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Commonwealth v. H.D.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

March 25, 2021

In Commonwealth v. H.D., a jury convicted the defendant of interference with child custody, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2904(a). The defendant appealed, and the Superior Court reversed, holding that the belief element of the § 2904(b)(1) defense “does not provide an opportunity for a  jury to compare the  actions of the defendant with a reasonable person under similar circumstances.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed the Commonwealth to appeal, and the Court affirmed the Superior Court’s decision. The Court compared the statute to its corollary provision in the Model Penal Code and ruled that there is “a dearth of evidence” in the Model Penal Code or the statute at issue “to condition the belief element of the Section 2904(b)(1) defense on reasonableness.”

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