No. 00728 Philadelphia 1984, APPEAL FROM THE ORDER ENTERED FEBRUARY 6, 1984 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LUZERNE COUNTY, CRIMINAL NO. 1400 OF 1983
Joseph Giebus, Assistant District Attorney, Wilkes-Barre, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Thomas Hanlon, Scranton, for appellee.
McEwen, Cirillo and Hester, JJ.
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"A statute of limitations instead of being viewed in an unfavorable light as an unjust and discreditable defense, should have received such support from courts of justice as would have made it, what it was intended emphatically to be, a statute of repose." Bell v. Morrison, 26 U.S. (1 Pet.) 349, 360, 7 L.Ed. 174 (1828).
The Commonwealth appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County dismissing a conspiracy
[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 97]
to commit arson charge against appellee Casper Guimento. We affirm.
On July 5, 1983, appellee was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit arson. 18 Pa.C.S. § 903. The criminal information lodged against Guimento showed the offense date as November 22, 1978 to December 1, 1978. At the time of the alleged offense, the statute of limitations for the crime of conspiracy to commit arson was two years. Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 586, § 2, amended by Act of Oct. 5, 1980, P.L. 693, § 206(a). Therefore, as of December 1, 1980, the two-year statute of limitations had run on this charge. In 1982, however, the limitations period for the crime of conspiracy to commit arson was extended to five years. 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(b)(3).*fn1
On the basis of the two-year statute of limitations and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling in Commonwealth v. Askin, 502 Pa. 575, 467 A.2d 820 (1983), the trial court dismissed the charge against appellee.*fn2
We are asked to determine whether the legislature can enact a law which extends an existing statute of limitation so as to revive a case in which the statutory period has already ...