A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

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By Burt Rose

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A panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has issued a decision in COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Mathew Bryan WOLFE, Appellant,2014 WL 7331915, 2014 PA Super 288, No. 1962 MDA 2013 (Dec. 24, 2014). This was a direct appeal from a Judgment of Sentence of President Judge Joseph C. Madenspacher of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Criminal Division, CP–36–CR–0005791–2012. The Judges were BOWES, MUNDY and JENKINS. Judge Mundy wrote the Opinion. Judge Bowes dissented.

 

Wolfe appealed from an aggregate judgment of sentence of ten to 20 years’ imprisonment imposed after he was found guilty of two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, one count of unlawful contact with a minor, four counts of statutory sexual assault, and one count of corruption of minors. Appellant received a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence for each IDSI count pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9718(a)(1):

 

  • 9718. Sentences for offenses against infant persons

 

(a) Mandatory sentence.—

 

(1) A person convicted of the following offenses when the victim is less than 16 years of age shall be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment as follows:

18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse)-not less than ten years.

 

The Panel concluded that Section 9718 is facially unconstitutional as “mandatory minimum sentence statutes in Pennsylvania of this format are void in their entirety” in view of Commonwealth v. Newman, 2014 WL 4088805 (Pa . Super.2014) ( en banc ) and Commonwealth v. Valentine,2014 WL 4942256 (Pa.Super.2014).

 

Because the trial court imposed an illegal sentence when it imposed the mandatory minimum sentence in this case, the Court vacated the trial court’s judgment of sentence, and the case was remanded for resentencing, without the application of the Section 9718 mandatory minimum.

 

Counsel for the Appellant was James Jude Karl of the Lancaster County Public Defender’s Office.

 

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