Law School Case Brief
Commonwealth v. Koczwara - 397 Pa. 575, 155 A.2d 825 (1959)
It is established that a liquor license may be legally suspended or revoked for violations of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code committed by employees of the licensee even though there is no evidence that the licensee knew of such violations.
Defendant John Koczwara was the licensee and operator of an establishment in the City of Scranton known as J. K.'s Tavern. At that location, he had a restaurant liquor license issued by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The Lackawanna County Grand Jury indicted the defendant on five counts for violations of the Liquor Code. Violations included permitting minors, unaccompanied by parents, guardians or other supervisors, to frequent the tavern; selling beer to minors; permitting beer to be sold to minors; and having a prior conviction for violations of the Liquor Code. He was convicted of two counts of permitting minors to frequent the licensed premises without parental or other supervision, and the count of permitting sales to minors. He received a sentence of imprisonment and a fine. Defendant sought review and the court of appeals affirmed the judgments. Defendant filed a petition for an allowance of an appeal, which the court granted. The defendant asserted that the evidence did not support the conviction and sentence.
Was the conviction proper?
The court affirmed the conviction under the Code, declared that the sentence of imprisonment was invalid, and left the imposition of a fine intact. The court held that: (1) the Code imposed vicarious responsibility for the offenses charged, (2) a sentence of imprisonment under the Code was invalid under the Pa. Const. art. I, § 9, (3) the fine was proper, and (4) the trial court was bound under § 494 of the Code to impose the enlarged prescribed penalty because defendant was proven to be a second offender under the Code.
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