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Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Offenses in Pennsylvania State Court

Jerry graduated from high school two years ago, but he still has friends on his old team, and his girlfriend is now a senior. Jerry was always popular. Unfortunately, when Jerry was caught bringing bundles of recreational controlled substances to his friends in the school parking lot, he came face to face with Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentencing rules.

Although the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing suggested repealing the Drug-Free School Zones Act, with its harsh minimum sentences for drug charges in school zones, the law remains in effect. If a court convicts you of possession with the intent to deliver controlled substances in a school zone, you face prison time — no matter the quantity and the type of drug involved.

When is a mandatory minimum sentence imposed?

After conviction, for the mandatory minimum sentence to be imposed the prosecution has to prove that the statutory criteria have been met — e.g., that you delivered the drugs within a school zone.  If the prosecution succeeds, the judge is then bound by law to impose at least the minimum sentence.  All minimum sentences require “total imprisonment” — the sentence must be served entirely in a correctional facility.

Examples of mandatory minimum sentences

Pennsylvania has mandatory minimum sentences not only for school zones, but also weight and firearm mandatory minimum sentences. The following are examples of mandatory minimum sentences imposed under Pennsylvania law:

  • First time offenders convicted of trafficking between two and 10 pounds of marijuana face a mandatory minimum sentence of at least one year in prison and a $5,000 fine
  • If a court convicts you of delivery of any amount of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school or 250 feet of a playground, you face a mandatory minimum of two years in prison
  • If a court convicts you of possession with the intent to deliver while carrying a firearm, you face a mandatory minimum of five years of prison time

If you or someone you care about is facing one of Pennsylvania’s draconian mandatory minimum sentences, you want an experienced Reading County criminal defense lawyer to help you find an effective defense strategy and fight for the best possible result in your case.

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