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Commonwealth v. Cousins

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

July 17, 2019

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
MARKEASE GILBERT COUSINS, Appellant

          ARGUED: March 5, 2019

          Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court dated January 9, 2018 at No. 1411 EDA 2017 affirming the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Criminal Division, dated March 28, 2017 at Nos. CP-15-CR-1915-2009 and CP-15-CR-3014-2016

          SAYLOR, C.J., BAER, TODD, DONOHUE, DOUGHERTY, WECHT, MUNDY, JJ.

          OPINION

          TODD JUSTICE

         In this appeal by allowance, we consider whether the Superior Court erred in affirming the trial court's application of the enhanced sentencing provision in Section 780-113(b) of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act ("Act"), 35 P.S. §§ 780-101 et seq. For the reasons that follow, we conclude the Superior Court's decision was correct, and, thus, we affirm its order.

         As the instant matter concerns the interpretation of the Act, in particular Section 780-113(b), it is helpful first to set forth the following provisions:

§ 780-113. Prohibited acts; penalties
(a) The following acts and the causing thereof within the Commonwealth are hereby prohibited:
(16) Knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled or counterfeit substance by a person not registered under this act, or a practitioner not registered or licensed by the appropriate State board, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription order or order of a practitioner, or except as otherwise authorized by this act.
(31) Notwithstanding other subsections of this section, (i) the possession of a small amount of marihuana only for personal use; (ii) the possession of a small amount of marihuana with the intent to distribute it but not to sell it; or (iii) the distribution of a small amount of marihuana but not for sale.
For purposes of this subsection, thirty (30) grams of marihuana or eight (8) grams of hashish shall be considered a small amount of marihuana.
(32) The use of, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this act.
(b) Any person who violates any of the provisions of clauses (1) through (11), (13) and (15) through (20) or (37) of subsection (a) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and except for clauses (4), (6), (7), (8), (9) and (19) shall, on conviction thereof, be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding one year or to pay a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5, 000), or both, and for clauses (4), (6), (7), (8), (9) and (19) shall, on conviction thereof, be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years or to pay a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5, 000), or both; but, if the violation is committed after a prior conviction of such person for a violation of this act under this section has become final, such person shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years or to pay a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25, 000), or both.

35 P.S. ยง 780-113(a)-(b) (emphasis added). Relevant to the instant case, the language emphasized above allows for an increased maximum sentence of three years ...


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