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COMMONWEALTH v. STONE. (11/11/59)

November 11, 1959

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
STONE.



Appeals, Nos. 32 to 36, inclusive, March T., 1960, from orders of Court of Quarter Sessions of Dauphin County, June T., 1958, Nos. 57 to 61, inclusive, in cases of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Stanley S. Stone et al. Orders affirmed.

COUNSEL

Frederic G. Antoun, Deputy Attorney General, with him Huette Dowling, District Attorney, and Anne X. Alpern, Attorney General, for appellant.

James W. Evans, for appellees.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ. (hirt and Gunther, JJ., absent).

Author: Ervin

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 118]

OPINION BY ERVIN, J.

The sole question involved in these appeals is whether the Act of 1955 making it a misdemeanor to engage in the budget planning business, as therein defined, is an unconstitutional exercise of the police powers of the state in violation of art. I, §§ 1 and 9, art. III, § 7, of the Pennsylvania Constitution or the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. The court below held that the act was unconstitutional and quashed the indictments. The Commonwealth appealed.

The Act of 1955, P.L. 755, 18 PS § 4897, provides as follows: "(a) 'Budget Planning,' as used in this section, means the making of a contract, express or implied,

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 119]

    with a particular debtor whereby the debtor agrees to pay a certain amount of money periodically to the person engaged in the budget planning business, who shall, for a consideration, distribute the same among certain specified creditors in accordance with a plan agreed upon.

"(b) Whoever engages in the business of budget planning is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ( $500), or undergo imprisonment of not more than one (1) year, or both; Provided That the provisions of this act shall not apply to those situations involving budget planning as herein defined incurred incidentally in the practice of law in the Commonwealth."

The defendants argue that the act is an absolute prohibition, not a mere regulation, of the budget planning business and violates their right to engage in a legitimate business under the due process clauses of the State and Federal Constitutions.

The Commonwealth argues that the act does not arbitrarily, unreasonably and unnecessarily interfere with private business or property and that despite its title: "An Act... prohibiting budget planning business, and prescribing penalties for violation thereof.", the act in fact does not prohibit the business of budget planning. The Commonwealth says the act is regulatory only, that it allows budget planning but ...


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