NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION — SEE SUPERIOR COURT I.O.P. 65.37
MEMORANDUM BY STEVENS, P.J.E.
The Commonwealth appeals the March 7, 2016, order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County ("Court of Common Pleas"), which dismissed the Commonwealth's prosecution of Clinton Lackey ("Appellee") for three violations of the Uniform Firearms Act (persons not to possess firearms, firearms not to be carried without a license, and carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia),
The relevant facts and procedural history are as follows: On December 23, 2014, at approximately 9:15 p.m., Philadelphia Police Officer Aquil Byrd stopped Appellee's vehicle at 55th and Pine Streets in Philadelphia. N.T., preliminary hearing, 1/8/15, at 4-5. During the traffic stop, Officer Byrd seized a loaded handgun from the center console of the vehicle.
On January 8, 2015, Appellee, who was represented by counsel, proceeded to a preliminary hearing before the Municipal Court on all charges. During the proceedings, defense counsel asked for "[d]ischarge for driving without a valid license[,]" to which the Commonwealth did not object, and the Municipal Court granted the request.
In the meantime, for reasons not clear from the record, on February 24, 2015, less than two months after Appellee's preliminary hearing, the Municipal Court-Traffic Division held a summary trial on Appellee's driving without a valid license offense.
On February 5, 2016, Appellee filed a counseled motion in the Court of Common Pleas seeking to dismiss the VUFA charges pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 110, relating to compulsory joinder. Specifically, Appellee argued that his conviction on the summary traffic offense in the Municipal Court-Traffic Division prior to his trial on the VUFA offenses in the Court of Common Pleas barred his prosecution of the latter. On March 7, 2016, the Court of Common Pleas held a hearing on Appellee's motion to dismiss, at the conclusion of which the Court of Common Pleas granted Appellee's motion to dismiss the VUFA charges pursuant to Section 110.
On March 14, 2015, the Commonwealth filed a motion for reconsideration, and on March 31, 2015, the Court of Common Pleas denied the Commonwealth's motion. On April 5, 2016, the Commonwealth contemporaneously filed a timely notice of appeal and a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement. Thereafter, the Court of Common Pleas filed a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion.
On appeal, the Commonwealth argues that the Court of Common Pleas erred in granting Appellee's motion to dismiss the VUFA charges pursuant to the compulsory joinder rule as set forth in Section 110.
Initially, we note that the compulsory joinder rule implicates a question of law and, as a result, our review is plenary.
"Generally speaking, the compulsory joinder statute sets forth the requirements for when a current prosecution is precluded due to a former prosecution for a different offense."
18 Pa.C.S.A. § 110 (footnote added) (bold in original).
Our Supreme Court has held that the compulsory joinder rule contains four requirements which, if met, preclude a subsequent prosecution due to a former prosecution for a different offense:
In the case sub judice, although not recognized by the parties or the Court of Common Pleas, with regard to the first prong, the record reveals that, during his preliminary hearing before the Municipal Court, Appellee's summary traffic violation for driving without a valid license was dismissed with prejudice for lack of evidence. However, thereafter, on February 24, 2015, Appellee proceeded to a summary trial, and he was convicted and sentenced, before the Municipal Court-Traffic Division, on the same traffic violation, which had previously been dismissed with prejudice for lack of evidence by the Municipal Court.
We determine that Appellee's conviction and judgment of sentence for the summary traffic violation, which was entered by the Municipal Court-Traffic Division, is a legal nullity.
Since Appellee's summary traffic conviction was dismissed with prejudice for lack of evidence by the Municipal Court during Appellee's preliminary hearing on all of the charges, and the Municipal Court-Traffic Division's subsequent conviction and judgment of sentence is a legal nullity, the Commonwealth was permitted to proceed with the VUFA charges under Section 110 as there was no proper "formal prosecution result[ing] in an acquittal or conviction" with regard to the summary traffic offense.
Judgment of Sentence and conviction entered February 24, 2015, in Municipal Court-Traffic Division is VACATED and Municipal Court's dismissal of driving without a valid license is REINSTATED; Order entered March 7, 2016, in the Court of Common Pleas is REVERSED and matter is REMANDED for further proceedings on the VUFA offenses. Jurisdiction is relinquished.
Judge Ott joins the memorandum.
Judge Dubow concurs in the result.