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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PAUL COOPER (03/23/83)

submitted: March 23, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
PAUL COOPER, APPELLANT



No. 2918 Philadelphia 1981, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence, October 14, 1981, Court of Common Pleas, Luzerne County, Criminal Division at No. 752 of 1981.

COUNSEL

Lewis J. Bott, Assistant Public Defender, Wilkes-Barre, for appellant.

Chester B. Muroski, District Attorney, Wilkes-Barre, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Hester, Johnson and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Johnson

[ 319 Pa. Super. Page 353]

This appeal presents the question of whether a sentencing court may order a defendant to make restitution of the costs and expenses related to the death of an accident victim when the defendant has not been found criminally responsible for the act which resulted in the accident victim's death. We think not and therefore vacate that portion of the judgment of sentence providing for restitution, and affirm the sentence of imprisonment.

On September 8, 1981, Paul J. Cooper, Sr., appellant herein, entered a counseled plea of guilty to a charge of Accident Involving Death or Personal Injury following the death of a twelve-year-old boy who was struck by appellant's automobile on January 28, 1981 in Newport Township, Luzerne County. The offense of Accidents Involving Death or Personal Injury is defined in the Motor Vehicle Code as follows:

§ 3742. Accidents involving death or personal injury

(a) General rule. -- The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until he has fulfilled the requirements

[ 319 Pa. Super. Page 354]

    of section 3744 (relating to duty to give information and render aid.)*fn1 Every stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3742. Following the acceptance of appellant's guilty plea, he was sentenced to undergo imprisonment in the Luzerne County Prison for a minimum of six (6) months and a maximum of twelve (12) months. In addition, appellant was ordered to pay the costs of prosecution and to "pay the family of the victim all costs and expenses incurred by them directly connected with the death of [the victim]."*fn2

As support for the imposition of restitution, the sentencing court relied upon Section 1321(c) of the ...


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