Philadelphia Criminal Law Firm Seeks Favorable Sentencing Outcomes
Determined Pennsylvania defense attorney argues for minimal penalties
When Pennsylvania judges impose jail terms and other punishments for criminal offenses, they usually follow the state’s Sentencing Guidelines. These policies are designed to achieve balance and uniformity in the sentencing process by calling on judges to use the same criteria in deciding what level of penalties to impose. However, judges still have a great deal of discretionary power in using the guidelines. At the Law Offices of David Jay Glassman in Philadelphia, we take all appropriate measures to seek the most just and least oppressive sentences for our clients, arguing for favorable applications of the guidelines to the full extent the law allows.
Understanding the factors used to determine punishments
Pennsylvania judges calculate sentences by weighing two metrics: one for the gravity of the offense and one for the defendant’s criminal history. The Offense Gravity Score (OGS) takes into account the nature of the crime as well as the age of the defendant. The Prior Record Score (PRS) is based on past convictions and juvenile adjudications and considers the gravity and violence of the previous offenses.
The OGS and PRS allow the judge to identify the level of appropriate sentencing under the Pennsylvania penal code. While the primary focus is on punishment and incapacitation of offenders, the guidelines allow for fulfillment of other sentencing purposes, including rehabilitation and deterrence. There are five levels of sentencing:
- Level 1 — This sentencing level is for the least serious offenses, such as disorderly conduct and possession of small amounts of marijuana, and applies to defendants with no more than one prior misdemeanor conviction. The sentences are restorative, such as fines, probation and community service.
- Level 2 — For generally non-violent offenders and those with numerous less serious prior convictions, the recommended sentences include total or partial confinement in a county facility and/or some form of no-jail punishment, totaling 12 months or less.
- Level 3 — This level applies to serious offenders and those with numerous prior convictions. It calls for total incarceration in a state facility and, in cases of drug or alcohol dependence, treatment and supervision regimens, all totaling at least 12 months.
- Level 4 — For very serious offenders and those with numerous prior convictions, the recommended sentence is state incarceration of between 12 and 30 months, though it may be served in a county facility in certain circumstances. In cases of drug or alcohol dependence, treatment and supervision may be imposed in lieu of part of the incarceration.
- Level 5 — The most violent offenders and those with major drug convictions are required to be sent to state prison for at least 12 months and usually for much longer terms. For example, a first degree felony conviction for rape or kidnapping carries up to 20 years in prison, while murder can draw a life sentence.
Mitigating factors can result in a lowering of sentencing levels, and our job as defense counsel is to present a credible case that our client and society would be served by a lenient sentence.
Exploring eligibility for no-jail or low-jail options
In certain circumstances, a judge has discretion to impose one of these alternatives or supplements to incarceration:
- County Intermediate Punishment — CIP is a community-based sentence available to certain offenders who would otherwise be sent to a county facility. It may involve work release, community service, electronic monitoring, drug testing, mandatory treatment and supervised probation. A sentence may include a combination of jail time and CIP.
- State Intermediate Punishment — SIP is intended for offenders who would otherwise be sent to state prison but who are dependent on drugs or alcohol. An SIP sentence spans 24 months and involves at least seven months in a state correctional institution, at least two months in a community-based therapeutic program and at least six months of outpatient treatment, followed by supervised community reintegration.
We carefully present all relevant mitigating circumstances that may lead to eligibility for these alternatives to incarceration.
Contact a seasoned Pennsylvania felony and misdemeanor defense attorney today
At the Law Offices of David Jay Glassman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we fight to protect our clients through every step of the criminal justice process, including sentencing. We represent individuals in Philadelphia, Delaware, Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties. To schedule a consultation with a skilled criminal defense lawyer, call us at 215-563-7100 or contact us online.