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Weekly Caselaw Updates

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Commonwealth v. Rivera

In Commonwealth v. Rivera, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued a critical ruling regarding the Commonwealth's ability to amend a criminal complaint at the 11th hour. The defendant was convicted of numerous offenses related to his sexual assault of four children. The defendant was initially charged with two counts of misdemeanor…

Commonwealth v. Rivera
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Rivera, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued a critical ruling regarding the Commonwealth’s ability to amend a criminal complaint at the 11th hour. The defendant was convicted of numerous offenses related to his sexual assault of four children. The defendant was initially charged with two counts of misdemeanor indecent assault, but, mid-trial, the… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Rivera

Commonwealth v. Lopez
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Lopez, an en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that Rule 706(C) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure only requires a sentencing court to hold an ability-to-pay hearing when a defendant faces incarceration for failure to pay court costs previously imposed on him. A sentencing court is not required to conduct… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Lopez

Commonwealth v. Bennett
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Bennett, the Pennsylvania Superior Court disavowed the defendant’s “gamesmanship” employed to use the compulsory-joinder rule, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 110, as a bar to further prosecution. The defendant was stopped for traffic violations, and a subsequent search of the car uncovered a gun. He was cited for the traffic violations and charged criminally… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Bennett

The Appellate Division dealt with two important constitutional issues in State v. Sims. First, the Court was asked to determine whether police officers were required to inform the defendant of the charges he was arrested for, even if no charges had yet to be formally filed. Relying on the New Jersey Supreme Court’s holdings in… Continue reading State v. Sims

Commonwealth v. Leone
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Leone, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that the defendant’s designation as a sexually violent predator (SVP) was constitutional. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court previously held in Commonwealth v. Butler, 226 A.3d 972 (Pa. 2020), that the mechanism by which defendants are determined to be SVPs is constitutional.

Commonwealth v. Mojica
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Mojica, the defendant filed a pro se PCRA petition after he was convicted, but before sentencing, and while he was still represented by counsel. In the petition, he made sufficiency and weight claims. The PCRA court ignored the pro se petition and sentenced the defendant. The Pennsylvania Superior Court noted that it… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Mojica

Commonwealth v. Davis
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Davis, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the process by which prosecuting authorities can refile criminal charges pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 544. In Davis, after a preliminary hearing, a magisterial district judge dismissed charges. The Commonwealth sought to refile the complaint but went to a different MDJ to do so. Then the case proceeded… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Davis

McMichael v. McMichael
Pennsylvania Supreme Court

In McMichael v. McMichael, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave quality primers on the difference between a survival action and a wrongful death action as well as the difference between economic and non-economic damages. In this wrongful death and survival action, the jury awarded the decedent’s surviving spouse zero dollars in damages — economic and non-economic… Continue reading McMichael v. McMichael

Commonwealth v. Betts
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Betts, the Superior Court set forth the proper procedure for criminal defendants who wish to allege that their attorneys rendered ineffective assistance of counsel during PCRA proceedings in the Courts of Common Pleas. Defendants are obliged to raise their claims in response to the lower courts’ notice of intent to dismiss pursuant… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Betts

The Appellate Division in In re Z.S. vacated the family court’s order, which waived jurisdiction and directed that 17-year-old Z.S. be prosecuted as an adult on charges under the Jessica Lunsford Act.  The Appellate Division found that the prosecutor’s statement of reasons was “materially deficient.” Importantly, the juvenile was functioning cognitively as a 13-year-old and was deemed developmentally… Continue reading In re Z.S.