OPINION BY BOWES, J.:
Dominick William Haynes appeals from the judgment of sentence of twelve to thirty years incarceration after a jury found him guilty of four counts of possession with intent to deliver ("PWID"), two counts of corrupt organizations, and one count of criminal conspiracy and hindering apprehension. After careful review, we vacate the judgment of sentence and remand for resentencing. In all other respects, we affirm.
The relevant facts pertaining to Appellant's issues are as follows. Pennsylvania State Police conducted a warrantless entry into an apartment. Specifically, Trooper Jeffrey Brautigam was conducting surveillance on February 22, 2012, outside the Hawksworth Garden Apartments in Greensburg, Westmoreland County. Approximately one and one-half hour earlier, two other troopers had been surveilling the apartments and witnessed drug sale activity. Those officers followed the buyer and performed a traffic stop. The driver was found with heroin and indicated that he bought the heroin from a woman at the Hawksworth apartments.
Trooper Brautigam, as part of his surveillance, observed a woman exit Building B of the apartments and meet a series of individuals in the parking lot. He indicated that he had seen hundreds of drug transactions transpire and described the woman's interactions with these individuals as drug transactions. Trooper Brautigam testified that the female, later identified as Kristin Weightman, would exit the apartment building and a car would pull into the parking lot. Weightman would then hand something to the driver or passenger and the passenger would hand something to her. The car would then leave, and Weightman would return to the building. This occurred three times.
At the time, Trooper Brautigam also had information that another individual, Chauncy "Gunner" Bray, was in the area with Weightman. Trooper Brautigam knew Bray from past encounters and was
Trooper Brautigam knocked on the door and an individual asked who it was. He responded that he needed to speak to the renter and heard rumbling inside. He then identified himself as the police and asked that someone open the door. Those inside would not answer the door, and, according to Trooper Brautigam, they became quiet. After twenty to thirty seconds, the police kicked open the door. Entry occurred at approximately 12:30 in the afternoon. Bray attempted to flee and toss money away but was captured. Four other males were inside, including Appellant, as were Weightman and McCamley.
Appellant unsuccessfully litigated a suppression motion and proceeded to trial with one other individual, James Moore. A different judge presided over the jury trial. As part of the investigation into the same drug ring, police, on the same day as the apartment raid, conducted a warrant-based search of another apartment rented by a Nicole Dudek. They recovered six bricks of heroin, suboxone, money, and cell phones. Police then called Dudek and informed her of their discovery. She did not turn herself in at that time and stayed with Moore for five days and Appellant for one night. Thereafter, she did turn herself in to the authorities. Additional testimony from several drug addicts indicated that Appellant was involved in the sale of heroin.
The jury found Appellant guilty of the aforementioned charges. The court sentenced Appellant to twelve to thirty years imprisonment, including a mandatory minimum sentence relative to the weight of the drugs involved. The jury was not instructed to make a finding regarding the weight of the drugs. Appellant filed a timely post-sentence motion, which the court denied. This appeal ensued. The trial court and Appellant complied with Rule 1925. Appellant raises four issues for this Court's review.
Appellant's brief at 6.
Appellant's first two claims pertain to the suppression of evidence. In evaluating a suppression ruling, we consider the evidence of the Commonwealth, as the prevailing party below, and any evidence of the defendant that is uncontradicted when examined in the context of the record. Commonwealth v. Sanders, 42 A.3d 325, 330 (Pa.Super.2012). This Court is bound by the factual findings of the suppression court where the record supports those findings and may only reverse when the legal conclusions drawn from those facts are in error. Id.
Appellant argues that the warrantless search of the apartment violated both his Fourth Amendment and Article I, § 8 right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, his main focus is on the Pennsylvania Constitution. In this respect, he maintains that the Pennsylvania charter provides greater protections than the Fourth Amendment. In support, he relies on Commonwealth v. Demshock, 854 A.2d 553 (Pa.Super.2004), and Commonwealth v. Waddell, 61 A.3d 198 (Pa.Super.2012), and distinguishes the United States Supreme Court decision in Kentucky v. King, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 1849, 179 L.Ed.2d 865 (2011).
Ordinarily, law enforcement must obtain a warrant before conducting a search. Commonwealth v. Lagenella, 623 Pa. 434, 83 A.3d 94, 102 (2013). In this respect, warrantless searches are generally presumed unreasonable. Commonwealth v. Taylor, 565 Pa. 140, 771 A.2d 1261, 1266 (2001). Nonetheless, there are exceptions to the warrant requirement, including those situations where probable cause exists in conjunction with exigent circumstances. Commonwealth v. Petroll, 558 Pa. 565, 738 A.2d 993, 999 (1999).
In Demshock, police received complaints of a car theft and vandalism in the area of an apartment complex. A detective was patrolling the area on foot as a result. While doing so, he walked past an apartment and observed through a one-foot vertical blind of a sliding door what appeared to be teenagers drinking beer. Based on this observation, he radioed other officers who were patrolling the complex. While covering the apartment's peep hole, the detective knocked on the door. A person inside asked who it was and the detective said, "hey man, it is me." Demshock, supra at 554. An individual opened the door slightly and looked outside. Upon seeing that it was police, the person stepped back and police pushed the door open and entered. Police then saw marijuana in plain view.
The trial court denied a suppression motion, and Demshock was found guilty of possession of marijuana and underage drinking. This Court reversed on appeal, finding that the entry into the apartment violated the Fourth Amendment. We noted that the detective did not testify that he entered the apartment to prevent the destruction of evidence. See id. at 556. The Demshock panel continued, "Here, the officers observed the illegal activity from outside the premises without the occupants detecting their presence. Under these circumstances, the officers could have made efforts to secure a search warrant and quite possibly could have secured a warrant prior to any of the partygoers realizing that the police were outside." Id. at 557. According to the Demshock Court, if an exigency existed therein, once police
In Waddell, this Court, relying on Demshock, ruled that suppression was warranted on Fourth Amendment grounds where the police created their own exigency by knocking and announcing. The facts in Waddell are as follows. Police in Homestead, Allegheny County, received information from a neighboring police officer that large amounts of marijuana were being sold from a house at 314 West 12th Avenue. Homestead's Chief of Police contacted an informant who confirmed that the house was used to sell narcotics and maintained that there were two black males transporting marijuana from the house. The informant further provided a description of the car. Police stopped the car described by the informant several blocks from the house. Two individuals were arrested for being in possession of thirteen pounds of marijuana. In addition, police located a firearm. One of those men indicated that he got the marijuana "up on the hill, at the little house." Waddell, supra at 209.
Homestead police and Munhall officers travelled to 314 West 12th Avenue. As they approached, a strong odor of marijuana was detected coming from the house. Police knocked on the door and, after hearing no response, discerned the sound of slight movement inside. Police knocked twice more, the final time stating that it was the police and asking someone to open the door. At that time, more movement was heard and another officer radioed that a person had jumped out of a window from the rear of the home. Based on the belief that someone inside might destroy evidence or retrieve a gun, police kicked in the door and entered the house. Two handguns, an AK-47 magazine, and marijuana were in plain view. Citing Demshock, the panel stated, "It is well established that police cannot rely upon exigent circumstances to justify a warrantless entry where the exigency derives from their own actions." Waddell, supra at 214. The Waddell panel added that, "Hurried movement does not provide a strong inference that evidence was being destroyed[.]" Id. at 216.
The court continued that it was reasonable to assume that the "`knock and talk' was conducted with the hope that events would transpire in such a fashion as to obviate the warrant requirement altogether." Id. at 217. It further reasoned, "To prevent dilution of the sanctity of a citizen's home, the core element of the Fourth Amendment, we must remain vigilant against attempts by police to actively seek out exigency, no matter how well-intentioned their efforts might be." Id. The Waddell Court did not discuss King, nor did the Commonwealth brief that case.
In King, police set up a controlled buy of crack cocaine outside an apartment complex. An undercover officer watched the transaction occur and then radioed to uniformed officers to arrest the suspect. The officers were unable to stop the person before he entered an apartment. Unlike this case, police did not see which apartment the suspect entered, but heard a door close and detected a very strong odor of marijuana from one of two apartments in the vicinity. The suspect actually entered the apartment not at issue.
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that police improperly created their own exigency in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether the exigent circumstance rule applies "when police, by knocking on the door of a residence and announcing their presence, cause the occupants to attempt to destroy evidence." King, supra at 1854.
The King Court reasoned that a rule precluding police from making a warrantless entry to prevent destruction of evidence "would unreasonably shrink the reach of this well-established exception to the warrant requirement." Id. at 1857. The Supreme Court discussed various state and federal approaches that precluded a finding of exigency under similar circumstances. With respect to cases concluding that police possessed probable cause and sufficient time to secure a warrant, it submitted that such an approach "unjustifiably interferes with legitimate law enforcement strategies." Id. at 1860. The King Court found that, "Faulting the police for failing to apply for a search warrant at the earliest possible time after obtaining probable cause imposes a duty that is nowhere to be found in the Constitution." Id. at 1861. Thus, King held that the police, by knocking and announcing, did not impermissibly create the exigency needed for a warrantless search.
King thus calls into question portions of Demshock and Waddell insofar as they rely on the Fourth Amendment and the now-overruled view that under the Fourth Amendment the police cannot create their own exigency by knocking and announcing. For this reason, Appellant maintains that Pennsylvania constitutional principles should be applied more broadly.
As noted, Appellant's position is essentially that the police created their own exigent circumstances by knocking on the door of the apartment rather than securing a search warrant. He highlights that police knew that Weightman had sold drugs to one person one and one-half hour before entering the apartment. Appellant adds that Trooper Brautigam also saw Weightman engage in three separate drug sales and knew what apartment she was entering. Accordingly, Appellant posits that police had sufficient information to secure a warrant but elected to create their own exigency by approaching and knocking on the door.
The Commonwealth responds by arguing for the first time, though the issue is not waived, see Commonwealth v. Hawkins, 553 Pa. 76, 718 A.2d 265, 268 n. 3 (1998), that Appellant did not establish an expectation of privacy in the apartment. This argument fails in light of Commonwealth v. Arnold, 932 A.2d 143 (Pa.Super.2007). Therein, this Court held that a visitor to an apartment has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the place being visited. We found that to hold otherwise "would permit police officers to provide retroactive justifications and randomly invade homes on the pretense that any person found not to be a non-resident after the fact could be searched." Id. at 149; see also Minnesota v. Olson, 495 U.S. 91,
In the alternative, the Commonwealth contends that the police had both probable cause and exigent circumstances to enter the apartment. Accordingly, it maintains that the warrantless entry was lawful. Here, Appellant disputes only the exigent circumstances. The Commonwealth relies heavily on King, supra, and asserts that, after police knocked on the door, exigent circumstances arose because those inside refused to answer, movement was heard, and a powerful smell of marijuana was coming from the residence.
We begin by noting that in several contexts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has interpreted Article I, § 8 to afford broader protections than interpretations of the Fourth Amendment by the United States Supreme Court. Theodore v. Delaware Valley School District, 575 Pa. 321, 836 A.2d 76 (2003) (finding Article I, § 8 provides greater protections for suspicionless drug testing of students than does the United States Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence); Commonwealth v. Matos, 543 Pa. 449, 672 A.2d 769 (Pa.1996) (rejecting the Supreme Court's decision in California v. Hodari, 499 U.S. 621, 111 S.Ct. 1547, 113 L.Ed.2d 690 (1991), and holding that, under Article I, § 8, pursuit by a police officer without probable cause or reasonable suspicion constitutes a seizure); Commonwealth v. Edmunds, 526 Pa. 374, 586 A.2d 887 (1991) (declining to adopt "good faith" exception to exclusionary rule under United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984)); Commonwealth v. Melilli, 521 Pa. 405, 555 A.2d 1254 (1989) (installation of pen register requires probable cause); Commonwealth v. DeJohn, 486 Pa. 32, 403 A.2d 1283 (1979) (expectation of privacy exist in bank records); Commonwealth v. Sell, 504 Pa. 46, 470 A.2d 457 (1983) (retaining automatic standing rule in Pennsylvania and declining to adopt Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 99 S.Ct. 421, 58 L.Ed.2d 387 (1978); United States v. Salvucci, 448 U.S. 83, 100 S.Ct. 2547, 65 L.Ed.2d 619 (1980)).
However, in other situations, our High Court has declined to interpret Article I, § 8 as providing greater protections than the United States Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. See Commonwealth v. Russo, 594 Pa. 119, 934 A.2d 1199 (2007) (open fields doctrine); Commonwealth v. Duncan 572 Pa. 438, 817 A.2d 455 (2003) (no privacy right in name and address); Commonwealth v. Glass, 562 Pa. 187, 754 A.2d 655 (2000) (anticipatory search warrants); Commonwealth v. Waltson, 555 Pa. 223, 724 A.2d 289 (1998) (search warrant of house not overbroad); Commonwealth v. Williams, 547 Pa. 577, 692 A.2d 1031 (1997) (search of parolee); Commonwealth v. Gary, 625 Pa. 183, 91 A.3d 102 (2014) (plurality) (automobile searches).
We consider four factors in analyzing whether our state charter offers more protections than does the federal constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court: (1) the text of the Pennsylvania constitutional provision; (2) the history of the provision, including Pennsylvania case law; (3) related case law from other states; and (4) policy considerations, including unique issues of state and local concern and applicability within modern Pennsylvania jurisprudence. See Edmunds, supra at 895.
In addition, when considering the Pennsylvania Constitution, "great regard should be paid to spirit and intention," and it is important to examine the "probable intent of the makers." Commonwealth v. Rose, 81 A.3d 123, 127 (Pa.Super.2013), allowance of appeal granted on other
In performing this examination, we keep in mind that "[a] constitution is made, not particularly for the inspection of lawyers, but for the inspection of the million, that they may read and discern in it their rights and their duties; and it is consequently expressed in the terms that are most familiar to them." Monongahela Navigation Co. v. Coons, 6 Watts & Serg. 101, 114 (Pa.1843). Thus, we construe words in their plain and natural meaning, unless the words themselves denote a technical sense. Id. "Concomitantly, a fundamental precept in interpreting our constitution is that the language `must be interpreted in its popular sense, as understood by the people when they voted on its adoption. Our ultimate touchstone is the actual language of the Constitution itself.'" Rose, supra at 127 (quoting Stilp v. Commonwealth, 588 Pa. 539, 905 A.2d 918, 939 (Pa.2006)). In short, we consider "the original public meaning of the text at issue, giving due regard to both its spirit and the intent of the framers of the clause." Rose, supra at 127.
The current version of Article I, § 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides,
Pa. Const., Article I, § 8. Similarly, the Fourth Amendment reads,
U.S. Const. Am. IV.
The Fourth Amendment, proposed by Congress in 1789, was ratified December 15, 1791. Of note, however, is that Pennsylvania's right against unlawful searches and seizures predates the ratification of the Fourth Amendment. The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 set forth:
Pa. Const., (1776) Chapt. 1, Article X.
This provision did not utilize the term "unreasonable" and focused on repudiating the issuance of general warrants. Accordingly, this provision was directly aimed at banning searches using general, i.e., overbroad warrants. This, of course, is not surprising when considered in historical context.
John Dickinson, a prominent Pennsylvania revolutionary leader and signer of the federal constitution as a Delaware delegate, writing in his Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer, complained of the 1767 Townshend
He noted that he was "well aware that writs of this kind may be granted at home, under the seal of the court of exchequer: But I know also that the greatest asserters of the rights of Englishmen, have always strenuously contended, that such a power was dangerous to freedom, and expressly contrary to the common law, which ever regarded a man's house, as his castle, or a place of perfect security." Id. at 89; see also Gary, supra at 146 (Todd, J., dissenting) (discussing Dickinson and Pennsylvania opposition to such writs).
Even before Dickinson's well-known and widely disseminated "Letters" was the Writs of Assistance case, also commonly called Paxton's Case. The case was widely known in Boston in 1761, although the reporting of the case is untraditional. Much of what is known about the case comes from the notes of John Adams regarding the argument of James Otis, Jr. (hereinafter "Otis"). Otis would later serve in the Stamp Act Congress with Dickinson in 1765.
Writs of assistance were a type of general warrant that authorized government officials to look for smuggled materials. "Prior to 1755, local customs officers carried out warrantless searches under an assumed power of forcible entry ex officio. Massachusetts residents vigorously opposed these intrusions, thereby impelling Governor William Shirley to begin issuing his own warrants to customs officers." Tracy Maclin, The Complexity of the Fourth Amendment: A Historical Review, 77 B.U.L. Rev. 925, 945 (2014) (footnote omitted). Nonetheless, "opposition to gubernatorial warrants forced Shirley to order his officers to obtain writs of assistance from the judiciary." Id. (footnote omitted).
Writs of assistance were valid for six months after the death of the sovereign. The death of King George II in 1760, among other reasons, resulted in Boston merchants opposing renewal of the writs. One Boston customs official who had been using writs of assistance at the time was Charles Paxton. Paxton utilized what we now would refer to as confidential informants to learn of places where smuggled goods were being kept. See M.H. Smith, The Writs of Assistance Case, 128 (1978).
Sixty-three Boston merchants petitioned against the continued issuance of the writs. Id. at 131. Otis resigned his position as advocate general to the vice-admiralty court in order to avoid defending the writ and was retained by the Boston merchants. The Boston surveyor general of customs, Thomas Lechmere, issued a "memorial" to the Massachusetts Superior Court asking that his council be heard on the subject so that writs of assistance could be issued to his officers.
Otis began by stating that such writs were "the worst instrument of arbitrary
John Adams, many years later, would write, "Then and there, the child Independence was born." See Frank v. Maryland, 359 U.S. 360, 364 n. 3, 79 S.Ct. 804, 3 L.Ed.2d 877 (1959). Adams himself would introduce the use of the phrase "unreasonable" into constitutional search and seizure provisions when crafting the Massachusetts prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures for the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution.
One of this Commonwealth's most illustrious attorneys and an early constitutional commentator, William Rawle, described the Fourth Amendment as follows. "Here again we find the general terms which prohibit all violations of these personal rights, and of course extend both to the state and the United States.[
Importantly, it was not just in Massachusetts where opposition to general warrants was voiced. In Pennsylvania, "our Court's colonial predecessor, along with that of Connecticut, was unique in basing its refusal to issue such writs on the fact that they failed to restrict searches to only specific places and enumerated items and did not require an official to disclose to a judicial officer, prior to a search, his reasons for conducting it." Gary, supra at 146 (Todd, J., dissenting).
There is, of course, little dispute that the framers of the Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights and those who framed and ratified the Fourth Amendment did not intend for warrants to be required for all searches and seizures. As of 1790, there were recognized
Framing-era law enforcement could only justify felony warrantless arrests if a felony in fact had been committed, and such an arrest was ordinarily required to be based on exceptional circumstances. Wakely v. Hart, 6 Binn. 316, 318 (Pa.1814) (emphases in original) ("it is no where said, that there shall be no arrest without warrant. To have said so would have endangered the safety of society. The felon who is seen to commit murder or robbery, must be arrested on the spot or suffered to escape. So although not seen, yet if known to have committed a felony, and pursued with or without warrant, he may be arrested by any person."); see also Davies, at 578 (citing James Wilson's law lectures of 1790-1791 contained in 2 The Works of James Wilson, 685 (Robert G. McCloseky ed., 1967)).
The exceptions generally applied to prevent escape. Wakely, supra; William Waller Hening, The New Virginia Justice, 71, 303-305 (Richmond, 2nd ed. 1810) (warrantless arrests allowed where person views a felony, dangerous wounding, breach of peace, and is in fresh pursuit); compare id. at 51 ("a constable hath no power to arrest a man for an affray done out of his own view, without a warrant from a justice, unless a felony were done, or likely to be done");
Of course, a public offense committed or attempted in the person's presence could permit any person to arrest even for a misdemeanor. Hening, supra at 50-51, 71. Importantly, during the 18th century, most crimes were misdemeanors. See 5 Tucker's Blackstone, 216 (Philadelphia, 1803) (defining assaults, batteries, wounding, false imprisonment, and kidnapping as misdemeanors).
In addition to arrest authority being extremely limited unless the crime was observed by the arrestor, so too was the ability to enter a residence without permission. "From the earliest days, the common law drastically limited the authority of law officers to break the door of a house to effect an arrest[,]" Miller v. United States, 357 U.S. 301, 306, 78 S.Ct. 1190, 2 L.Ed.2d 1332 (1958), even when the officer had a warrant. The home as a person's castle dates back to at least Semayne's Case, 77 Eng.Rep. 194 (1603). Therein, the court declared that "in all cases when the King is party, the sheriff (if the doors be not open) may break the party's house, either to arrest him or to do other execution of the King's process, if otherwise he cannot enter. But before he breaks it, he ought to signify the cause of his coming, and to make request to open doors[.]"
Importantly, Semayne's Case was referencing when a sheriff actually was executing the King's process, i.e., a warrant. Similarly, William Hawkins, in his influential 18th century criminal treatise, maintained: "where one lies under a probable Suspicion only, and is not indicted, it seems the better Opinion at this Day, That no one can justify the Breaking open Doors in Order to apprehend him." Miller, supra at 308, 78 S.Ct. 1190. Nonetheless, another leading English legal commentator, Matthew Hale, in his well-known Pleas of the Crown, did opine, "A man, that arrests upon suspicion of felony, may break open doors, if the party refuse upon demand to open them[.]" Ker, supra at 48 n. 1 83 S.Ct. 1623 (quoting 1 Hale, Pleas of the Crown, 583 (1736)); Henings, supra at 73. Citing Hale and Hawkins, William Blackstone in his influential Commentaries condemned general warrants and also voiced disapproval of general criminal warrants. See 5 Tucker's Blackstone, 291.
Since the constitutional prohibitions against general warrants was because such warrants provided discretionary authority to constables, customs officers, and other peace officers, "it is wholly implausible that the Framers would have approved of broad use of warrantless intrusions, because such intrusions would necessarily have rested solely on the officers' own judgment." Davies, supra at 582.
A warrantless seizure or search at that time, unlike today, permitted resistance,
As mentioned, at English and early American common law, law enforcement officials could only enter a private home, even with a warrant, where those inside were made aware of the presence of someone outside and those inside refused a demand to open the door. Semayne's Case, supra;
American cases authorizing forcible entry into a home required exceptional circumstances. For example, if a felon escaped after arrest, an officer or private citizen in fresh, i.e., hot pursuit, could enter a house that the escapee took refuge in by breaking down the door. Ker, supra at 54-55, 83 S.Ct. 1623; see also 5 Tucker's Blackstone, 293; Hening, supra 73-74, 218 ("wherever a person is lawfully arrested for any cause, and afterwards escapes, and shelters himself in a house, the doors may be broken open to take him, on refusal of admittance"); compare also Read v. Case, 4 Conn. 166 (1822).
However, there was no common law authority for a warrantless search in a home, other than a search for the fleeing individual or of an individual's person incident to an arrest. See generally William Cuddihy, The Fourth Amendment, Origins and Original Meaning (2009); cf. Sailly v. Smith, 11 Johns 500 (N.Y.Sup.1814) (questioning, in dicta, a statute's authorization of warrantless home searches by a customs official, despite New York having no constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches or seizures at the time).
In sum, at the time of Pennsylvania's early constitutions, it was generally recognized by the people that an unreasonable search and seizure occurred unless a specific warrant authorized the search or seizure. Hot pursuit after observing a felony was one exception to the warrant requirement. Further, it was unreasonable to enter a home with or without a warrant without knocking and announcing. No destruction of evidence exception to a specific warrant requirement before entering a home was regularly claimed at the time of the founding.
Two Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases regarding exigent circumstances, which have been the subject of criticism and curtailed on other grounds, Commonwealth v. Mason, 535 Pa. 560, 637 A.2d 251 (1993), and Commonwealth v. Melendez, 544 Pa. 323, 676 A.2d 226 (1996), are implicated in this case. In Mason, an undercover police officer met with an individual to purchase cocaine. That person and a police informant traveled to an apartment complex to purchase the cocaine with money the officer provided. A different undercover officer witnessed the individual enter a specific apartment and return to a car occupied by the other undercover officer and informant.
After the undercover officer exited the car, police arrested the individual two blocks from the apartment. The arrested individual identified the apartment where he bought the cocaine and stated that it housed additional cocaine. Police then elected to get a search warrant. However, before the warrant was secured, another officer forcefully entered the apartment, fearful that the cocaine would be destroyed. Specifically, an officer knocked on the door for two minutes without receiving a response. He did not identify himself as police. Police then used a battering ram to break down the door.
The Mason Court stated that the "sole issue in the case is whether the trial court properly denied Mason's motion to suppress evidence seized in alleged violation of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania." Mason, supra at 253. Ultimately, the Mason Court found such a violation. Mason argued that the entry
The Mason Court concluded by holding that forcefully entering the apartment without exigent circumstances and a warrant was an unconstitutional violation of Article I, § 8. In doing so, the Court opined that there must be more than suspicion that destruction of evidence might occur. Thereafter, in Melendez, supra, the Court found a warrantless entry into a home illegal. There, police were watching a residence for three weeks. While awaiting approval of a search warrant, police stopped the defendant in her car after she left the house. A search revealed a handgun and large amount of cash. This stop and search was deemed unlawful by the Melendez Court. Police then drove the defendant back to the house and used her keys to enter. Upon entering, the police saw an individual with a bag of cocaine.
The Melendez Court opined, "if the police created a danger that their surveillance might be discovered because they stopped Melendez's car, they can hardly be allowed to rely on that to justify a warrantless intrusion. Had the police simply waited for the search warrant, they could have searched the dwelling[.]" Melendez, supra at 229. It then maintained, under the Pennsylvania Constitution, "If the concern was that police activity might have been witnessed by a person remaining in the house who might begin to destroy evidence, such a possibility is of no legal consequence, for police may not create their own exigencies, which they then use as justification for exclusion from normal warrant requirements." Id. at 230.
Most recently, in Commonwealth v. Johnson, 68 A.3d 930 (Pa.Super.2013), this Court discussed Mason, Melendez, Demshock, Waddell, and, in two footnotes, quoted extensively from King. In Johnson, police received information from two anonymous sources regarding ongoing drug activity at a trailer park. One informant reported that an older white female with red hair was involved. Police responded to the area and encountered a person matching that description. They did not arrest her and, after informing her that they were police, asked her to leave the vicinity. The officers, as they climbed the steps to a residence earlier identified as the place where drugs were being sold, detected a strong odor of marijuana. They then knocked and the door was opened by the defendant.
The officers observed that the trailer was smoke-filled and the odor of burning marijuana was even stronger. Police asked if they could speak with the defendant inside. The defendant refused, swearing at the officers. The officers instructed the defendant that they would return with a warrant and attempted to restrain the defendant from re-entering the premises while they secured the warrant. The defendant struggled with police before they placed him under arrest. In response to a question, he indicated that another person was inside the residence. Accordingly, two officers again knocked and asked for the occupant to respond. When no one answered, the police entered.
In light of the above constitutional analysis and consistent with Mason and Melendez, we decline to jettison long-standing Pennsylvania constitutional law that prohibits actual police-created exigencies to justify a warrantless arrest. Nonetheless, we do not find that, under the facts of this case, the police created an exigency since their actions were consistent with the limited authority afforded peace officers at the time of the passage of Pennsylvania's 1776 and 1790 constitutions.
Here, police personally observed the drug transactions. They then pursued the culprit, knocked, asked to speak to the renter, and announced that it was police before entering. These actions are consistent with allowable, i.e., reasonable, 18th century common law practice. See also Commonwealth v. Govens, 429 Pa.Super. 464, 632 A.2d 1316, 1326-1327 (1993) (en banc) (discussing Fourth Amendment and police created exigency law). Police only forcibly entered after the renter refused to open the door, again a practice not prohibited by the 1776 and 1790 constitutions. Further, police did not uncover the drugs in question by undertaking an overbroad and prohibited search of the entire residence on the grounds that it was incident to arrest. Rather, the drugs were seized in plain view. Thus, this case is markedly different from Mason, Melendez, and even Demshock and Waddell, which both relied on the Fourth Amendment.
The defendant in Mason was not personally observed committing a crime. Instead, police witnessed a different individual commit the drug transaction after leaving the residence of the defendant. Further, while a police officer did knock, he did not announce that he was an officer and testified that he intended to pose as a maintenance worker.
Melendez involved even more egregious police action. There, police did not have grounds to stop the defendant, having observed no suspicious activity on her part. Police then transported the defendant back to her residence and directed her to open her door. Not a single common law exception to warrantless entry into a defendant's home applied. With respect to Demshock, police witnessed a minor offense, underage drinking, occur inside the home. While knocking, police intentionally did not announce their presence. The minor nature of the offense and the failure to indicate they were police in order to
Similarly, Waddell, though focusing on a Fourth Amendment analysis, is consistent with this decision and Pennsylvania constitutional jurisprudence. The distinction between Waddell and this matter is that therein the police did not observe any drug transactions, and the defendant was no longer inside, having exited out a window. Waddell, supra at 215. Under the common law at the time of the passage of Pennsylvania's first two constitutions, forced entry would have been unlawful because the fleeing felon was not inside and police were not in fresh pursuit after seeing the crime. For the aforementioned reasons, we find that the police in this matter did not violate Article I, § 8.
Having resolved Appellant's first two issues, we now consider his remaining claims. Appellant contends that his sentence is unconstitutional under Alleyne v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013). Alleyne held that facts that increase a defendant's mandatory minimum sentence are elements of the crime and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt or a defendant's jury trial right is violated. Accordingly, many mandatory minimum sentencing statutes in Pennsylvania are no longer constitutionally sound. See Commonwealth v. Watley, 81 A.3d 108 (Pa.Super.2013) (en banc). More recently, this Court has held that the statute governing drug mandatories, at issue here, is unconstitutional as a whole and that a sentence under such a provision is illegal.
Appellant's final claim contests the sufficiency of the evidence as to his hindering apprehension conviction. Ordinarily, we address sufficiency claims at the outset because they entitle the defendant to discharge. See Commonwealth v. Toritto, 67 A.3d 29 (Pa.Super.2013) (en banc) However, since Appellant was convicted of multiple charges, he would only be entitled to discharge on this crime and his remaining issues pertained to his other convictions. Accordingly, we have addressed the issue in the order presented.
In conducting a sufficiency of the evidence review, we view all of the evidence admitted, even improperly-admitted evidence. Watley, supra at 113. We consider such evidence in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth as the verdict winner, drawing all reasonable inferences from the evidence in favor of the Commonwealth. Id. When evidence exists to allow the fact-finder to determine beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crimes charged, the sufficiency claim will fail. Id.
Instantly, Appellant's challenge relates to his allowing Nicole Dudek to stay with him when she was wanted by police. Dudek had informed Appellant that police were seeking to arrest her based on discovering heroin at her home. The crime of hindering apprehension is defined in pertinent part as follows, "A person commits an offense if, with intent to hinder the apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of another for crime or violation of the terms of probation, parole, intermediate punishment or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, he: (1) harbors or conceals the other[.]" 18 Pa.C.S. § 5105(a)(1).
Appellant argues that Ms. Dudek's testimony revealed that he told her to turn herself in after she stayed one night at his residence. According to Appellant, his instructions to her reveal a lack of criminal intent to harbor Ms. Dudek. Appellant continues that, even if the jury believed Ms. Dudek was lying about him telling her to turn herself in to police, there was no other evidence that he harbored her.
The Commonwealth responds that Appellant's own argument defeats his claim. It maintains that Appellant concedes that he allowed Ms. Dudek, a known fugitive, to stay with him. The Commonwealth submits that it is immaterial that he asked her to turn herself in after he already harbored her for one night. It asserts that Appellant gave shelter to a fugitive, which is sufficient evidence to sustain the jury's finding. We agree. Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, Appellant permitted a known fugitive to stay with him and only expressed his desire that she turn herself over to police after he allowed her to spend the night. Appellant's sufficiency claim fails.
Judgment of sentence vacated. Case remanded for resentencing. Jurisdiction relinquished.
Mass. Const. Declaration of Rights, Art. XIV (1780), reprinted in The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America, at 45-46 (London, 2nd ed. 1783).