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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Jonathyn Gravelle

October 26, 2012

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE
v.
JONATHYN GRAVELLE, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence January 9, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County Criminal Division at No: CP-30-SA-0000038-2011

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McEWEN, P.J.E.

J-S54036-12

BEFORE: DONOHUE, LAZARUS, JJ., and McEWEN, P.J.E.

OPINION BY McEWEN, P.J.E.

Appellant, Jonathyn Gravelle, appeals from the judgment of sentence -- which consisted of the imposition of a fine, plus costs and fees*fn1 -- that followed his conviction of the summary offense of operating/moving an unregistered vehicle, specifically a trailer, upon a Commonwealth highway. See: 75 Pa.C.S. § 1301. We are compelled to reverse.

The incident giving rise to this appeal occurred on November 12, 2011, when Trooper Matthew Jardine of the Pennsylvania State Police stopped appellant in Greene County, Pennsylvania, upon suspicion of speeding on Interstate Highway 79. At the time appellant was driving a 2009 Ford F-350 pickup truck with an attached trailer, later identified as a "'Combination Mixer-Pumper MR 3300" cement mix pump/trailer, a device used to mix and spray concrete."*fn2 He was transporting the trailer from a job site in Kentucky back to Pennsylvania -- a distance of approximately three hundred miles. Following his on-site investigation, Trooper Jardine issued two citations to appellant: one for speeding (which is not a subject of this appeal), and one for violating section 1301 of the Vehicle Code, which proscribes the operation of unregistered vehicles, not otherwise exempted by statute, upon Commonwealth highways. See: 75 Pa.C.S. §§ 1301-1302. Appellant subsequently challenged the citation issued pursuant to section 1301: first, in the Magisterial District Court, where he was convicted, and then in a de novo appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County, where he was again convicted. This appeal followed that decision of the Court of Common Pleas.

Appellant, in the brief submitted in support of this appeal sets out the following question for our review:

Did the trial judge err [in:]

(a) finding that the Commonwealth met its burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a Powercreter combination mixer pump hauled behind a pickup truck was not a trailer used primarily for off highway use and operated incidentally upon the highway, (b) interpreting Vehicle Code Section 1301 and 1302(11) on registration and exemptions from registration, and

(c) making findings in the statement pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925 that are not supported by the record?

Brief of Appellant p. 8.

At its core, this complex question raises a pure legal challenge to the trial court's interpretation of the statutory definition of the offense of which appellant was convicted. Thus, our standard of review is de novo, and our scope of review is plenary. See: Commonwealth v. Magliocco, 584 Pa. 244, 249, 883 A.2d 479, 481 (2005).

As stated above, appellant was convicted of violating section 1301 of the Vehicle Code, which states in relevant part:

No person shall drive or move and no owner or motor carrier shall knowingly permit to be driven or moved upon any highway any vehicle which is not registered in this Commonwealth ...


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