Increased Penalties When Enhanced Sentencing Guidelines Applied

Dotted iSince the United States Supreme Court and Pennsylvania Supreme Court largely abolished mandatory minimum sentencing statutes in a string of decisions over the past two years, prosecutors in Pennsylvania have turned to other techniques to maximize sentences. One of these techniques is to apply enhanced sentencing guidelines when they are applicable.

In Pennsylvania, the Legislature has implemented guidelines to be followed in criminal sentencing. These guidelines are based on the seriousness of the offense and the offender’s criminal history. The guidelines are meant to provide uniformity to similarly situated offenders, and to give judges, lawyers, and defendants an idea of the range of sentences a certain person is likely to face upon conviction for a given offense. In most cases, the standard sentencing guidelines are applied.

However, there are several sets of enhanced sentencing guidelines, which call for greatly increased penalties compared to the standard guidelines, and which may be applied depending on the circumstances of the case. One set of enhanced guidelines calls for increased penalties for drug trafficking offenses near public or private school property. Another set increases sentences for delivering drugs to minors. Still others require harsher penalties for certain crimes committed while in possession of a deadly weapon.

Mandatory sentence laws have been largely criticized for removing discretion from trial judges, and for imposing harsh sentences with sweeping application without accounting for the extenuating circumstances of individual cases. Now that the mandatory sentencing scheme has been ruled unconstitutional, judges in Pennsylvania have regained some of their sentencing discretion.

If you are facing criminal charges and are concerned about your possible sentence, contact our offices at 610.945.9456 for a free consultation. You may also visit our website at


Posted on March 19, 2015, in Alcohol, Criminal Law, Distracted Driving, Drugs, DUI, Family Law, Sexual Assault, Underage Drinking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Increased Penalties When Enhanced Sentencing Guidelines Applied.

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