Commonwealth v. Jones

Citation363 A.2d 1281,242 Pa.Super. 303
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Shirley JONES, Appellant.
Decision Date27 September 1976
CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania

Argued March 8, 1976.

Joshua D. Lock, Philip D. Freedman Harrisburg, for appellant.

Marion E. MacIntyre, 2nd Asst. Dist. Atty., Harrisburg, for appellee.



Appellant was convicted by a jury of two counts of delivery of heroin. [1] Appellant contends that the court erred in denying her pre-trial motion to sever the two charges, and in instructing the jury that the defendant had the burden of proving entrapment by a preponderance of the evidence.

Appellant concedes that the Commonwealth's evidence, if believed was sufficient to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. At trial, the Commonwealth relied primarily on the testimony of Brenda Townes, an undercover narcotics agent employed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Drug Control, who operated in the Harrisburg area from December 24, 1974, until February 26, 1975. In her undercover work, Agent Townes employed Edgar Smith, a known heroin addict, as an informant and as a means of introduction in the community. According to Agent Townes, she and Smith went to an apartment located at 1901 Green Street at approximately 8:00 p.m., on February 18, 1975. Appellant opened the door and stated 'I only have one thing here.' Appellant then gave Agent Townes one bag of heroin in exchange for $10. Approximately two hours later, Agent Townes and Smith returned to the apartment and purchased a second bag of heroin.

Appellant defended the first charge by testifying that she was not at the Green Street apartment until 9:45 p.m., on February 18. In support of her alibi, appellant called the lessee of the apartment and another individual. In regard to the second charge, appellant testified that she was a user of heroin and, therefore, had one bag for her personal use. She testified that she sold the heroin to Smith, not Agent Townes, and did so only because Smith pleaded with her and told her that he was undergoing withdrawal. [2] The jury, however, convicted appellant on both counts.

We recently summarized the applicable standards for the consolidation of charges at one trial: 'The test of whether consolidation is proper is related to the test of whether evidence of one crime may be admitted at the trial for another. The present rule in Pennsylvania is that consolidation is proper (I.e., the denial of a motion for severance is not an abuse of discretion) if (1) the facts and elements of the two crimes are easily separable in the minds of a jury; and (2) the crimes are such that the fact of the commission of each crime would be admissible as evidence in a separate trial for the other. Commonwealth v. Irons, 230 Pa.Super. 56, 62, 326 A.2d 488, 491 (1974), interpreting the plurality decision in Commonwealth v. Peterson, 453 Pa. 187, 307 A.2d 264 (1973). See also Commonwealth v. Mullen, 228 Pa.Super. 207, 324 A.2d 410 (1974) (charge such that jury could not easily separate the crimes, despite possibility of common scheme.' Commonwealth v. Terrell, 234 Pa.Super. 325, 328, 339 A.2d 112, 114 (1975). [3]

In the instant case, the two crimes charged were identical in all respects except for the time of delivery, the second sale occurring two hours after the first sale. The Commonwealth's evidence concerning the actual commission of the two crimes was extremely short, consuming less than two hours of actual testimony. There is no reason to believe that the jury could not separate the two crimes. Furthermore, appellant's testimony created a ready means of demarcation: the defense to the first crime was alibi, while the defense to the second crime was entrapment. Thus, the first of the conditions for consolidation has been satisfied. Cf. Commonwealth v. Loch, Pa.Super. 361 A.2d 758 (1976) (J. 789/1975, filed March 29, 1976).

Generally, evidence of another crime is inadmissible 'because the fact of the commission of one crime is not proof of the commission of another crime; it is merely proof of a bad character which cannot support an inference of guilt.' Commonwealth v. Terrell, supra at 329, 339 A.2d at 114. However, evidence of another crime is generally admitted when it tends to prove (1) motive; (2) intent; (3) absence of mistake or accident; (4) a common scheme, plan, or design involving incidents so related to each other that proof of one tends to prove the others; or (5) to establish the identify of the person charged with the commission of the crime on trial. Commonwealth v. Terrell, supra. See also Commonwealth v. Peterson, supra; Commonwealth v. Schmidt, 452 Pa. 185, 299 A.2d 254 (1973); Commonwealth v. Irons, supra; Commonwealth v. Mullen, supra. If the two crimes charged in the instant case were tried separately, evidence of the second sale of heroin would be admissible in a trial on the first sale to establish that appellant was the person who committed the crime. Two bags of heroin were introduced by the Commonwealth; appellant presented an alibi defense and denied that she sold the first bag. Evidence that she had in fact sold an identical bag of heroin only two hours after the sale in question would be relevant to proving that appellant was the seller of the first bag as well.

In regard to the second sale, appellant admitted the sale but claimed that she was entrapped. In a separate trial on the second sale, evidence of the first sale would be admissible to show that appellant made the sale in question with the requisite criminal intent. Evidence of a sale just two hours prior to the sale in question would be relevant on the issue of entrapment, and on appellant's intent in general. Because the tests for proper consolidation were satisfied, the lower court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant's pre-trial motion to sever the two charges.

Appellant's final argument is that the court's instruction that the burden of proving an entrapment lies with the defendant offends the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because the court's instructions paralleled the language of 18 Pa.C.S. § 313(b), [4] appellant has, in effect, challenged the constitutionality of that statute. Resolution of this issue depends on whether the existence of an entrapment constitutes a material element of a crime. If so, the Commonwealth would necessarily have the burden of proving the absence of an intrapment beyond a reasonable doubt. See, e.g., In Re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970); Commonwealth v. McNeil, 461 Pa. 709, 337 A.2d 840 (1975).

The present test for entrapment is set forth in 18 Pa.C.S. § 313(a):

'(a) General rule.--A public law enforcement official or a person acting in cooperation with such an official perpetrates an entrapment if for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of an offense, he induces or encourages another person to engage in conduct constituting such offense by either:

'(1) making knowingly false representation designed to induce the belief that such conduct is not prohibited; or

'(2) employing methods of persuasion or inducement which create a substantial risk that such an offense will be committed by persons other than those who are ready to commit it.' Prior to the adoption of the 1972 Crimes Code, the Pennsylvania test for entrapment was '. . . whether the criminal design was created by the officer or whether the officer merely afforded an opportunity for the commission of a crime by the person already disposed to commit the crime . . .' Commonwealth v. Harrison, 228 Pa.Super. 42, 44, 323 A.2d 848, 849 (1974). See also Commonwealth v. Berrigan, 234 Pa.Super. 370, 343 A.2d 355 (1975); Commonwealth v. Klein, 222 Pa.Super. 409, 294 A.2d 815 (1972); Commonwealth v. Conway, 196 Pa.Super. 97, 173 A.2d 776 (1961). [5] This test was derived from the majority opinions in Sherman v. United States, 356 U.S. 369, 78 S.Ct. 819, 2 L.Ed.2d 848 (1958), and Sorrells v. United States, 287 U.S. 435, 53 S.Ct. 210, 77 L.Ed. 413 (1932), which focused on the predisposition of the accused to commit the crime. See also United States v. Russell, 411 U.S. 423, 93 S.Ct. 1637, 36 L.Ed.2d 366 (1973). The present codification of entrapment finds its origin in Mr. Justice FRANKURTER'S concurring opinion in Sherman: 'This does not mean that the police may not act so as to detect those engaged in criminal conduct and ready and willing to commit further crimes should the occasion arise. Such indeed is their obligation. It does mean that in holding out inducements they should act in such a manner as is likely to induce to the commission of crime only these persons and not others who would normally avoid crime . . .. This test shifts attention from the record and predisposition of the particular defendants to the conduct of the police and the likelihood, objectively considered, that it would entrap only those ready and willing to commit crime.' 356 U.S. at 383--384, 78 S.Ct. at 826. Thus, the test for entrapment has shifted in emphasis from a consideration of a particular defendant's readiness to commit crime, a subjective test, to an evaluation of the police conduct, an objective test, to determine whether there is a substantial risk that the offense will be committed by those innocently disposed. [6] To determine whether an entrapment has been perpetrated in any particular case, therefore, the inquiry will focus on the conduct of the police and will not be concerned with the defendant's prior criminal activity or other indicia of a predisposition to commit crime. [7]

The entrapment section, 18 Pa.C.S. § 313 is contained in the Chapter of the Crimes Code entitled 'Culpability,' which,...

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  • Com. v. Jones
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 27, 1976
    ...363 A.2d 1281 242 Pa.Super. 303 COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Shirley JONES, Appellant. Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Argued March 8, 1976. Decided Sept. 27, 1976. Page 1282 [242 Pa.Super. 305] Joshua D. Lock, Philip D. Freedman, Harrisburg, for appellant. Marion E. MacIntyre, 2nd Asst.......

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