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Commonwealth v. Woods

February 4, 2009

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE
v.
RUSSELL WOODS, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence September 17, 2007 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal at No(s): CP-51-CR-0810251-2004.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stevens, J.

BEFORE: STEVENS, KLEIN, and CLELAND, JJ.

OPINION

¶ 1 This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County following the revocation of Appellant's probation. Appellant's sole contention is that he was denied his right to a speedy violation of probation (VOP) hearing pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 708. We affirm.

¶ 2 The relevant facts and procedural history are as follows: On October 13, 2004, Appellant pled no contest to aggravated indecent assault, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 1825, and corrupting the morals of a minor, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6301(a)(1), in connection with the June 6, 2004 sexual assault of a fifteen-year-old girl on a subway platform.

¶ 3 On May 13, 2005, the trial court found Appellant to be a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) and imposed a sentence of 111/2 months to 23 months in prison for the corrupting the morals of a minor conviction and a consecutive term of five years' probation for the aggravated indecent assault conviction. Appellant filed a direct appeal to this Court, and while Appellant's direct appeal was pending,*fn1 Appellant was released from prison and placed on probation on June 16, 2005.

¶ 4 On July 20, 2005, Appellant robbed a twenty-year-old woman at gunpoint, and he was arrested. Since Appellant committed the robbery while he was on probation with regard to the June 6, 2004 sexual assault, the trial court lodged a detainer against Appellant on July 21, 2005. A VOP hearing was scheduled for August 9, 2005, which was just one month after Appellant was arrested for the subsequent robbery; however, on August 9, 2005, the trial court ordered a psychological evaluation of Appellant and continued the hearing to September 7, 2005. While awaiting trial on the robbery charge, Appellant raped an eleven-year-old girl and was arrested on September 12, 2005. The VOP hearing was postponed until October 26, 2005, and then again postponed until December 7, 2005.

¶ 5 On June 29, 2006, Appellant pled guilty to the new robbery and rape charges, and on December 12, 2006, Appellant was sentenced to an aggregate of ten years to twenty years in prison. On September 17, 2007, the trial court held a VOP hearing in the instant matter, at the commencement of which Appellant's counsel indicated "[m]y argument is that these sentences were imposed over two years ago and that this hearing is not timely and that there should be no further action on this case." N.T. 9/17/07 at 5. The trial court rejected the complaint, proceeded to revoke Appellant's probation, and imposed an aggregate of five years to ten years in prison, to be followed by five years of reporting probation. This sentence was to be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for the robbery and rape charges on December 12, 2006.

¶ 6 On September 27, 2007, Appellant filed a timely, counseled motion for reconsideration of his sentence,*fn2 and on October 17, 2007, he filed a notice of appeal to this Court. The trial court did not order a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement, and no such statement was filed by Appellant. The trial court filed a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion addressing Appellant's contention that he was denied a speedy VOP hearing.

¶ 7 As indicated, Appellant's sole issue on appeal is that his probation with regard to his sexual assault conviction should not have been revoked since he was denied his right to a speedy VOP hearing under Pa.R.Crim.P. 708. Appellant contends that the delay was unreasonable and prejudicial to him.

¶ 8 Pa.R.Crim.P. 708 provides, in relevant part, that:

Rule 708. Violation of Probation, Intermediate Punishment, or Parole: Hearing and Disposition

***

(B) Whenever a defendant has been sentenced to probation or intermediate punishment, or placed on parole, the judge shall not revoke such probation, intermediate punishment, or ...


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