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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Dealing in School Zones

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently voted 3-2 to strike down mandatory minimum sentences for people found guilty of dealing drugs in a school zone. Some, including the Delaware County district attorney, have been extremely critical of the ruling, saying it will lead to eliminating almost all mandatory drug sentences in Pennsylvania — whether or not they have anything to do with school zones.

Proponents of the decision say it merely restores some judicial discretion when it comes to cases involving drug offenses. They point to the many various other measures in place to control such matters, including the ability to seek consecutive sentences, built-in variances and prior record scores. Now, according to those in favor of the decision, judges will be able to properly dispense justice without being hamstrung by mandatory minimum sentences simply because the drug deal happened in a specific area.

Recent rulings prompt change

These types of mandatory minimum laws became popular in the 1980s and 1990s, as courts across the country began to crack down on individuals convicted of crimes involving violence or drugs. However, they have started to be removed after a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case ended in a ruling that federal mandatory minimum sentences in handgun cases were to be classified as unconstitutional. This was one of the precedents the Pennsylvania Supreme Court referred to in its recent decision.

If you have been charged with any type of drug crime, it’s important to seek representation from a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. To fully explore your options, consult David R. Eshelman in Reading, Pennsylvania.

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