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Commonwealth v. Riding

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 11, 2013

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Appellant
v.
NICHOLAS S. RIDING Appellee

Appeal from the Order August 20, 2010 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0007070-2010

BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., BOWES, J., GANTMAN, J., PANELLA, J., SHOGAN, J., LAZARUS, J., MUNDY, J., and OTT, J.

OPINION

OTT, J.

The Commonwealth appeals from the order, entered on August 20, 2010, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, dismissing the charge of providing false information while purchasing a firearm that had been lodged against the defendant, Nicholas S. Riding. The Commonwealth claims the trial court erred in determining the statute of limitations for the crime had expired prior to his arrest. Following a thorough review of the submissions by the parties, certified record, and relevant law, we reverse, reinstate the charge, and remand for trial.

We recite the following summary from the trial court's Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) Opinion:

On February 6th, 2005, Nicholas Riding purchased a Taurus PT 132 handgun, serial number FVB-49757, from the Philadelphia Archery and Gun Shop. Mr. Riding then sold the gun to a man named "Pugh." Pugh had promised Mr. Riding that, if Mr. Riding were to buy a gun for him, he would give Mr. Riding $200 and a bundle of heroin.
On the date of the purchase, the Statute of Limitations on 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(g)(4), a straw purchase of a weapon, was as follows:
(a) General Rule.- Except as otherwise provided … a prosecution for an offense must be commenced within two years after it is committed. ….
(c) Exceptions.- if the period prescribed … has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for:
(1) Any offense a material element of which is either fraud or a breach of fiduciary obligation within one year after discovery of the offense by an aggrieved party or by a person who has a legal duty to represent an aggrieved party and who is himself not a party to the offense, but in no case shall this paragraph extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than three years.

See 42 Pa.C.S. §5552, prior to 2008 amendment.

The gun was recovered on November 18th, 2006, [1] from Shaheed Muhammed, who was arrested after it was determined that he did not have a valid license to carry a firearm. On February 7th, 2007, the original statutory period expired.

On December 16th, 2008 an amendment to the Statute of Limitations was enacted, which stated in relevant part:

(b) Major Offenses.- A prosecution for any of the following offenses must be commenced within five years after it is committed:
(1) Under the following provisions of Title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses):
Section 6111(g)(2) and (4) (relating to sale or transfer of firearms).
(c) Exceptions.- if the period prescribed … has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for:
(4) An offense in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(c) or (g), within one year of its discovery by State or local law enforcement, but in no case shall this paragraph extend the period of ...

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