In 2010, a man was convicted on several drug charges in Pennsylvania. During
the police search of his dwelling, a firearm and ammunition were purportedly
discovered under the mattress of a bed. The man was subsequently sentenced
using the guidelines that allow a minimum time for the drug-related
gun charges. However, the man has now been granted the right to a review of his sentence
based on a state Superior Court ruling.
After a jury entered a guilty verdict on the drug charges, the judge in
the case used a sentencing guideline under a section of the criminal code
regarding drug-related gun charges. The criminal code had allowed for
a minimum five-year sentence if a gun is found within the vicinity of
drug activity. However, in 2013, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled
that this portion of the criminal code is unconstitutional. That ruling
stemmed from a case where a man was accused of brandishing a gun when
in fact the man did not openly display the weapon.
Now, as a result of the recent case, the Superior Court has found that
gun charges must be included in the charging documents and that the jury
must specify that they have found the accused guilty of any weapons charges.
Otherwise, the defendant would only be facing the lesser sentencing guidelines
rather than the mandatory minimum sentences. The only persons permitted
to an appeal of their sentencing in this matter are ones who had already
initiated the appeals process.
The 22-year-old man who was recently granted a new sentencing hearing did
met that requirement. He may now be entitled to a reduction in his prison
term. Any Pennsylvania resident who is facing criminal accusations, including
gun charges, is entitled to a vigorous defense and to challenge the case
being presented against them. Furthermore, they are also ensured the right
to appeal any conviction on the grounds that may apply in their particular
Source: mainlinemedianews.com, "Pennsylvania Superior Court declares mandatory minimum sentences unconstitutional
for drug-related gun charges", Dan Clark, Aug. 22, 2014