COVID-19 impacts everything including sentencing in PA. A COVID-19 sentence is no joke.
In the very middle of the COV-19 pandemic, the courts were eager to let criminals out of jail. They were paroling them early. Everything is about reducing the population of the state and county prisons. Now that the serge is over or slowing, do you think that the judges want to keep the prisons empty? Nope. Prisons are a little mini-economy of their own. Lots of jail fees and surcharges go on. Contracts for prisoner phone calls, for prisoner health services and jail mail is a nickel and dime approach for the county. But prisons and especially work release centers are a profit making enterprise. Plus, they employ a lot of folks. In some counties and areas where there are prisons or jails, it is the number one employer.
Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines
The Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines are a statewide method of how judges in PA are supposed to sentence the guilty. They use it when fashioning a sentence. These guidelines provide a suggested range of sentences that judges may impose. However, judges are permitted to impose sentences above the standard range when aggravating factors are present.
Aggravated range sentences in PA
While there is some body of law about what isn’t an aggravating factor, there is no hard and fast definition for it. A strong argument could be made that a judge would be within their discretion in aggravating a sentence for offenses committed during the pandemic. Specifically, a judge could put on the record that by requiring the police to make an arrest, the accused potentially exposed the officer and his family to COVID-19. If the judge tags you with an aggravated range sentence, you will spend extra months or even years behind bars. We call these types of “send a message” style sentencing, a COVID-19 sentence.
So, if you are facing a COVID-19 sentence in PA, you had better call us.
What to do next
Our experienced attorneys can get out in front of these issues. We can expose weaknesses in the Commonwealth’s case. We present mitigating factors in your favor. Now, more than ever, it is important to have great representation on board to guide you through these unprecedented times.
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