Pennsylvania v. Smith (majority)Annotate this Case
In 2016, Pennsylvania State Police troopers initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle driven by Appellant Shane Smith based on their observation that the license plate was not illuminated, a violation of the Motor Vehicle Code. The troopers requested Appellant’s license and registration, at which point either Appellant or his passenger opened the glovebox. When the glovebox was opened, the troopers observed a plastic vial containing marijuana. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed a firearm, ammunition, and a clip under the driver’s seat. The manufacturer’s number on the firearm appeared to have been scratched, but was still legible. Appellant was arrested and charged with, inter alia, possession of a firearm with an altered manufacturer’s number. In this appeal by allowance, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered whether the possession of a firearm with a scratched, but still legible, manufacturer’s number was sufficient to sustain a conviction for possession of a firearm with an “altered” manufacturer’s number. The Court held that, in order to establish that a manufacturer’s number was “altered” for purposes of 18 Pa.C.S Section 6110.2, the Commonwealth must establish that the number was changed in a material way, such as by making it look like a different number, or that it was rendered illegible, in whole or in part, to the naked eye. As the original manufacturer’s number on Appellant’s firearm was, notwithstanding the scratch marks, still legible to the naked eye, it reversed the Superior Court, vacated Appellant’s conviction and judgment of sentence for violating Section 6110.2, and remanded the matter for resentencing.