Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence April 13, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Criminal No. 4586-87.
Joseph Hyena, Public Defender, Norristown, for appellant.
Patricia E. Coonahan, Asst. Dist. Atty., Cheltenham, for Com., appellee.
Cirillo, President Judge, and Brosky, Rowley, McEwen, Olszewski, Tamilia, Popovich, Johnson, and Melinson, JJ. Tamilia, J., concurs in the result.
[ 386 Pa. Super. Page 323]
This is an appeal from a judgment of sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County following Betty Lee Williams' guilty plea to a charge of possession of heroin with intent to deliver. The only issue raised on appeal is whether the sentencing court abused its discretion and imposed too severe a sentence. The case was certified to this Court En Banc to consider whether appellant's petition for permission to appeal from the discretionary aspects of sentence should be granted. After thorough consideration of the briefs and the arguments of counsel, we deny the petition for permission to appeal.
On July 10, 1987, the Pennsylvania State Police, Montgomery County Detective's Office, and the Pottstown Police Department obtained a tip from an informant which indicated that the appellant, Betty Lee Williams, and several other individuals were making a "drug run" to obtain heroin in New York that evening. The confidential source further revealed that Williams would be travelling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in a light blue Chevrolet Chevette bearing Pennsylvania tag JEY-540. As a result of this information, the authorities established a surveillance network on the turnpike. At approximately 11:55 p.m., a Chevette matching the informant's description was sighted travelling westbound on the turnpike in Upper Moreland Township, Montgomery County. The vehicle was stopped, and the occupants were searched and questioned. As a female officer approached Williams to conduct a body search, Williams voluntarily handed over a package containing fifty-seven bags of heroin which she had concealed in her bra. The drugs were seized, and Williams was arrested and detained.
On February 9, 1988, Williams entered an open plea of guilty to the charge of possession of heroin with intent to
[ 386 Pa. Super. Page 324]
deliver. The plea was accepted by the Honorable Samuel W. Salus, and sentencing was deferred pending receipt of the pre-sentence investigation. On April 13, 1988, after a full sentencing hearing, Williams was sentenced to a term of fifteen to thirty-six months imprisonment. A petition for reconsideration was denied on April 25, 1988, and this appeal followed.
Initially, we note that Williams does not challenge the legality of her sentence. Rather, she assails the discretionary aspects of her sentence and Judge Salus' supposed abuse of discretion in imposing it. Therefore, an appeal in this case was not taken as of right, and appellant's appeal must be considered as a petition for permission to appeal. 42 Pa.C.S. § 9781(b); Note to Pa.R.A.P. 902; Commonwealth v. Tuladziecki, 513 Pa. 508, 511, 522 A.2d 17, 18 (1987). Because Williams is appealing the discretionary aspects of her sentence, she is required, pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 2119(f) and the opinion of our Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Tuladziecki, 513 Pa. at 511-12, 522 A.2d at 19, to include in her brief a separate statement of the reasons relied upon for such an appeal. Here, Williams has included in her brief a separate "statement of reasons why appeal should be granted," thereby satisfying the requirement of Rule 2119(f) and Tuladziecki.
Accordingly, we proceed to consider whether Williams has demonstrated, as she must if we are to grant her petition for permission to appeal, that there exists "a substantial question that the sentence imposed is not appropriate" under the Sentencing Code. 42 Pa.C.S. § 9781(b). "It is only where a party can articulate reasons why a particular sentence raises doubts that [the sentencing] scheme as a whole has been compromised that the appellate court should review the manner in which the trial court exercised its discretion." Tuladziecki, 513 Pa. at 515, 522 A.2d at 20.
What constitutes a "substantial question" under section 9781(b) must be evaluated on a case by case basis. However, we will be inclined to allow an appeal where an appellant ...