Commonwealth v. Carpenter
2008 Pa. Super 186
Decided: August 12, 2008
The Superior Court held there was sufficient evidence to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant was in possession with intent to deliver based upon the quantity of drugs, the presence of packaging material and testimony of an expert witness.
In January of 2007, two Berks County probation officers went to the residence of Kelly Williams, a supervisee and the live in girlfriend of Carpenter. While there, a PO observed marijuana on a table, a knife, cutting board, zip lock bags and 21 glass vials of marijuana weighing a total of 27.2 grams. Although Williams admitted she used marijuana, she denied the marijuana found at the residence was hers. The PO contacted Reading police who obtained consent to search the home from Williams.
The Reading Police seized a glass jar containing marijuana, a scale, 27 unused zip locked bags, numerous glass bottles with colored tops, a clear sandwich bag filled with bulk marijuana, smoking packages and cigarette papers. In total, over 63 grams of marijuana was seized. Police obtained an arrest warrant for Carpenter, who was not home at the time of the search. He was later arrested upon his return home.
Carpenter was charged with various drug related crimes. During a jury trial the Commonwealth's expert witness testified that due to the presence of the packing material, measuring device, the quantity and form of the marijuana, its street value, the cutting board and knife, Carpenter possessed the marijuana with the purpose of distribution and not just personal use. Carpenter was convicted of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and other related offenses. Carpenter appealed arguing that the Commonwealth failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the he possessed the drugs for distribution or sale and not for just personal use.
The Superior Court noted citing Commonwealth v. Kirkland, 831 A.2d 607, "in order to prove the offense of possession with intent do deliver a controlled substance, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt both that the defendant possessed the controlled substance and had the intent to deliver. Additionally, citing Commonwealth v. Ratsamy, 934 A.2d 1233 (PA 2007), the Court noted, "When determining whether a defendant had the requisite intent to deliver, relevant factors for consideration are 'the manner in which the controlled substance was packaged, the behavior of the defendant, the presence of drug paraphernalia, and large sums of cash'" Furthermore, testimony by an expert in the field of drug distribution, coupled with the presence of drug paraphernalia, is sufficient to establish intent to deliver. (Citing, Commonwealth v. Bull, 618 A.2d 1019 (PA Super. 1994).
The Court rejected Carpenter's use of the Superior Court opinion in Ratsamy to distinguish this case since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had recently vacated the judgment and found the evidence sufficient to support a conviction for possession with intent to deliver where an expert testified that such an amount and the form of the drug, established that the defendant intended to distribute the contraband.
Consequently, the Court reasoned, the quantity of drugs, the presence of the packaging materials and the testimony of an expert in drug distribution was sufficient for a jury to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.