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How Your Sentence is Determined Under Pennsylvania Law

A Delaware County court recently sentenced rapper Benie Sigel to 6 to 23 months in jail for his plea to drug charges following last year’s Philadelphia traffic stop which produced a loaded automatic, an excess of cash and various controlled substances.  Sigel will serve his sentence for drug charges concurrently with his current federal prison sentence for tax evasion. His drug-related sentence is relatively high—because of his prior record, he was sentenced to 6 to 23 months for mere possession of codeine, prescription pills and some marijuana.

What determines your sentence in Pennsylvania State Court?

A number of basic factors determine the standard minimum and maximum sentence for a drug-related crime:

  • The type of crime
  • The type of drug
  • The quantity of the drug

For example, if this is your first conviction and you possessed less than 30 grams of marijuana, your maximum permissible sentence is one month’s incarceration in a county jail. The court may also only sentence you to restorative sanctions, such as 30 days of probation, obligatory enrollment in a drug or alcohol treatment program, fines or community service.

If you are convicted of the crime of possession with the intent to deliver more than a kilo of heroin, you face minimum guideline jail sentence of five to six and one-half years in state prison.

Sentence enhancements

Under certain circumstances, the range of your minimum and maximum sentence for any drug-related crime may be increased if:

  • A court has previously convicted you of criminal activity.
  • You committed your crime in a school zone or on a school bus.
  • You possessed a firearm while committing your crime.
  • You sold drugs to minors.

Attorney David  R. Eshelman‘s experience of more than 40 years as a criminal defense attorney can help ensure you the lightest sentence possible under the circumstances.

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