COM. v. HARVEY
374 Pa.Super. 289 (1988)
542 A.2d 1027
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Benjamin HARVEY, Appellant.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Filed June 1, 1988.
Deborah Fleisher, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Com., appellee.
Before CIRILLO, President Judge, and CAVANAUGH, ROWLEY, WIEAND, McEWEN, OLSZEWSKI, BECK, TAMILIA and POPOVICH, JJ.
This is an appeal from a judgment of sentence of four to ten years imprisonment imposed following appellant's conviction by a jury of rape. The primary
Between 1976 and July 1981, appellant lived with his girlfriend and the girlfriend's daughter, the victim herein. On numerous occasions during the period that appellant lived with the victim, and ending in May or July of 1981 when the victim was eleven years old, the appellant had sexual intercourse with the victim. At this time a two-year statute of limitations for rape was in effect, thereby requiring the prosecution to be commenced no later than July, 1983. 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(a). However, effective July, 1982, before the two year period expired, the period within which a prosecution for rape had to be commenced was lengthened to five years. 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(b). In May, 1984, after the two-year period had expired, but still within the five year period, the police were first notified of the crime and appellant was charged with rape, statutory rape, corruption of minors, and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. He was subsequently acquitted by a jury of the involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charge, but found guilty of all the other charges.
Appellant filed timely post-trial motions, and new counsel was appointed to pursue claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Consequently, amended post-trial motions were filed, and an evidentiary hearing on the ineffective assistance of counsel issues was held. Thereafter, the trial court granted an arrest of judgment as to the statutory rape and corruption of minors convictions, but denied the remaining post-trial motions. Following sentencing, appellant brought the instant appeal.
On appeal, appellant argues that the prosecution for rape was barred by the two-year statute of limitations for rape in effect when the rape occurred despite the enactment, after the rape was committed but before the two year statute of limitations expired, of a new five year statute of limitations within which the present action was commenced.
In Baysore, as in the present case, a two year statute of limitations was in effect on the date the crime was committed. 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(a). However, in both cases, before commencement of the prosecution was barred by expiration of the two year period of limitations, the legislature amended the statute of limitations to provide for a five year period of limitations. Act of May 13, 1982, P.L. 417, No. 122 § 1 [current version at 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(b)] (hereafter, Act 122). This amendment did not state whether it was to be applied retroactively, but simply provided that it was to become effective in 60 days. Act 122 provided in relevant part that "a prosecution for [rape] must be commenced within five years after it is committed."
The panel in Baysore noted that the statute itself was silent as to its retroactive application. However, the court also observed that in at least one other statute, the legislature had expressly provided for retroactive application by stating this Act "shall take effect immediately and shall be retroactive to. . . ." See: Act of December 20, 1982, P.L. 1409, No. 326, § 404. Relying upon the statutory rule of construction that a statute shall not be given retroactive application unless "clearly and manifestly so intended by the General Assembly,", 1 Pa.C.S. § 1926, the panel in Baysore held that the legislature did not clearly and manifestly intend for Act 122 to be applied retroactively to crimes occurring before its enactment.
In the present case, the precise terms of the five year statute of limitations are that "a prosecution for [rape] must be commenced within five years after it is committed." Act 122. Thus, by the express terms of the statute, the action or thing to which the new five year period applies is the commencement of a prosecution. The Act addresses the validity of prosecutions commenced after its effective
This interpretation is in accord with the rule of construction codified in 1 Pa.C.S. § 1975. Section 1975 applies specifically to statutes of limitation, unlike the rule of construction codified at 1 Pa.C.S. § 1926 and relied upon by the court in Baysore. It provides that when a new period of limitations is enacted, and the prior period of limitations has not yet expired, in the absence of language in the statute to the contrary, the period of time accruing under the prior statute of limitations shall be applied to calculation of the new period of limitations. Applying § 1975 to the present case simply means that the time from when the rape occurred in May or July, 1981, until Act 122 became effective in July 1982, shall be included in computing the five year period in which the action had to be commenced. Nowhere does § 1975 suggest that this provision for tacking on time accrued under a prior period of limitations should be considered as a retroactive application of a new statute of limitations. Rather, it applies to all statutes of limitation, regardless of whether they are to be applied retroactively, unless there is express language in the statute making § 1975 inapplicable.
Moreover, our interpretation of Act 122, that it applies prospectively to all prosecutions not yet commenced in which the Commonwealth's right to commence the prosecution has not yet expired, is further supported by the language of a subsequent amendment to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(b). By Act of December 20, 1982, P.L. 1409, No. 326 § 403 (hereafter, Act 326), the legislature provided:
The language of Act 326 clearly makes that amendment to the statute of limitations applicable not to all prosecutions commenced after its effective date, but only to prosecutions for crimes committed after its effective date. This language demonstrates that the legislature knew how to distinguish between addressing the validity of a prosecution commenced at a particular time, and providing for the protection of crimes committed after a particular time. Had the legislature in Act 122 provided for the protection of those committing crimes after a particular date, then for the Act to be applicable on the facts of the present case would require a retroactive application. However, such is not the case here.
That the legislature has the authority to promulgate a statute of limitations applicable only to the commencement of prosecutions and thereby increase the period during which the prosecution may be commenced after the crime has been committed is beyond cavil. As early as 1881, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated:
Commonwealth v. Duffy, 96 Pa. 506, 514 (1881).
Furthermore, as noted by appellant, this case is distinguishable from those cases in which the prior statute of limitations has run before the new statute of limitations becomes effective. Case law is clear that in those situations, the cause of action has expired, and the new statute of limitations cannot serve to revive it. See Redenz by Redenz v. Rosenberg,
For the reasons set forth in the forgoing opinion, we hold that by its own terms, Act 122 applies prospectively to any prosecution commenced after its effective date on a cause of action which has not already expired regardless of whether the crime for which the prosecution is commenced occurred prior to or after the effective date of the Act. To the extent that Baysore holds that Act 122 does not apply to prosecutions for crimes occurring prior to the effective date of the Act, and to the extent that it holds that application of the Act to prosecutions for crimes occurring prior to the effective date of the Act would be a retroactive application of the Act, Baysore is overruled.
In the present case, therefore, the commencement in 1984 of the prosecution of appellant for a rape occurring in 1981 was within the applicable five year statute of limitations.
Judgement of Sentence affirmed.
McEWEN, J., files a dissenting opinion.
TAMILIA, J., files a dissenting statement.
McEWEN, Judge, dissenting:
The view of the majority is presented in such thoughtful fashion and has been so readily embraced by all of my colleagues that I am hesitant to offer a differing view. Moreover, one must be slow to undertake an inquiry that will enable a culprit to evade a reckoning.
There can be no disagreement with the statement of the majority that the legislature possesses the power and the authority to promulgate a new statute of limitations applicable to offenses committed prior to the effective date of the new statute. Nor can there be disagreement that application of the new five year statute of limitations to the instant prosecution would not violate the prohibition against ex post facto laws. Cf. Commonwealth v. Guimento,
The issue presented by this appeal, however, is whether the legislature intended the Act of May 13, 1982, P.L. 417, No. 122, § 1, (hereinafter "Act 122") to apply to crimes committed prior to July of 1982. Act 122 itself does not contain an explicit expression of the intention of the legislature concerning the applicability of the statute to crimes committed before its effective date. Section 1926 of the Statutory Construction Act, however, provides that "no statute shall be construed to be retroactive unless clearly and manifestly so intended by the General Assembly." 1 Pa.C.S. § 1926. Our Supreme Court has also held that "[s]tatutes of limitations are of course liberally construed in favor of the defendant and against the Commonwealth." Commonwealth v. Cardonick,
As logical as this analysis may appear, it causes one to ask, if the application of Act 122 to a crime committed prior to its effective date is a prospective application of the statute, what would ever constitute a retroactive application of a statute of limitations?
The issue of whether the application of a particular statute is retroactive or prospective is not easily resolved. The same general assembly which amended 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(b) by Act 122 again amended Section 5552(b) some seven months later, and provided for a new, five year statute of limitations for offenses arising under the Public Welfare Code, 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(b)(4). See: Act of December 20, 1982, P.L. 1409, No. 326, Art. II, § 201 (hereinafter "Act 326"). In Section 403 of Act 326, the legislature expressly provided that the new statute of limitations would "apply only to causes of action which accrue after the effective date of this act." Section 403 of Act 326 provides for what I suggest is a truely prospective application of a new statute of limitations.
Commonwealth v. Story, supra, 497 Pa. at 276, 440 A.2d at 489. (Opinion by Justice Roberts, joined by Chief Justice O'Brien and Justice Wilkinson).
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in United States v. Richardson,
United States v. Richardson, supra, 512 F.2d at 106.
I, therefore, would find that Commonwealth v. Baysore,
TAMILIA, Judge, dissenting:
I respectfully dissent from the majority's decision and join the dissent by McEwen, J. as I believe it is more persuasive on the issue of retroactivity of a criminal offense. I am further persuaded in this view by the fact that the Supreme Court had an opportunity to review this issue when it considered Commonwealth v. Baysore,
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