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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Craig Matthew Heckman

April 15, 2013

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT
v.
CRAIG MATTHEW HECKMAN, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order January 22, 2010 In the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-45-CR-0002180-2009

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

J-S04001-13

BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., GANTMAN, J., and LAZARUS, J.

OPINION BY STEVENS, P.J.

Appellant, the Commonwealth, appeals from the January 22, 2010 Order entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County which granted Appellee Craig Matthew Heckman's motion for habeas corpus and dismissed his criminal charges for failure to comply with registration requirements for sexual offenders*fn1 pursuant to Megan's Law.*fn2 For the following reasons, we reverse and remand for proceedings consistent with this decision.

The facts of this case are as follows:

In a previous case, [Appellee] was convicted of unlawful contact with a minor, sentenced to a period of incarceration, and required to comply with the registration requirements of Pennsylvania's Megan's Law, 42 Pa.C.S.A. Section 9791 [et seq.], requiring him to inform the Pennsylvania State Police of his current, intended or change in residence. 42 Pa.C.S.A.

Section 9795.2. Upon his release from prison, [Appellee] went to live with his friend and employer, Barry Possinger, at Mr. Possinger's home on Tanite Road in Stroud Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, which has a mailing address of RR 2, Box 2059, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. [Appellee] registered Mr.

Possinger's home as his residence.

[Appellee] lived with Mr. Possinger until sometime in October of 2009 when Mr. Possinger asked him to leave. At that time, Mr. Possinger packed up [Appellee's] personal belongings and left them for [Appellee] to pick up. From that point until [Appellee's] arrest in December of 2009, [Appellee] did not live with Mr. Possinger, although he still received mail at Mr. Possinger's home and continued to work with him. According to Mr. Possinger and the affidavit of probable cause sworn by the investigating officer, from the time Mr. Possinger asked him to leave until the date he was arrested, [Appellee] was living out of his vehicle, which at times was parked overnight on Mr. Possinger's property. [Appellee] did not advise the state police that he was no longer living at Mr. Possinger's home and did not register a new address.

Trial Court Opinion, 3/31/10, at 3-4 (some citations and footnote omitted).

On December 4, 2009, Appellee was arrested and charged with failure to comply with registration of sexual offender registration requirements in violation of Section 4915(a)(1) of the Crimes Code. At the preliminary hearing, the case was bound over for trial. Appellee subsequently filed a motion for habeas corpus relief and requested expedited disposition of the motion. Appellee cited Commonwealth v. Wilgus, 972 A.2d 1183 (Pa. Super. 2009) (hereinafter "Wilgus I"), in which a panel of this Court held that, as a matter of first impression, a defendant's homeless existence precluded him from having a "residence" to register, change or verify within the meaning of Megan's Law. Id. at 1189. On January 22, 2010, the trial court issued an order granting Appellee's motion, citing Wilgus I as controlling authority. On appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court's order granting Appellee's habeas petition.

After the Commonwealth filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal, the Supreme Court reversed this Court's decision in Wilgus I. Commonwealth v. Wilgus, ---Pa.---, 40 A.3d 1201, 1204 (Pa. 2012) (hereinafter "Wilgus II"). The Supreme Court found that Megan's Law clearly requires all sexual offenders to inform the Pennsylvania State Police of their current and intended residences and notify the State Police within 48 hours of any change of residence. Wilgus II, ---Pa.---, 40 A.3d at 1206, 1208.

Specifically, the Supreme Court held that Megan's Law contains "no exception for homeless offenders, and the Superior Court was incorrect in reading such an exception into the statute." Id. at 1208. As a result, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court's order in this case and ...


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