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GARY A. HAMILTON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (08/18/88)

decided: August 18, 1988.

GARY A. HAMILTON, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, CRIME VICTIM'S COMPENSATION BOARD, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Crime Victim's Compensation Board in the case of Re: Claim No. 85-0846-B, Gary A. Hamilton, Victim, dated September 23, 1986.

COUNSEL

Karl K. Baldys, Baldys & Baldys, for petitioner.

Linda C. Barrett, Assistant Counsel, with her, Linda C. Smith, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Colins and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Palladino

[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 645]

Gary A. Hamilton (Petitioner) appeals from a decision of the Crime Victim's Compensation Board (Board) denying his claim for compensation.

The facts are not in dispute. On December 8, 1984 Petitioner was shot in the right thigh by a hunter, John L. Barton, who shot Petitioner believing him to be a deer. Barton was convicted of violating section 825(b) of The Game Law*fn1 (Game Law), which section is titled "shooting at human beings in mistake." In December of 1985 Petitioner filed a claim with the Board, alleging Barton had committed the crimes of simple assault*fn2 and recklessly endangering another person,*fn3 in addition to the violation of the Game Law for which he was convicted.

On September 23, 1986 the Board denied Petitioner's claim for compensation, concluding that the actions of Barton did not constitute a crime for purposes of crime victim's compensation and that, accordingly, the Board was not authorized to award compensation. Petitioner has appealed to this court.

Petitioner contends that Barton's conviction for violating section 825(b) of the Game Law also establishes that Barton committed the crimes, under the Crimes Code, of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. Thus, the issue before us is whether the victim of a hunting accident, where the hunter has been convicted of a violation of the Game Law, is a victim

[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 646]

    of a crime entitled to compensation from the Board. For the reasons which follow, we affirm.*fn4

Section 2 of the Act of July 9, 1976 (Act), P.L. 574, as amended, 71 P.S. ยง 180-7 provides the statutory framework within which the Board operates. Crime is defined in section 2 of the Act as follows:

'Crime' means an act committed in Pennsylvania which, if committed by a mentally competent, criminally responsible adult, who had no legal exemption or defense, would constitute a crime as defined in and proscribed by Title 18 of the 'Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes,' (relating to crimes and offenses) or enumerated in the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64) known as 'The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act': Provided, however, That no act involving the operation of a motor vehicle which results in injury ...


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