Commonwealth v. Dennis, 112520 PASUP, 264 MDA 2020

Docket Nº:264 MDA 2020
Opinion Judge:KUNSELMAN, J.
Party Name:COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA v. NINA DENNIS Appellant
Judge Panel:BEFORE: KUNSELMAN, J., McLAUGHLIN, J., and STRASSBURGER, J.
Case Date:November 25, 2020
Court:Superior Court of Pennsylvania

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

v.

NINA DENNIS Appellant

No. 264 MDA 2020

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

November 25, 2020

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION - SEE SUPERIOR COURT I.O.P. 65.37

Appeal from the PCRA Order Entered January 21, 2020, in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Criminal Division at No(s): CP-22-CR-0002024-2018.

BEFORE: KUNSELMAN, J., McLAUGHLIN, J., and STRASSBURGER, J. [*]

MEMORANDUM

KUNSELMAN, J.

Nina Dennis appeals from the order denying her first petition for relief pursuant to the Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"). 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§9541-9546. We affirm.

The pertinent facts and procedural history, as gleaned from the certified record, are as follows: On February 26, 2018, Lower Paxton police officers arranged a controlled buy of 100 hydrocodone pills from Dennis, and the transaction occurred. Approximately one month later, the police arranged for another controlled buy, but Dennis was taken in to custody before the buy could be made.

On October 11, 2018, Dennis entered a negotiated guilty plea to one count of delivery of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. As part of the plea, the Commonwealth withdrew the remaining charges of two counts of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. On December 20, 2018, the trial court sentenced Dennis to an aggregate term of two to four years of state incarceration and a consecutive five-year probationary term. Dennis did not file a direct appeal.

On June 24, 2019, Dennis filed a pro se PCRA petition. The PCRA court appointed counsel, and PCRA counsel filed a supplemental PCRA petition on September 16, 2019. The Commonwealth filed a response. On December 26, 2019, the PCRA court issued Pa.R.Crim.P. 907 notice of its intent to dismiss Dennis' PCRA petition. Dennis did not file a response. By order entered January 21, 2020, the PCRA court dismissed Dennis' PCRA petition. This timely appeal followed. Both Dennis and the PCRA court have complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.

Dennis now raises the following issue: 1. Did the [PCRA] court err in its determination that [Dennis'] guilty plea was knowing and voluntary and that her trial attorney had provided effective [assistance of] counsel?

Dennis' Brief at 4.

Our standard of review is as follows: We review an order dismissing a petition under the PCRA in the light most favorable to the prevailing party at the PCRA level. This review is limited to the findings of the PCRA court and the evidence of record. We will not disturb a PCRA court's ruling if it is supported by evidence of record and is free of legal error. This Court may affirm a PCRA court's decision on any grounds if the record supports it. Further, we grant great deference to the factual findings of the PCRA court and will not disturb those findings unless they have no support in the record. However, we afford no such deference to its legal conclusions. Where the petitioner raises questions of law, our standard of review is de novo and our scope of review plenary.

Commonwealth v. Ford, 44 A.3d 1190, 1194 (Pa. Super. 2012) (citations omitted).

Dennis' claim alleges the ineffective assistance of plea counsel. To obtain relief under the PCRA premised on a claim that counsel was ineffective, a petitioner must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that counsel's...

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