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Commonwealth v. Henley

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
474 A.2d 1115 (Pa. 1984)


Samuel Henley (defendant) owned a jewelry store. An informant wearing a recording device went to Henley’s store with five gold chains that had been provided by the police. The informant told Henley that the chains were stolen and offered to sell the chains. Henley agreed to purchase the chains, believing that the chains were stolen, and also stated that he would like to take part in similar deals in the future. After leaving the store, the informant turned over the money and recording device to a detective. The detective subsequently arrested Henley, who was charged with attempted theft by receiving stolen property. According to Pennsylvania’s revised attempt statute, § 901, it would have been impossible for the defendant to actually commit the crime due to a misunderstanding of the circumstances. After the state presented its case, Henley filed a demurrer, arguing that the chains were not actually stolen property, due to the fact that the police possessed the chains, and that Henley therefore could not be convicted of an attempt to receive stolen property that was not actually stolen. The trial court accepted Henley’s defense and granted the demurrer. The superior court reversed, and Henley appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Papadakos, J.)

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