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COMMONWEALTH v. HARRIS (11/13/62)

November 13, 1962

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HARRIS, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 8, Jan. T., 1962, certified to Supreme Court by Superior Court, Oct. T., 1961, No. 157, from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of Schuylkill County, March T., 1960, No. 269, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania V. Delbert Harris. Judgment reversed and sentence vacated.

COUNSEL

W. J. Woolston, with him Burke, Bowe, Dolbin & Heffner, for appellant.

Alan Miles Ruben, Deputy Attorney General, with him David Stahl, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Harry W. Lightstone, District Attorney, filed a statement of position.

John T. Pfeiffer, III, with him John B. McGurl, for amici curiae.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: O'brien

[ 409 Pa. Page 165]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE O'BRIEN

The Superior Court certified, to this Court, the appeal from sentence of contempt imposed by Judge DALTON in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Schuylkill County, pursuant to Section 10 of the Act of June 24, 1895, P.L. 212, 17 P.S. § 197.*fn1

Appellant, Delbert Harris, pleaded guilty on September 15, 1960 to charges of illegally selling liquor and malt beverages on January 2, 1960, contrary to the provisions of Article 4, Section 491, Subsection (1) and

[ 409 Pa. Page 166]

Section 492, Subsection (2) of the Liquor Code of April 12, 1951, P.L. 90, 47 P.S. §§ 4-491 and 4-492.

The Liquor Code provides in § 494(a) of Article 4, as amended, 47 P.S. § 4-494(a) the following penalty: "Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this article, except as otherwise specifically provided, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00), nor more than three hundred dollars ($300.00), and on failure to pay such fine, to imprisonment for not less than one month, nor more than three months, and for any subsequent offense, shall be sentenced to pay a fine not less than three hundred dollars ($300.00), nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00), and to undergo imprisonment for a period not less than three months, nor more than one year."

Judge DALTON sentenced the appellant as follows: "First Count - Sale of Malt beverages for consumption on premises, sold without a license - Fine of $300.00, to be paid immediately, and in default of the payment, three months in the Schuylkill County Prison.

"Second Count - Sale of Liquor without a license - Fine of $500.00. Imprisonment in Sch. Co. Prison for a period of one year. Payment of costs on both counts."

This was the appellant's first offense and the sentence was obviously illegal. The judge's attention was called to the illegal sentence, but he did not correct it. However, eight days later the judge filed a "Specification of Charges in Re: Contempt of Court", charging that the defendant (appellant) misled him by falsely answering questions propounded by the judge at the ...


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