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Commonwealth v. Madeira

September 14, 2009

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT
v.
JEFFREY A. MADEIRA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered August 26, 2008, Court of Common Pleas, Berks County, Criminal Division, at No. CP-06-CR-0000629-2008.

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

BEFORE: STEVENS, SHOGAN, JJ. and McEWEN, P.J.E.

OPINION

¶ 1 The Commonwealth appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed upon Appellee, Jeffrey A. Madeira, following his conviction of failure to comply with registration of sexual offenders requirements. After careful review, we vacate the judgment of sentence and remand for resentencing.

¶ 2 The trial court set forth the procedural history of this matter as follows:

On August 26, 2008, [Appellee] entered a guilty plea to failure to comply with registration of sexual offenders requirements*fn1 and was subsequently sentenced to serve a term of not less tha[n] twelve months nor more than three years of incarceration. On August 29, 2008, the Commonwealth filed a motion to modify sentence, which was denied by this court following argument on September 12, 2008. On or about October 1, 2008, the Commonwealth filed an appeal. On October 2, 2008, this court directed the Commonwealth to file a Concise Statement of Errors Complained of on Appeal pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 1925(b). The Commonwealth complied with this Court's Order on October 20, 2008.

Trial Court Opinion, 11/26/08, at 1.

¶ 3 The Commonwealth presents the following issue for our review:

Whether the trial court erred in imposing an illegal sentence following the Commonwealth's properly filed notice of intent to invoke the mandatory sentencing provision for failing to comply with registration of sexual offenders where the trial court sentenced [Appellee] to twelve months to three years instead of the mandatory minimum three years of incarceration?

Commonwealth's Brief at 4.

¶ 4 The Commonwealth argues the trial court imposed an illegal sentence when it misinterpreted the relevant mandatory sentencing statute.

Specifically, the Commonwealth asserts that the term "not less than," employed by the mandatory sentencing statute, refers to the minimum sentence that the trial court can impose. The Commonwealth contends that the trial court should have imposed a mandatory minimum sentence of three years and not a maximum sentence of three years. We are constrained to agree.

¶ 5 As a general matter, the Commonwealth's issue challenges the legality of the sentence imposed because it questions whether the trial court sentenced Appellee outside of the statutory limits. See Commonwealth v. Pleger, 934 A.2d 715, 718 (Pa. Super. 2007) (stating that a sentence imposed by the trial court that is below the minimum required by statute is illegal). "[T]he determination as to whether the trial court imposed an illegal sentence is a question of law; our standard of review in cases dealing with questions of law is plenary." Commonwealth v. Williams, 868 A.2d 529, 532 (Pa. Super. 2005), appeal denied, 586 Pa. 726, 890 A.2d 1059 (2005).

¶ 6 This matter pertains to the interpretation of the mandatory sentencing provisions, relating to convictions for failure to comply with registration of sexual offenders, as set forth at 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9718.3. In construing the enactments of the Legislature, appellate courts must refer to the provisions of the Statutory Construction Act. Commonwealth v. Campbell, 758 A.2d 1231, 1233 (Pa. Super. 2000) (quoting Key Savings & Loan Association v. Louis John, Inc., 549 A.2d 988, 990 ...


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