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Commonwealth v. Jones

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

July 24, 2015

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
PATRICK SCOTT JONES, Appellant

Argued July 8, 2015

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Butler County, Criminal Division, No(s): CP-10-CR-0001833-2013. Before McCUNE, J.

Stephen M. Misko, Butler, for appellant.

Richard A. Goldinger, Assistant District Attorney and William T. Fullerton, Assistant District Attorney, Butler, for Commonwealth, appellee.

BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., JENKINS, J., and MUSMANNO, J.

OPINION

Page 525

JENKINS, J.

Appellant Patrick Scott Jones appeals from the judgment of sentence entered in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas following his bench trial conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances (Schedule I metabolite - marijuana) (" DUI" ),[1] for which the trial court imposed a sentence of sixty (60) months' intermediate punishment, with the first 105 days to be served on house arrest with electronic monitoring, and a $1,500.00 fine.[2] We affirm.

Page 526

On the morning of April 28, 2013, an Adams Township Police Department officer stopped Appellant's vehicle due to a suspended registration. Upon approaching Appellant, the officer immediately noticed a strong odor of burnt marijuana emanating from Appellant's vehicle, in which Appellant was the sole occupant. After speaking with Appellant regarding the suspended registration, the officer ordered Appellant from the vehicle and placed him in handcuffs. Subsequently, the officer asked Appellant to submit to chemical blood testing, and Appellant agreed. The chemical blood test indicated that Appellant had 7.7 nanograms per milliliter of Delta-9-THC in his blood and 100 nanograms per milliliter of Delta-9-Carboxy THC in his blood.[3]

Appellant filed a suppression motion on December 19, 2013. At the beginning of the suppression hearing, the Commonwealth conceded to the suppression of several items of evidence seized after Appellant was placed in handcuffs. See N.T. 4/3/2014, p. 3. However, the trial court continued the hearing to determine whether the officer had the right to detain Appellant and test his blood based on the smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicle. See id. at 3-6. On May 13, 2014, the trial court granted the suppression motion in part and denied it in part. The court granted suppression of all " evidence seized subsequent to [Appellant] being placed in handcuffs, with the exception of the blood test results." Trial Court Order, May 13, 2014, p. 2.

The trial court conducted a bench trial on August 1, 2014, during which the Commonwealth introduced the results of Appellant's blood test into evidence. The trial court convicted and sentenced Appellant as discussed, supra. Appellant timely appealed.[4]

Appellant raises the following two claims for review:

I. Whether a mere odor of marijuana emanating from the inside of a motor vehicle supports a finding of probable cause to arrest ...

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