Bill to Restore Mandatory Minimum Sentences Gets Support from Law Enforcement Community
District attorneys across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have come out in full support of the restoration of mandatory minimum sentences for certain offenses. Likely crimes that would be tied to these mandatory minimums would be those involving children, drugs and the elderly.
The bill, HB 741, has already been passed in a vote out of committee, with the full house expecting to pass it, as well. At least several state representatives have already voiced their belief that it will receive bipartisan support. However, many people who have followed the bill do not think it will pass in the state Senate, as a similar bill did not make it out of committee last year.
Governor Tom Wolf does not support the bill, which is another obstacle in the way of it actually being signed into law. Opponents argue that mandatory minimums have not worked in the past, and reinstating them would be a move in the wrong direction.
Law enforcement pushes for the measure
The bill has the support of the law enforcement community, in addition to prosecutors. One of the biggest arguments in favor of it is the increasing of people who use heroin and fentanyl in the state. Some estimates indicate there are tens of thousands of addicted drug users in Pennsylvania alone. This bill would target people trafficking and distributing drugs here.
On the other hand, there is evidence to suggest that mandatory minimums result in more defendants pleading guilty to the charges against them in fear of being charged with a more serious crime. In that way, the minimums could violate individuals’ constitutional rights to due process under the law.
For now, Pennsylvania does not have a law requiring mandatory minimum sentences for certain types of offenses. To learn more about your rights when charged with a crime, speak with trusted Berks County defense attorney David R. Eshelman.