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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SAMUEL HENLEY (03/31/83)

filed: March 31, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
SAMUEL HENLEY



No. 3161 Philadelphia 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at No. 81-08-3115.

COUNSEL

Kenneth S. Gallant, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Burton A. Rose, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Cavanaugh, Rowley and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 312 Pa. Super. Page 565]

This is a Commonwealth appeal from the lower court's sustaining a demurrer to the evidence charging appellee with attempting to receive stolen property because the crime was legally impossible. We find that the legal impossibility defense has been abolished in Pennsylvania and, accordingly, reverse and remand for trial.

On December 22, 1980, the Commonwealth's informant entered appellee's jewelry store and offered to sell appellee

[ 312 Pa. Super. Page 566]

    five gold chains that had been specially coated by law enforcement officials. Appellee, clearly made aware that the chains were stolen, paid the informant $30.00, and requested that the informant bring in any additional stolen items he might have. The transaction was tape-recorded and appellee's hands were found to be covered with the special substance. Following the Commonwealth's presentation of evidence, the lower court granted appellee's demurrer to the charge of attempting to receive stolen property, reasoning that because the chains were in police possession and had, therefore, lost their stolen character, no crime was possible.*fn1 The Commonwealth appeals from that order, alleging that 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 901(b) precludes the lower court's holding.

In construing Pennsylvania's statutes, "the object of all interpretation . . . is to ascertain and effectuate the intention of the General Assembly." 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1921(a). "Where provisions of a statute appear ambiguous or inconsistent, the intention of the legislature may be determined by examining the occasion, reason or necessity of the law." Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. State College Area School District 1, 461 Pa. 494, 502, 337 A.2d 262, 266 (1975). See 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1921(c); Commonwealth v. Barone, 276 Pa. Superior Ct. 282, 293, 419 A.2d 457, 463 (1980). In addition, any former law on the same or a similar topic and the "consequences of a particular interpretation" may be considered. 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1921(c)(5) and (6).

Section 901 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code reads as follows:

(a) Definition of attempt -- A person commits an attempt when, with intent to ...


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