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Commonwealth v. Johnson

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

March 25, 2021

In Commonwealth v. Johnson, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an important decision concerning compulsory joinder. In June of 2015, as a result of a traffic stop, Appellant was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license, PWID, and K&I. Before the Traffic Division of the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, he was found guilty, in absentia, of the summary traffic offense. The Commonwealth pursued the drug offenses in the common pleas court. Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, contending that the prosecution was required to try all of the offenses simultaneously, per 18 Pa.C.S.  § 110. The court of common please denied the motion, and the Superior Court, citing 18 Pa.C.S. § 112(1), affirmed the conviction of PWID. The Supreme Court reversed and held that “the offense,” as used in Section 112(1), means the offense that was the subject of an initial prosecution resulting in a conviction or acquittal. The Court opined, “The ultimate purport, with respect to the summary-and-greater-offenses paradigm, is that the Commonwealth must generally assure that known offenses are consolidated at the common pleas level when they arise out of a single criminal episode and occur in the same judicial district.”

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