COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant,
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania brings this appeal from an Order of the lower court quashing eight bills of Information lodged against appellee Murray Bidner on January 31, 1979. The Informations charged appellee with a variety of voting irregularities in several primary and general elections in Philadelphia between October, 1974 and May, 1978.
[p.104] On May 30, 1979, following consideration of appellee's motion to quash, the court entered an opinion and order granting the motion as to all bills. This appeal followed.
On May 16, 1978, a primary election was held in the City of Philadelphia.
On that day, appellee Bidner petitioned the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia
County, in its capacity as the Elections Court,[n. 1] to permit him to
vote, even though his name had been removed from the district register.[n.
2] During the hearing, under oath, appellee stated his address to be 721
Ranstead Street. Following the brief hearing, the court issued an order
permitting Bidner to vote. Bill of Information No. 2514 charges appellee
with perjury under the Crimes Code, 18 Pa.C.S.A. s 4902[n. 3] for making
a [p.105] false statement as to his residence at that hearing. The lower
court quashed this bill, holding that Bidner should have been charged
with perjury under the Election Code, Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1333, Art.
XVIII, s 1802, 25 P.S. s 3502, which provides:
2. 25 P.S. s 623-27.
3. Section 4902 provides in part: A person is guilty of perjury,
a felony of the third degree, if in any official proceeding he makes a
false statement under oath or equivalent affirmation, or swears or affirms
the truth of a statement previously made, when the statement is material
and he does not believe it to be true.
Both Section 4902 (Crimes Code) and Section 3502 (Election Code)
embrace the same subject matter-a wilfully false statement under oath-except
that the latter provision classifies the offense as a misdemeanor carrying
a two year maximum imprisonment, rather than a felony with a maximum penalty
of seven years, as under s 4902. In addition, it is appropriate to observe
that s 4902 is a general penal provision encompassing all wilfully false
statements in any official proceeding. Section 3502, on the other hand,
is a more specific measure applying only to persons who violates its strictures
in the exercise of their franchise privileges. The Commonwealth concedes
that the two statutes are in conflict, since the general provision prohibits
the same misconduct as the specific provision. In such a situation, we
[p.106] look for guidance to the Statutory Construction Act, Act of December
6, 1972, No. 290, s 3, 1 Pa.C.S.A. s 1501 et seq. Section 1933 provides:
Whenever a general provision in a statute shall be in conflict with a special provision in the same or another statute, the two shall be construed, if possible, so that effect may be given to both. If the conflict between the two provisions is irreconcilable, the special provisions shall prevail and shall be construed as an exception to the general provision, unless the general provision shall be enacted later and it shall be the manifest intention of the General Assembly that such general provision shall prevail.
Preliminarily, we note that we divine no "manifest intention" of the legislature that Section 4902 of the Crimes Code is to prevail over Section 3502 of the Election Code. Indeed, it has been observed that "this (Crimes) Code does not apply to or include offenses in other distinct areas of the law where an offense is defined and the penalty therefor is provided, such as the Vehicle Code, Liquor Code, etc." Toll, Pa. Crimes Code Annotated, p. 25 (1974). Since the Election Code establishes its own comprehensive scheme of offenses and penalties, 25 P.S. ss 3501-3553, it would seem that the legislature intended to accord special treatment to this area of criminal conduct to the exclusion of the more general provisions of the Crimes Code. Moreover, the legislature has recently amended certain sections of the election laws penalty provisions,[n. 4] thus manifesting its intention that the Election Code remains viable and should continue to govern whenever the misconduct appertains to elections. We thus conclude that the Crimes Code was not meant to prevail over the specific penalty measures of the Election Code.[n. 5]
5. For similar reasons, we reject the Commonwealth's suggestion that the Crimes Code repealed by implication the perjury provision of 25 P.S. s 3502. See, 1 Pa.C.S.A. s 1971. Repeals by implication are a question of legislative intent, but since repeals by implication are not favored in law, the intent must be clear. Commonwealth, Dept. of Education v. First School, 471 Pa. 471, 370 A.2d 702 (1977); Cedarbrook Realty, Inc. v. Nahill, 35 Pa.Cmwlth. 352, 387 A.2d 127 (1978), aff'd., 484 Pa. 441, 399 A.2d 374 (1979). An implied repeal only arises where the language used in the later statute necessarily discloses an irreconcilable repugnancy between its provisions and those of the earlier statute so inconsistent as not to admit of any fair consonant construction of the two. First School, supra; Parisi v. Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment, 393 Pa. 458, 143 A.2d 360 (1958); Duda v. Commonwealth, Dept. of Pharmacy, 38 Pa.Cmwlth. 378, 393 A.2d 57 (1978). Since we may effect a consonant construction by merely applying s 3502 to perjury relating to elections, we find no "irreconcilable repugnancy" and no implied repeal.