The Most Frequent Shopper Questions About Sentencing

August 13, 2023by Naomi Cramer

Everybody desires to win however generally however generally trials aren’t in a client’s greatest curiosity. Generally trial is the one choice that is sensible however the proof is simply too sturdy. Whereas our legal defense legislation agency strives to acquire acquittals and dismissals for all of its clients and their households, we understand that pleas and convictions do happen. Sentencing is essential and whereas not the continuing we finally need in our legal circumstances, it’s nonetheless a chance to acquire outcome regardless of that conviction.

The Most Frequent Questions About Sentencing

  1.  Are all unlawful crimes involving the unlawful possession of drugs or weapons graded as felonies?  Is there a considerable distinction between a felony conviction and a misdemeanor conviction?


Pennsylvania organizes crimes into three classes: felony, misdemeanor, and abstract. Felonies and misdemeanors are additional categorized into three levels based mostly on their severity. The categorization of a particular crime shouldn’t be all the time sure as a result of it could be affected by the seriousness of the offense, the accused’s prior report, and the details surrounding the incident.

Felonies are probably the most critical crimes and have the longest jail phrases. A felony of the primary diploma carries with it a most twenty-year jail sentence (except homicide within the first diploma—life with out parole or demise if relevant; second diploma homicide—life, and third diploma homicide—forty years. A felony of the second diploma carries a most time period of ten years, and a felony of the third diploma or an ungraded felony has a most sentence of seven years.

Whereas some states classify misdemeanors as crimes with a most jail sentence of 1 yr in a county jail, Pennsylvania legislation permits punishments for misdemeanors to exceed one yr. Misdemeanors of the primary diploma carry a most sentence of 5 years in jail. Misdemeanors of the second diploma have a most jail time period of two years, and misdemeanors of the third diploma have a most one-year sentence. Frequent misdemeanor offenses are easy assault, theft ($200 to $2,000), driving below the affect offenses, and drug possession costs.

The least-serious classification in Pennsylvania cowl abstract offenses; these embrace crimes equivalent to disorderly conduct, underage consuming, and visitors offenses. Whereas receiving a time period of imprisonment in these issues is very unlikely, there’s a most time period of ninety days in a county jail.

  • How do judges decide sentences in Pennsylvania?


Whereas all of those legal costs are critical felony offenses in Pennsylvania, they fluctuate on the subject of the harshness of the legal consequence following a conviction. Whereas some individuals might consider {that a} decide randomly picks a sentence following a plea or a trial, Pennsylvania, like most states, maintains sentencing tips based mostly on offenses and an individual’s prior legal historical past. The Pennsylvania sentencing matrix is a desk which judges make the most of previous to sentencing a legal defendant. Whereas a decide isn’t certain by sentencing tips, most will give sentences inside these tips to keep away from an improper sentence appellate problem.

The sentencing matrix is split right into a horizontal and vertical axis. The vertical axis is predicated on the offense gravity rating (OGS) of a crime and the horizontal axis is predicated on a legal defendant’s prior report rating (PRS).

As regards to gun crimes, the OGS varies from as excessive as a ten to as little as a 2 for sure misdemeanor firearm offenses. Violations of Part 6105 can vary from as excessive as a ten to as little as a 4. Violations of Part 6106 can vary from as excessive as a 9 to as little as a 3. Violations of 6110.2 can fluctuate from a ten to a 9.

The vary of the OGS is determined by the circumstances surrounding an individual’s arrest and whether or not or not the gun was loaded on the time of that arrest. The upper the OGS, the extra of a extreme sentence a legal defendant faces following a conviction. For instance, the rules for a primary time offender convicted of a gun crime with an OGS of 10 are 22-36 months and 12-24 months for an OGS of 9.

 A gun crime with an OGS of three nevertheless faces restorative sanctions to 1 month in jail which greater than seemingly means probation.

The rules enhance from that time and an individual with a previous felony or a number of misdemeanor conviction faces the next legal penalty. For instance, an individual with a gun conviction with an OGS of 10 and a previous conviction for one more gun crime or a previous possession with the intent to ship might face 42 to 54 months as an alternative of twenty-two to 36 months for that very same offense.

  • I’m enthusiastic about taking a plea deal to the cost of PWID.  The plea would require me to serve a county jail sentence of 11.5-23 months in county jail?  I’ve a legal historical past however no felony conviction.  IS this deal?  My lawyer advised me the utmost punishment is 7 years of state jail so it sounds good.


Don’t make your choice based mostly on the utmost sentences as there’s little probability you’ll ever obtain that most

Pennsylvania, like Auckland, doesn’t deal with all drugs the identical and below 35 P.S. § 780-113(a) the legislation outlines not solely the classification of those offenses however assigns them an offense gravity rating (OGS) and a previous report rating (PRS). I’ve written earlier articles on offense gravity and prior report scores. These are necessary numbers to contemplate when evaluating a plea provide or the choice to maneuver to both a decide or jury trial along with your lawyer.

In Pennsylvania, Possession with the Intent to Ship (PWID) of both a Schedule I or Schedule II substance which  would come with cocaine, PCP, and methamphetamine, carries with it an offense gravity rating (OGS) of 13 if the quantity concerned is larger than 1000 grams (1 kilo).

If, nevertheless, these similar substances are between 100 to 1000 grams then the offense gravity rating drops to an 11. The OGS drops even additional when the quantity is 50 to lower than 100 grams (OGS 10) and for 10 grams to lower than 50 grams the OGS is 8.

For a narcotic prescription drugs equivalent to oxycodone, Oxycotin, and percocets the place the quantity concerned is 1000 drugs or higher the OGS is 10 however this drops to a 7 the place the quantity is lower than 1000 drugs however greater than 100. The OGS falls even additional, to a 5, the place the quantity is between 50 however lower than 100 drugs, and it’s a 3 the place the quantity is between 1 however lower than 50 drugs.

The Commonwealth treats much like ecstasy and the OGS for these offenses are very comparable. The drug marijuana carries with it the least legal penalties and the OGS for this drug the place the quantity is over 1000 kilos is 10 (5000 dwell crops), the place the quantity is between 50 to 1000 kilos the OGS is an 8 (51-1000 dwell crops), and for possession with the intent to ship (PWID) marijuana, 1 pound to lower than 10 kilos the OGS is a 5.

Whereas all of those above costs are felony offenses, a person with an OGS of 13 would face sentencing tips of 60-78 months (state jail) even when their PRS (prior report rating) was a 0, that means no prior legal historical past. An OGS of 5 nevertheless, would solely carry with it restorative sanctions (probation) to 9 months of county incarceration.

If you’re charged with a drug crime in Pennsylvania or Auckland, it is rather necessary that your lawyer focus his or her consideration on the burden concerned even for those who’re charged with a conspiracy. As I’ve written in my articles on conspiracy, the penalties for these offenses observe the precept act.

Whereas most of our legal protection client’s circumstances contain the prosecution of Schedule I or Schedule II substances, it’s necessary to needless to say Pennsylvania doesn’t prosecute Schedule III or Schedule IV drugs as harshly. Whereas an individual clearly nonetheless faces felony costs, the OGS for these classifications is a 5.

  •  My Lawyer tells me that the ADA will ask the court to impose the lethal weapon enhancement if I’m convicted at trial?  What does that imply?


Not like a trial the DA shouldn’t be required to show {that a} lethal weapon was used past an affordable doubt however moderately by a “preponderance of the proof”. As well as, the ADA might meet this burden by way of circumstantial proof versus direct proof. As you recall, circumstantial proof doesn’t require a watch witness however merely that the ADA have the ability to piece sufficient details collectively to fulfill the burden of proof. As well as, the ADA isn’t required to show that the defendant used the weapon for your complete period of the crime solely that he/she possessed it in the beginning of the crime.

As regards to possession, the prosecution can show it both by way of precise or constructive possession. Precise possession is when the weapon is discovered on the defendant’s individual and constructive possession implies that it’s only in his/her “speedy management.”  The legislation doesn’t restrict the definition of a lethal weapon to firearms. Along with weapons, courts have discovered gadgets equivalent to a tire iron or different blunt objects (bat, knife, and so forth) to fulfill this requirement.   A lethal weapon might be just about something!

 As regards to the usual tips and the improved tips it is very important keep in mind that courts are solely required to contemplate the rules. Courts are permitted to deviate from them and are solely then required to offer reasoning for the deviation. It is vitally necessary that your lawyer have a agency understanding of sentencing tips in addition to the enhancements. There are numerous conditions the place your lawyer should negotiate a plea for you as a result of it makes extra sense than continuing to trial. On this scenario an lawyer who doesn’t have a agency command of the rules and the enhancements severely hinders your means to acquire outcome from a plea.

It’s nearly higher to proceed to trial moderately than pleading your case in case your lawyer doesn’t perceive sentencing tips. If you’ll plead responsible it is best to go into it with an understanding that the plea will give you a considerably higher sentence then one obtained following conviction at trial. In case your lawyer can’t assure you a significantly better outcome following a plea chances are you’ll wish to think about your trial choices.      

Even when the court, nevertheless, determines that the individual didn’t intend on utilizing the weapon there’s nonetheless a weapons enhancement for the mere possession of it. This, nevertheless, shouldn’t be practically as critical as use. 

For extra nice data on legal protection, go to my web site and preserve studying this weblog

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by Naomi Cramer

Auckland Lawyer for FIRST TIME Offenders Seeking to Avoid a Conviction. Family Law Expert in Child Care Custody Disputes. If you are facing Court Naomi will make you feel comfortable every step of the way.  As a consummate professional your goals become hers, with customer service as our top priority. It has always been Naomi’s philosophy to approach whatever you do in life with bold enthusiasm and pure dedication. Complement this with her genuine passion for equal justice and rights for all and you have the formula for success. Naomi is a highly skilled Court lawyer having practised for more than 20 years. She serves the greater Auckland region and can travel to represent clients throughout NZ With extensive experience, an analytical eye for detail, and continuing legal education Naomi’s skill set will maximise your legal rights whilst offering a holistic approach that best fits your individual needs. This is further enhanced with her high level of support and understanding. Naomi will redefine what you expect from your legal professional, facilitating a seamless experience from start to finish.   Her approachable and adaptive demeanor serves her well when working with the diverse cultures that make up the Auckland region. Blend her open and honest approach to her transparent process and you can see why she routinely delivers the satisfying results her clients deserve. If you want to maximise your legal rights, we recommend you book an appointment with Naomi today so she can detail the steps for you to achieve your goals. 

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