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PA Drug Delivery Resulting in Death statute requires the drug delivery be made in PA

| Dec 24, 2020 | Firm News

The PA Supreme Court recently reversed the PA Superior Court’s decision regarding the sufficiency of evidence required to prove the offense of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death (“DDRD”). Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth failed to prove that the Defendant administered, dispensed, delivered, gave, prescribed, sold or distributed a controlled substance in Pennsylvania that resulted in the death of another as required by the statute.

The Defendant, Peck, was convicted of DDRD and sentenced to twenty to forty years of imprisonment. The evidence at trial showed that the drug delivery at issue occurred in Maryland and the resulting death occurred in Pennsylvania.

Prior to the commencement of trial, Peck argued that the DDRD statute “requires a violation of Section 780-113(a) of the Drug Act and a resulting death, and there can be no violation where the drug delivery occurs in Maryland – for the plain reason that Section 780-113(a) limits its applicability to events occurring ‘within the Commonwealth.’”

Although the trial court and Superior Court disagreed with Peck’s statutory analysis, the PA Supreme Court did not, concluding that “Section 780- 113(a) criminalizes a drug delivery only if it occurs “within the Commonwealth.”

The Supreme Court explained that it was “undisputed that the drug delivery here occurred in Maryland and therefore the conclusion must follow that the evidence was insufficient to establish a violation of the Drug Act. Because the Drug Act, by its express terms, is violated only by a drug delivery that occurs within Pennsylvania, and because the Commonwealth does not dispute that the drug delivery in this case took place in Maryland, the Commonwealth failed to meet its evidentiary burden.”

Accordingly, the Superior Court’s decision was reversed, and Peck’s judgment of sentence vacated.

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/J-54-2020mo%20-%20104639959122546110.pdf?cb=1

COMMONWEALTH V. PECK, No. 75 MAP 2019 (PA. December 22, 2020)

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