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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DALE SAMUELS (10/15/87)

decided: October 15, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
DALE SAMUELS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, No. 02657 Philadelphia 1984, dated April 22, 1986, Reversing the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Criminal Division, No. 3261 of 1983, dated August 29, 1984. Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Hutchinson, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Nix, C.j., joined.

Author: Zappala

[ 516 Pa. Page 301]

Opinion

Dale Samuels was found guilty by a Bucks County jury of statutory rape, indecent assault, indecent exposure, and corruption of a minor. The court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment from 38 months to 15 years. Superior Court affirmed the guilty verdicts but vacated the judgment of sentence and remanded for resentencing, 354 Pa. Super. 128, 511 S.2d 221. The court held that the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing exceeded its statutory grant of authority by adopting guidelines that increased the severity of sentences on the basis of prior convictions for misdemeanors not involving deadly weapons. We reverse.

[ 516 Pa. Page 302]

As an aid in computing the sentence to be imposed for the four offenses,*fn1 the court used a Guideline Sentence Form published by the Commission. The court calculated a prior record score of 5 based on Samuels's history of one burglary conviction (2 points), one misdemeanor involving a weapon (1 point), and four or more other misdemeanors (2 points). According to the Guidelines, the statutory rape charge, a second degree felony, rated 5 on the offense gravity scale. Such an offense, with a prior record score of 5, carried recommended prison terms of 16 to 21 months in the mitigated range, 21 to 30 months in the "minimum" range, and 30-38 months in the aggravated range. The corruption charge, a first degree misdemeanor with an offense gravity score of 3, carried guideline suggested sentences of nonconfinement, 0 to twelve months, and 12 to 18 months in the mitigated, "minimum", and aggravated ranges respectively, the prior record score not being applied again to increase the ranges.

Samuels raised a number of challenges to his convictions in Superior Court, all of which were rejected.*fn2 He also raised several challenges to his sentence, that, with one exception, the court also rejected. The statutory language in question reads as follows:

Adoption of guidelines for sentencing

The Commission shall adopt guidelines for sentencing within the limits established by law which shall be considered by the sentencing court in determining the appropriate

[ 516 Pa. Page 303]

    sentence for felonies and misdemeanors committed by a defendant. The guidelines shall:

(1) Specify the range of sentences applicable to crimes of a given degree of gravity.

(2) Specify a range of sentences of increased severity for defendants previously convicted of a felony or felonies or convicted of a crime involving the use of a deadly weapon.

(3) Prescribe variations from the range of sentences applicable on account of aggravating or ...


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