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 indecent assault, but, mid-trial, the prosecutor moved to amend those counts to felonies. The defendant claimed that allowing the amendment would prejudice him and make his trial strategy ineffective. The lower court permitted the amendment. The Superior Court reversed, holding that, under the factors in Commonwealth v. Sinclair, the defendant was unfairly prejudiced. The Court also found harmless error when a Commonwealth witness impermissibly commented on the defendant’s post-arrest silence.

RIVERA