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Drug Trafficking and Sentencing- Prior Crimes

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The sentencing code allows for enhanced minimum sentences where a prior conviction has occurred.

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Drug Crimes Lawyer, Harrisburg

The defense of an individual not only involves trying to have them acquitted of the offense for which they are charged, but it also involves defense of them at the time of sentencing.  Enhancements can apply at sentencing and DA's are often quick to have them applied.  However, the enhancement for drug trafficking based on past offenses only applies if the past offenses have been the subject of a conviction and sentence at the time of sentencing on the present offense.  Not just an arrest.

What the Courts have held:

A mandatory minimum sentence for delivery of a controlled substance is improper without evidence of a prior conviction for drug trafficking.  It is not necessary for the defendant's arrest and conviction for the prior offense to occur before the arrest for the offense at issue in order for the mandatory sentence statute to apply.  The enhancement statute applicable to a second drug trafficking offense requires enhancement where a defendant has been convicted of another drug trafficking offense by the time of sentencing; it is irrelevant whether the offense for which enhancement is being imposed was committed before the offense which resulted in a prior conviction.

Therefore, it is important to have an experienced drug attorney representing you that knows this, otherwise you could be walking into enhanced sentencing schemes.  Do not plead guilty to drug offenses while you have other pending drug offense charges.  You may contact the experienced drug defense attorneys at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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