Pennsylvania Mandatory Drug Sentencing

I have recently received a flurry of questions pertaining to mandatory minimum sentences in Pennsylvania in state court. Basically the questions all sound somewhat the same, “I am being charged with a mandatory drug case and I wonder if there is anyway that I can get around the mando?”

Two separate answers for this questions.

Often times, even in the worst cases, we can fight the case by attempting to “parse” the drugs as our defense. This is normally done as a bench trial, but I have done it in front of a jury. Basically, the argument is that while 500 grams of cocaine were recovered in the arrest, my client was only responsible for 1 gram of cocaine. If this argument works, my client would be found guilty, but of a non-mandatory amount. The key to this defense is to make certain that you will beat the conspiracy charge, because if you are found guilty of conspiracy in the case, all of the weight can be put on each person, so the mandatory will still apply.

The second answer to the question is by getting the client into the Intermediate Punishment Program. Different counties call this program different things. I have heard it called IP, IPP, even Treatment Court. In Philadelphia, everything is different, but basically, the end result of the program is the same. In IP, as I call, you must have some type of substance problem, even if it isn’t the type of substance for which you were arrested. In some IP programs, you can even avoid a conviction altogether. IP may involve some custody, house arrest, work release, or inpatient, but can avoid huge mandatories. Also, there is a new program (2006?) called State IP. In State IP, you go up state for your sentence, but the sentence is drastocally reduced. State IP is great if you are looking at the 5-10 or 7-14 mando. Also, you usually are not eligible for any of these special programs if there is a gun involved in the instant case or if you were ever arrested for a violent crime involving a gun.

3 Comments on Pennsylvania Mandatory Drug Sentencing

  1. Double Jeopardy…I Plead the 5th!

    In May, I was pulled over for going too fast as the cop said and was subsequently charged with misdemeanor speeding. The officer alleged that I was going 45MPH in a 25MPH zone.

    Two months later, I had my trial, defended myself in propria persona, and was found NOT GUILTY of Speed/ACD. The prosecutor was livid after the trial, but before the verdict, claiming that I had called no witnesses and had presented no case to prove I was not speeding. I snapped back, saying that I did not have to—it was his job to do that and that he hadn’t proven his case beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge agreed because he acquitted me.

    My questions are simple:

    1)Did the Prosecutor violate my 5th Amendment right when he told the judge I had called no witnesses to prove my case when he knew very well that I was the only witness I could have called.

    2) I further confessed to the Prosecutor after the trial that I had been going about 37MPH in a 25MPH zone verbally and in writing. Then I had some hesitancy about that, but I’m pretty sure any other proceedings on that would be Double Jeopardy. He snapped back at my confession, too.

    Can you help me with this? Did he violate my 5th Amendment right once? Twice possibly if he should file back? He was very livid.

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  3. You were found not guilty. You can no longer be prosecuted for the same offense because the subsequent prosecution would be double jeopardy. Therefore, you have no fifth amendment rights anymore because you can no longer incriminate yourself.

    Also, the prosecutor arguing in his/her closing argument that you should have testified or called a witness is prosecutorial misconduct and should not be allowed by the judge. It wasn’t allowed, the judge did the right thing and found you not guilty.

    You won, be happy.

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