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Commonwealth v. Diggs

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

October 19, 2017

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
TAYQUINE DIGGS Appellant

         Appeal from the Order October 2, 2015 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): MC-51-CR-0000390-2013

          BEFORE: PANELLA, J., SHOGAN, J., and RANSOM, J.

          OPINION

          RANSOM, J.

         Appellant, Tayquine Diggs, appeals from the order entered October 2, 2015, denying his motion to dismiss, which asserted a violation of Pennsylvania's compulsory joinder rule. See 18 Pa.C.S. § 110. After careful review, we remand with instructions.

         We derive the following statement of facts and procedural background of this case from the trial court opinion. In January 2013, Appellant was arrested in the City and County of Philadelphia.[1] At that time, Appellant was charged with driving under the influence ("DUI") and simultaneously charged with the summary traffic offenses of driving while operating privilege is suspended and driving without required lighting.[2] In March 2013, Appellant was found guilty of both traffic offenses in the Traffic Court of Philadelphia. The remaining charge was listed in the Philadelphia Municipal Court for disposition.

         At a court listing in May 2015, Appellant moved to dismiss the DUI charge pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 110, known as the compulsory joinder rule.[3]Following a hearing, the Honorable Joyce Eubanks denied Appellant's motion to dismiss. However, no findings of fact, conclusions of law, or findings as to frivolousness were entered on the record. Municipal Court Notes of Testimony (N.T.), 5/28/2015 at 3-13.[4] Appellant timely filed a petition to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, seeking a writ of certiorari. Thereafter, the Court of Common Pleas denied the petition.[5]

         Appellant timely filed a notice of appeal in this Court. Appellant filed a court-ordered 1925(b) statement wherein he claimed that the Court of Common Pleas erred in denying the writ of certiorari and that this matter should have been dismissed pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 110. The court filed a responsive opinion in July 2016.

         Appellant raises the following claim for our review:

1. Did not the lower court err in denying [A]ppellant's motion to dismiss pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 110 where [A]ppellant had previously been convicted of an offense which arose from the same criminal episode as the offense in the instant case?

Appellant's Brief, at 3.

         As an initial matter, we must determine whether this Court has jurisdiction over the instant appeal. Issues of jurisdiction may be raised sua sponte. Commonwealth v. Taylor, 120 A.3d 1017, 1021 (Pa. Super. 2015).

         An order denying a pretrial motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds is appealable as a collateral order.[6] See Commonwealth v. Brady, 508 A.2d 286, 289-91 (1986) (holding that an immediate appeal from the denial of a double jeopardy claim is allowable under the collateral order doctrine where the trial court does not make a finding of frivolousness). Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 587(B) governs motions to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds and provides in relevant part:

(1) A motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds shall state specifically and with particularity the basis for the claim of double jeopardy and the facts that support the claim.
(2) A hearing on the motion shall be scheduled in accordance with Rule 577 (Procedures Following Filing of Motion). The hearing shall be ...

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