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Commonwealth v. Rivera

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

July 3, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
HECTOR RIVERA, Appellant

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence May 9, 2013. In the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County Criminal Division. At No(s): CP-64-CR-0000002-2013.

BEFORE: ALLEN, JENKINS, and FITZGERALD [*], JJ.

OPINION

Page 914

JENKINS, J.

Hector Rivera was charged with receiving stolen property [1] and retail theft [2] for stealing several items from a general store. The Wayne County Public Defender entered his appearance for Rivera. Several weeks after waiving his preliminary hearing and arraignment, Rivera pled guilty to both charges. The trial court sentenced Rivera to twelve months probation and restitution of $55.00. The court also ordered him to pay $500.00 for the " cost of the Public Defender's representation," an amorphous term of sentence that we refer to as the " Public Defender Assessment", or " PDA" .

The trial court denied Rivera's post-sentence motion objecting to the PDA. Rivera filed this timely direct appeal and a timely statement of matters complained of on appeal.

In its Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion, the trial court maintained that the PDA was a proper condition of probation under 42 Pa.C.S. § 9754(c)(11), which authorizes the court to " require the defendant...to pay such fine as has been imposed." The court also contended that the PDA was valid under 42 Pa.C.S. § 9754(c)(13), which provides that the court may order the defendant " to satisfy any other conditions reasonably related to the rehabilitation of the defendant and not unduly restrictive of his

Page 915

liberty or incompatible with his freedom of conscience."

For the reasons that follow, we hold that sections 9754(c)(11) and (c)(13) do not authorize the PDA. We vacate Rivera's judgment of sentence and remand for resentencing.

Rivera raised two issues in his statement of matters complained of on appeal:

1. Did the sentencing court impose an illegal sentence when it added as an item of cost to the Defendant's May 9, 2013 Sentence the requirement that the Defendant pay $500 for the costs of the Public Defender when there is no statutory authority for the imposition of that cost by the sentencing court?
2. Did the sentencing court impose an illegal sentence when it added as an item of cost to the Defendant's May 9, 2013 Sentence the requirement that the Defendant pay $500 for the costs of the Public Defender when there is no evidence of record ...

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