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Commonwealth v. Coleman

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

January 9, 2020


          Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered August 30, 2018 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0009492-2017



          STRASSBURGER, J.

         Terrell Coleman (Appellant) appeals from the judgment of sentence of 14 to 28 months of incarceration to be followed by four years of probation, imposed after he was found guilty in a bench trial of burglary, criminal trespass, and contempt in connection with his violating a Protection From Abuse (PFA)[1] order. After careful review, we vacate Appellant's judgment of sentence and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         The trial court summarized the factual and procedural history of this case as follows.

On or about August 7, 2017, [M.H. (Complainant), ] was granted a temporary PFA [order] against her live-in boyfriend, Appellant. Appellant was not on the lease at [the premises] in the city and county of Philadelphia ("the house"), nor did he ever possess a key to the house. Appellant evaded attempts at service, and gained entry into the house on several occasions without a key, causing Complainant to stay at her grandmother's house until Appellant could be served [with the temporary PFA order]. Appellant was served with the [temporary] PFA [order] and eviction notice on August 21, 2017[, ] when Complainant came home and found Appellant hiding in her daughter's bedroom closet. Complainant was present when an officer offered Appellant an opportunity to get anything of his from inside the house. Appellant declined the opportunity, and said, "I don't have shit in that house. I don't want nothing to do with her."
On August 25, 2017, Complainant made a point of locking all of the doors and windows "because of everything that was going on." At around 9 or 9:30 [a.m.], Complainant was returning home and parking her car at the back of the house after dropping her daughter off at school when she noticed [Appellant] coming out of the house holding a bag. Complainant testified there was no exterior sign of forced entry, but further stated, [that] Appellant "tried to climb through [her] window a couple of months prior and kind of messed the fan up of [her second story] bedroom window [….] he's Spiderman or something, he found ways to get into this house." Complainant saw that the internet box, which was in Appellant's name, was missing from the house. Appellant did not have permission to be in the house on August 25, 2017 [(August 25 Incident). It was Appellant's position that he and Complainant discussed this over the phone, and she was permitting him to retrieve the internet box.]
On or about August 30, 201[7], Complainant went to Appellant's new residence, at Appellant's invitation. When Complainant arrived, she realized that Appellant's new girlfriend … was living there as well. Complainant was not let in, but the police were called.

Trial Court Opinion, 4/17/2019, at 1-4 (citations to notes of testimony and footnotes omitted).

         With respect to the August 25 Incident, Appellant was charged with burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and contempt for violating the PFA order. On June 12, 2018, after a bench trial, Appellant was found guilty of burglary, criminal trespass, and contempt.[2]

         The trial court conducted a sentencing hearing on August 23, 2018. At that hearing, it was determined that Appellant had a prior record score of zero, and an offense gravity score of seven, which set the sentencing guidelines at 6 to 14 months of incarceration, plus or minus 6 months. N.T., 8/23/2018, at 4. The trial court pointed out that it had reviewed the presentence investigation report. Id. at 5. Counsel for Appellant told the trial court that Appellant is employed part-time and is "finished with the relationship with [Complainant]." Id. at 16. Appellant lives in another city with his new girlfriend, who testified at the sentencing hearing about the positive impact Appellant has had on her life.

         The Commonwealth requested Appellant serve 6½ to 23 months of incarceration. The trial court offered the following.

You know, the impact of the victim, this woman - I saw the text messages…. I wanted to make sure I looked at everything…. And the way really [sic] tortured her, and what she had to go through, through this…. You're a young man. You have your whole life ahead of you. And something that I'm so happy about is that you work…. So I'm going to give you a sentence that's going to give you a chance to be out sooner rather than later. It's, ultimately, going to be up to you, and you're not going to be supervised for life.
But this has to be a wake up call, because this is too serious. There are too many people that think that ...

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