heard over the radio that an individual from a service station near the Weis market was traveling east on Columbia Avenue in pursuit of a small white foreign automobile with out-of-state license tags. Proceeding east on Columbia Avenue, the officer encountered traffic caused by an unrelated automobile accident.

[ 290 Pa. Super. Page 120]

At the scene of this accident he was approached by Kearney Sherr, who was the service station owner who had been in pursuit of the white automobile. Sherr told Officer Herman that about 7:45 a. m. he heard a report of the robbery on his police radio scanner; that he went to watch the traffic coming from the parking lot at the Weis market, and saw a white automobile, going at a "fairly good rate of speed," leave a trailer court one half block from his station, between the station and the Weis market; and that he had followed the white automobile to a parking lot in the Conestoga West Apartments in neighboring Manor Township. The officer asked Sherr to take him to the parking lot. When they arrived, Sherr identified an automobile there as the one he had followed. Appellant was at the driver's side, and the officer arrested him; the time of the arrest was approximately 7:51 a. m.

The law is clear that a warrantless arrest is not lawful unless there is probable cause therefor . . . Whether there is probable cause to arrest without a warrant depends on whether, at the moment a suspect is taken into custody, the facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge, and of which he has reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has been committed and that the person to be arrested has committed the offense . . .

Thus, in order to arrest without a warrant, the officer must have a reasonable belief in the probability of criminal activity by the person to be arrested. However, that belief need not be grounded in the officer's direct, personal knowledge of the relevant facts and circumstances. It may, instead, rest solely on information supplied by ...


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