Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Pennsylvania

Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Pennsylvania

If you are convicted of committing a criminal offense, your life will obviously change. If the offense is a serious one, you will likely be incarcerated for a lengthy period of time and have to pay a hefty fine and possibly restitution. You may lose your job, your reputation, some friends and possibly relationships with your family. If you are a divorced parent, custody and visitation with your children are definitely in jeopardy.

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, if you are convicted of certain crimes, even if you have no criminal history and this is your first offense, you may be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence. This means the legislature has established a sentence that a judge, at a minimum, is required to impose. If your crime carries a mandatory minimum, the judge may not take any other factor into account to give you a sentence less than the minimum. On the contrary, the judge can consider aggravating factors to sentence you to more than the mandatory minimum. In other words, the mandatory minimum serves as a floor, not a ceiling for the sentence.

No matter how exemplary a life you may have led up until the one aberrant event resulting in your conviction, the judge may not impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum. The sentence may be greater than the mandatory minimum, but it cannot be less. The most common mandatory minimum sentences in Pennsylvania involve convictions for the following offenses:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Drug offenses involving possession with the intent to deliver (PWID). The mandatory minimum depends on the weight of the drugs involved and whether you have a prior conviction for PWID.
  • PWID when a firearm is found in close proximity to the narcotics sales.
  • Violent crimes like aggravated assault, robbery, burglary or rape, committed with a firearm or with an object that the victim believes is a firearm.

If the conviction is not your first conviction for DUI or PWID, the mandatory minimum sentence is increased as these are considered recidivist offenses. That is, the sentence for the same offense is increased if you have prior convictions for the same offense. In addition, Pennsylvania has a three strike law for violent offenses. If you are convicted of a second strike, you face a mandatory minimum of ten years incarceration. If convicted of a third strike, the judge must impose a sentence of no less than twenty-five years and can impose a life sentence.

You need the assistance of a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney

You need to consult an attorney at the earliest possible time. There are legal defenses that can be raised and there are times when negotiations with the prosecution is a tactic to use in order to avoid a conviction carrying a mandatory minimum sentence.

Pennsylvania’s Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Provisions
As of December 2008 (Please see statute for details and up-to-date listing)

Relevant Title/Section Description Mandatory Minimum Sentence Prosecutorial Notice Requirement
18 Pa. C.S. §1102(a);
18 Pa. C.S. §2502(a);
42 Pa. C.S. §9711
Murder of the first degree. Death or life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §1102(a);
18 Pa. C.S. §2507(a)
Murder of a law enforcement officer of the
first degree
Death or life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §1102(a);
18 Pa. C.S. §2604(a)
First degree murder of an unborn child. Life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §1102(b);
18 Pa. C.S. §2502(a);
Murder of the second degree. Life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §1102(b);
18 Pa. C.S. §2507(b)
Murder of a law enforcement officer of the
second degree
Life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §1102(b);
18 Pa. C.S. §2604(b)
Second degree murder of an unborn child. Life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §2506;
35 P.S. §780-113(a)(14) or
(30)
Drug delivery resulting in death. 5 years total confinement No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §2704 Assault by life prisoner. Life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §2716(b)(1) Weapons of mass destruction and use
resulted in death of an individual.
Life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §3301(a)(2) Arson endangering persons as murder of
the first degree
Death or life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §3301(a)(2) Arson endangering persons as murder of
the second degree.
Life imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. 5123(a.1) Controlled substance contraband to
confined person.
2 years total confinement No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. 6111(h) Sale or transfer of firearms; subsequent
Violation
5 years imprisonment Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
sentencing
18 Pa. C.S. §6121 Certain bullets prohibited 5 years imprisonment No notice required
18 Pa. C.S. §6314(a);
35 P.S. §780-113
(a)(14) or (30)
Sentencing and penalties for trafficking
drugs to minors
1 year total confinement Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
Sentencing
18 Pa. C.S. §6314(b);
35 P.S. §780-113
(a)(14) or (30)
Sentencing and penalties for trafficking
drugs to minors.
(promoting habitual use or engage in trafficking, 1,000 feet of real property of school, school bus, 500 feet school bus stop)
3 years total confinement Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
Sentencing
Relevant Title/Section Description Mandatory Minimum Sentence Prosecutorial Notice Requirement
18 Pa. C.S. §6317;
35 P.S. §780-113
(a)(14) or (30)
Drug free school zones 2 years total confinement /
4 year maximum
Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
sentencing
42 Pa. C.S. §9712 Sentences for offenses committed with
firearms.
5 years total confinement Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
Sentencing
42 Pa. C.S. §9712.1
35 P.S. §780-113(a)(30)
Certain drug offenses committed with
firearms.
5
Life imprisonment Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
sentencing
42 Pa. C.S. §9713 Two/Three Strikes Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
Sentencing
2nd conviction for crime of violence 10 years
3rd or subsequent conviction for crime of
violence.
25 years total confinement
or life imprisonment
42 Pa. C.S. §9715 Life Imprisonment for homicide.
(previously convicted of murder or voluntary
manslaughter)
Life imprisonment Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
Sentencing
42 Pa. C.S. §9716 Two or more mandatory minimum sentences applicable. Longest mandatory minimum applies
42 Pa. C.S. §9717 Sentences for offenses against elderly persons. Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
Sentencing
18 Pa. C.S. §2702
(a)(1) & (a)(4)
Aggravated Assault 2 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3121 Rape 5 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3123 IDSI 5 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3922 Theft by deception 1 year imprisonment
(unless court finds
justifiable cause)
Relevant Title/Section Description Mandatory Minimum Sentence Prosecutorial Notice Requirement
42 Pa. C.S. §9718 Sentences for offenses against victims younger than age 16 years Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
sentencing
18 Pa. C.S. §2702 (a)(1)
& (a)(4)
Aggravated assault 2 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3121(a)(1)-(5) Rape 10 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3123 IDSI 10 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3125
(a)(1)-(6)
Aggravated indecent assault 5 years imprisonment
42 Pa. C.S. §9718 Sentences for offenses against victims younger than age 13 years Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
sentencing
18 Pa. C.S. §2702(a)(1) Aggravated assault 5 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3121 (c)
and (d)
Rape 10 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3125(a)(7) Aggravated indecent assault 5 years imprisonment
18 Pa. C.S. §3125(b)
and (a)(1)-(6)
Aggravated indecent assault 10 years imprisonment
42 Pa. C.S. §9718.2 Sentences for sex offenses Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
sentencing
Current conviction of a Megan’s Law
offense and previously convicted of
Megan’s Law offense or equivalent
25 years confinement /
maximum double
minimum
Current conviction of a Megan’s Law
offense and previously convicted of 2 or
more Megan’s Law offenses or equivalent.
Life imprisonment
42 Pa. C.S. §9718.3 Sentences for failure to comply with registration of sexual offenders. Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
sentencing
1st offense / subject to 42 §9795.1(a)
violated 18 §4915(a)(1) or (2)
violated 18 §4915(a)(3)
2 years3 years
1st offense / subject to 42 §9795.1(b)
violated 18 §4915(a)(1) or (2)
violated 18 §4915(a)(3)
3 years5 years
2nd offense / subject to 42 §9795.1
violated 18 §4915(a)(1) or (2)
5 years
2nd + offense / subject to 42 §9795.1
violated 18 §4915(a)(3)
7 years
42 Pa. C.S. §9719 Sentences for offenses committed while
impersonating a law enforcement officer.
3 years total confinement Notice required
prior to sentencing
/ Proof required at
sentencing
Relevant Title/Section Description Mandatory
Minimum Sentence
Prosecutorial
Notice Requirement
42 Pa. C.S. §9719.1; 18-2702.1 Assault of law enforcement officer in thefirst degree (discharging firearm) 20 years imprisonment No notice required
Relevant Title/Section Description Mandatory Minimum Sentence Prosecutorial Notice Requirement
35 P.S. §780-113(k) Manufacture of amphetamines,
methamphetamine, or phenylacetone, and
phenyl-2-proponone
2 years total confinement No notice required
18 Pa.C.S. §7508
35 P.S. §780-113
(a)(14), (30) & (37)
Drug trafficking sentencing and penalties Notice required prior to
sentencing / Proof required
at sentencing
Marijuana
2 lbs. to < 10 lbs. or
10 to < 21 live plants.
1st conviction: 1 year
subsequent: 2 years
10 lbs. to < 50 lbs. or
21 to 51 live plants
1st conviction: 3 years
subsequent: 4 years
50 lbs. or more or
51 live plants or more.
1st conviction: 5 years
subsequent: 5 years
Heroin
1 gram to < 5 grams 1st conviction: 2 yearssubsequent: 3 years
5 grams to < 50 grams 1st conviction: 3 years
subsequent: 5 years
50 grams or more 1st conviction: 5 years
subsequent: 7 years
Narcotics of Schedule I or II
2 grams to < 10 grams 1st conviction: 2 years
subsequent: 3 years
10 grams to < 100 1st conviction: 3 years
subsequent: 5 years
100 grams or more 1st conviction: 5 years
subsequent: 7 years
Cocaine
2 grams to < 10 grams 1st conviction: 1 year
subsequent: 3 years
10 grams < 100 grams 1st conviction: 3 years
subsequent: 5 years
100 grams or more 1st conviction: 4 years
subsequent: 7 years
Methamphetamine / Phencyclidine
5 grams to < 10 grams 1st conviction: 3 years
subsequent: 5 years
10 grams to < 100 grams 1st conviction: 4 years
subsequent: 7 years
100 grams or more 1st conviction: 5 years
subsequent: 8 years
Relevant Title/Section Description Mandatory Minimum Sentence Prosecutorial Notice Requirement
Amphetamine
5 grams or more 1st conviction: 2.5 years
subsequent: 5 years
Methaqualone
50 tablets to < 200 tablets or
25 grams to < 100 grams
1st conviction: 1 year
subsequent: 3 years
200 tablets or more or
> 100 grams
1st conviction: 2.5 years
subsequent: 5 years
MDMA
15 grams to < 30 grams 1st conviction 5 year maximum
subsequent 10 year maximum
30 grams to < 300 grams 1st conviction 10 year maximum
subsequent 20 year
maximum
300 grams or more 1st conviction 15 year maximum
subsequent 30 year
maximum

Pennsylvania’s Vehicle/Boating/DUI-Related Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Provisions
As of December 2008 (Please see statute for details and up-to-date listing)

Relevant Title/Section Description Mandatory Minimum Sentence Prosecutorial Notice Requirement
Vehicle / DUI-Related
75 Pa. C.S. §1543(b) Driving while operating privilege is
suspended or revoked, DUI-related.
60 days, unless imbibing
1st offense 90 days
2nd offense 6 months
3rd+ offense 2 years
No notice required
75 Pa. C.S. §3735 Homicide by vehicle while DUI. 3 years
Consecutive 3 years for each victim.
No notice required
75 Pa. C.S. §3742 Accidents involving death or personal
injury; leaving scene of accident.
Victim suffers SBI
Victim dies
90 days
1 year imprisonment
No notice required
75 Pa. C.S. §3802 Driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance. No notice required
(a)(1) incapable of driving safely or
(a)(2) BAC.08 – <10
1st conviction 6 months probation
2nd conviction 5 days
3rd+ conviction 10 days
(a)(1) incapable of driving safely involving
accident, or
(b) BAC .10 – <.16, or
(e) minor, or
f) commercial/school vehicle
1st conviction 48 hours
2nd conviction 30 days
3rd conviction 90 days
4th+ conviction 1 year
(a)(1) incapable of driving safely involving
refused testing, or
(c) BAC .16 or greater,
(d) controlled substances
1st conviction 72 hours
2nd conviction 90 days
3rd+ conviction 1 year
75 Pa. C.S. §3808 Illegally operating motor vehicle not
equipped with ignition lock.
90 days No notice required
Relevant Title/Section Description Mandatory Minimum Sentence Prosecutorial Notice Requirement
Watercraft
30 Pa. C.S. §5502 Operating watercraft under influence of alcohol or controlled substance. No notice required
(a)(1) incapable safe operation 1st offense 6 months prob.
2nd offense 5 days
3rd+ offense 10 days
(a)(1) refuse testing 1st offense 72 hours
2nd offense 90 days
3rd+ offense 1 year
(a)(1) accident 1st offense 48 hours
2nd offense 30 days
3rd offense 90 days
4th+ offense 1 year
a)(2) BAC .08 – < .10 1st offense 6 months prob.
2nd offense 5 days
3rd + offense 10 days
(a.1) BAC .10 – < .16 1st offense 48 hours
2nd offense 30 days
3rd offense 90 days
4th+ offense 1 year
(a.2) BAC .16+ 1st offense 72 hours
2nd offense 90 days
3rd+ offense 1 year
(a.3) controlled substance 1st offense 72 hours
2nd offense 90 days
3rd+ offense 1 year
a.4) under 21 years of age 1st offense 48 hours
2nd offense 30 days
3rd offense 90 days
4th+ offense 1 year
30 Pa. C.S. §5502.1 Homicide by watercraft while operating
under the influence.
3 years imprisonment No notice required

Attorney Brian M. Fishman, a Philadelphia County criminal defense lawyer with the Fishman Firm, LLC, is an experienced attorney who knows how to attack a case and do all he can to avoid a mandatory even if a conviction for certain offenses seems inevitable. He is a former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney with over a decade of criminal law experience. He is a zealous advocate for his clients who he views as good people in a bad situation. Attorney Fishman values communication with his clients. You can count on him to promptly return your phone calls and respond to your emails.

Contact Us

The Fishman Firm, LLC, is a criminal law firm located in Philadelphia, PA. Attorney Brian M. Fishman is a criminal defense attorney who concentrates his practice on defending the rights of those accused of criminal offenses. He has successfully defended clients in a wide range of criminal cases, and will aggressively defend your rights in court and in negotiations outside the courtroom. If you have been charged with any criminal offense in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks or Chester county, contact Brian M. Fishman at his Philadelphia office to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer.