Mandatory Minimum | Possession with the Intent to Deliver (PWID)
I don’t understand the mandatory minimum rules in Pennsylvania. My brother is charged with PWID and his lawyer is telling us that sentencing guidelines do not apply to my brother’s case because it is covered by the mandatory minimum. This makes no sense to me and it seems so unfair. His sentencing guidelines are way lower than the mandatory minimum. What can we do? Why does the mandatory minimum trump the sentencing guidelines?
The legislature in Pennsylvania (the General Assembly) makes law and the law states that judges may look to the sentencing guidelines in every case and may impose a sentence within the guidelines. However, the legislature can also pass a law that says under certain facts and circumstances, a mandatory minimum sentence must be applied to the case and while the sentencing guidelines can be considered, the judge may not sentence below the mandatory.
In PWID cases, many mandatory minimum laws are in place in Pennsylvania to prevent judges from giving defendants little to no time for drug cases. However, judges can always give you more than the mandatory minimum, especially if your sentencing guidelines are higher than the mandatory.
The only way around the mandatory minimum is if your criminal defense attorney convinces the District Attorney to allow you to plea open and de-mandatorize the case. If that happens the judge will sentence based on the guidelines, not the mandatory minimum. The problem with that solution is that the defendant must plea guilty.