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Commonwealth v. Goslin

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 16, 2017

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ANDREW JOSIAH GOSLIN, Appellant

         Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence June 2, 2015 In the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County Criminal Division No(s): CP-36-CR-0005761-2014

          BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., BOWES, PANELLA, LAZARUS, OTT, STABILE, DUBOW, MOULTON, and RANSOM, JJ.

          OPINION

          DUBOW, J.

Appellant, Andrew Josiah Goslin, appeals from the Judgment of Sentence entered in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas on June 2, 2015. Following a bench trial, the trial court convicted Appellant of one count of Possession of Weapon on School Property, a first-degree misdemeanor. 18 Pa.C.S. § 912(b). After reviewing the record and applicable law, we vacate Appellant's Judgment of Sentence and order a new trial on the ground that the trial court erred in not properly interpreting and applying the plain language of the statutory defense to Possession of Weapon on School Property. 18 Pa.C.S. § 912(c).

         Factual and Procedural History

         On August 28, 2014, Appellant's son was suspended from elementary school for three days for bringing a knife to school. On September 4, 2014, at 2:45 PM, Appellant and his wife attended a meeting at the school to discuss the disciplinary action with school administrators. N.T., 6/2/15, at 19. Appellant arrived at the meeting directly from his job as a carpenter. N.T. at 29-31.

         When Appellant arrived at the conference, he had in his pocket a 3-4 inch pocketknife that he uses not only at work as a carpenter, but also to sharpen pencils, whittle sticks with his sons, and "open tuna cans when my wife forgets to pack me a tuna can opener." Id. at 26, 30-31.

         During the meeting, Appellant removed the knife from his pocket and placed it forcefully on a conference table around which the meeting attendees were seated and asked whether he would be arrested. Id. at 20, 31-32.

         Following the meeting, on September 14, 2014, the police charged Appellant with Possession of Weapon on School Property as well as Terroristic Threats with Intent to Terrorize Another.[1] The trial court dismissed the latter charge on December 9, 2014.

         The court held a bench trial on June 2, 2015 on the charge of Possession of Weapon on School Property and rejected Appellant's defense that he had the pocketknife on school property "for other lawful purpose[s]" because the ostensible lawful purposes were not related to school activities. The trial court found Appellant guilty and sentenced him to one year of probation. Appellant timely appealed.[2] Appellant and the trial court complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.

         Issues on Appeal

         Appellant raises the following issues for review, which we have reordered for ease of disposition:

1. Whether the trial court abused its discretion, committed an error of law, or violated constitutional rights of Appellant by finding that the defense of "other lawful purpose" in 18 Pa.C.S. ยง ...

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