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Commonwealth v. Cahill

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 24, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
JOHN M. CAHILL, JR., Appellant

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of March 11, 2013. In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division at No.: CP-51-SA-0000638-2013. Before PATRICK, J.

John M. Cahill, Jr., appellant, pro se.

Hugh J. Burns, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., WECHT, J., and STRASSBURGER, J.[*]

OPINION

Page 299

WECHT, J.:

In this case, we confront the heretofore unanswered question of whether a token is a ticket. We do so for the purpose of reviewing appellant John Cahill's conviction for the summary offense of unauthorized sale or transfer of tickets--disposition by passenger, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6910(b). For the reasons that follow, we must conclude that a token is not a ticket. Consequently, we vacate Cahill's March 11, 2013 judgment of sentence, which was imposed after he was convicted under subsection 6910(b) for attempting to sell tokens.

On November 2, 2012, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (" SEPTA" ) police officer Lynn Perrone was patrolling the Margaret Orthodox SEPTA Station in full uniform. At approximately 2:50 p.m., Officer Perrone descended the westbound stairwell of that station and observed Cahill asking passersby if they wanted to buy SEPTA tokens. Knowing that only SEPTA employees were permitted to sell such tokens, Officer Perrone approached Cahill and informed him that he was not permitted to sell the tokens. Officer Perrone then instructed Cahill to leave the vicinity. When Cahill disobeyed the command to leave, Officer Perrone asked Cahill for his identification, which he refused to provide. Officer Perrone then placed Cahill in custody and patted him down. During the pat-down, Officer Perrone located Cahill's identification card as well as a pint-sized bottle of liquor. Officer Perrone issued a citation to Cahill, charging him with the unauthorized sale of tickets and a violation of Philadelphia Ordinance 10-604, which prohibits carrying open alcoholic containers in the public right-of-way.

On January 11, 2013, Cahill was convicted, in absentia, of both charges in the Philadelphia Municipal Court. On February 11, 2013, Cahill filed a summary appeal. A de novo summary trial was scheduled for March 11, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. On that date, Cahill filed a pro se motion to suppress the physical evidence seized as a result of his detention, which Cahill averred had violated his constitutional rights because the stop allegedly lacked probable cause. On that same date, the trial court held a hearing on the suppression motion, during which only Officer

Page 300

Perrone testified. After the hearing, the trial court denied Cahill's motion. The parties proceeded directly to a de novo trial, which was based in large part on the testimony incorporated into the trial from the suppression hearing. However, Cahill conducted additional cross-examination of Officer Perrone, during which Officer Perrone admitted that the items that Cahill was attempting to sell were tokens, not tickets.

At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court convicted Cahill of unauthorized sale of tickets, but acquitted him of the alcohol ordinance charge. Cahill was assessed a $300 fine and court costs.

On April 10, 2013, Cahill filed a pro se notice of appeal. On April 15, 2013, the trial court directed Cahill to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b). Cahill timely complied. On July 9, 2013, ...


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