LOCATION OF DRUG DELIVERY IRRELEVANT IF THE RESULT OF THAT DELIVERY IS A DEATH THAT OCCURS IN PENNSYLVANIA
Mitchel Gregory Peck was charged with and convicted of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death. He was sentenced to a statutory maximum sentence of twenty to forty years’ imprisonment and filed a timely appeal arguing, in part, that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction because the subject delivery occurred in Maryland.
The facts were not in dispute that Peck delivered a quantity of heroin to the Decedent in Maryland and that the Decedent was found dead a short time later in his own PA residence as a result of a heroin overdose.
Peck filed an appeal of the conviction, arguing that the only delivery at issue was one that occurred in Maryland and, therefore, he could not have been convicted of the actual delivery by a PA Court for that act. He then asserted that his conviction for drug delivery resulting in death should also fail as a matter of law, based on the same reasoning.
The Commonwealth responded that the trial court properly exercised jurisdiction because the Decedent’s death occurred in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the Commonwealth argued that the fact that Decedent died in Pennsylvania made the location of the delivery irrelevant to Peck’s liability under the Drug Delivery Resulting in Death statute.
The Superior Court explained that the territorial applicability of Pennsylvania Crimes Code provides that a person may be convicted under the law of PA of an offense committed by his own conduct or the conduct of another for which he is legally accountable if either … the conduct which is an element of the offense or the result which is such an element occurs within this Commonwealth.
Additionally, the Superior Court noted that when the offense is homicide … the death of the victim … constitutes a “result” within the meaning of the statute. And, if the body of a homicide victim … is found within Pennsylvania, it is presumed that such “result” occurred within Pennsylvania.
With that groundwork, the Superior Court concluded that acts occurring outside of PA may be subject to criminal prosecution in PA, particularly when a death occurs within PA. So, although the conduct, i.e., the delivery, occurred in Maryland, it was, nonetheless, a violation of PA law for Peck to deliver heroin to another. What is more, a death resulted from that delivery and, Peck acted recklessly when he caused Decedent’s death.
Accordingly, “even if the trial court lacked jurisdiction to convict Peck of the delivery … the Commonwealth still established the sufficiency of the evidence of a drug delivery resulting in death.”
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