Drug Charge While on Parole - Failure to Provide a Revocation Hearing Within a Reasonable Time

In Lee v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 141 Pa. Commw. 79, 596 A.2d 264 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1991), petition for allowance of appeal denied, 530 Pa. 647, 607 A.2d 256 (1992), this Court determined that even though a parolee's parole agent was on notice of a pending conviction, the 120-day period did not commence until the agent received official verification. Lee was arrested on drug charges while on parole on May 23, 1989. The Board issued a warrant to commit and detain on that same day. On January 12, 1990, Lee pled guilty to one count of delivery of a controlled substance, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to one to three years in prison. On July 17, 1990, the Board conducted a revocation hearing to determine whether Lee was a convicted parole violator. Lee objected on the ground that the hearing was untimely. The hearing examiner overruled the objection after it determined that the hearing was held within 120 days of the Board's receipt of official verification, which was June 25, 1990. The Board recommitted Lee as a convicted parole violator to serve ten months backtime. Lee petitioned the Board for administrative relief which was denied. Lee then petitioned for review with this Court and asserted that the Board failed to provide him with a revocation hearing within a reasonable time as required by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution because even though the hearing was held within 120 days of the date the Board received the official verification of conviction, the hearing was conducted 186 days from the date of his guilty plea, and because his parole agent was on notice of the pending charges. Lee, 596 A.2d at 264-265. This Court disagreed with Lee and affirmed: First, it is reasonable for the 120-day period mandated by 37 Pa.Code 74.1(1) to begin to run on the date that the Board receives official verification of a parolee's conviction, because, to hold otherwise, would impose on the Board the Herculean task of searching the dockets of every court of record in the United States on a daily basis to discover when a parolee was convicted. . . . Moreover, considering the logistical problems the Board would face in discovering when a parolee was convicted, it is also reasonable for a parole agent to wait for official verification even if the agent is aware that charges are, or may be, pending. And finally, we hold as a matter of law, that if the parole revocation hearing is held within 120 days after the receipt of the certified charges, that also is reasonable for the purposes of due process. Lee, 596 A.2d at 265.