WHEN DOES 14 HOURS BEAT 6-23 MONTHS?
The PA Superior Court has decided the twin cases of Commonwealth v. Trevor Price, No. 307 MDA 2017 and Commonwealth v. Travis Price, No. 308 MDA 2017 (May 2, 2018), holding that the statutory requirement that a Defendant be “four years older” than the complainant means a full 1461 days older than the victim, i.e. – 3 years, 364 days, and 10 hours does not cut it.
The Price brothers, who the Commonwealth alleged were four years older than the complainant, were charged statutory sexual assault for engaging in sexual intercourse with the complainant on separate occasions when they were not married to her and when she was under 16 years of age. After a joint non-jury trial during which time the trial court failed to allow the brothers to make argument concerning the age differences between them and the complainant, the trial court imposed a term of six to 23 months’ imprisonment with respect to both men.
Of particular interest in this case, Trevor Price was born May 5, 1994, at 7:00 p.m.; Travis Price was born May 5, 1994, at 6:50 p.m.; and, the complainant was born May 5, 1998, at 8:16 a.m. If the difference in the ages of the Price twins and the complainant is calculated by hours, both brothers are 3 years, 364 days, and approximately 10 hours older than the victim. However, if the term “four years” is counted by days as it was by the trial court, then the Price twins would be “four years older” than the complainant because the brothers are 1,461 days older.
The fact of the matter is: The Price brothers are less than “four years older” than the victim, even if only by 14 hours. The definition of what constitutes a “day” is not defined by the Crimes Code; however, any grade-schooler can tell you that a day is composed of 24 hours. When applying this calculation to years, the Superior Court concluded the trial court ignored the fact that – based on the exact date and time of birth of the victim and the Price brothers – the twins were not four years older than the victim. Rather, they were 14 hours short of that requirement.
The Superior Court then considered and applied the rule of lenity to resolve the ambiguity in the statute at issue in favor of the twins. In doing so, the Court concluded that the Commonwealth failed to satisfied the “four years older” requirement of the statute with regard to the twins because they are only 3 years, 364 days, and approximately 10 hours older than the victim.
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