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Alleyne Held Not to Apply Retroactively

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The determination that mandatory minimum sentencing schemes in PA were unconstitutional has been held not to apply retroactively

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By Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Criminal Defense Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently held that the mandatory minimum sentencing scheme as determined by the United States Supreme Court decision in Alleyne does not apply retroactively to cases on collateral appeal.  Com v. Crockett (October 30, 2014).  In Com v. Newman (see link), the Superior Court held that the state's mandatory minimum scheme was unconstitutional as it applied to a firearm's possession case. 

A case is on "direct appeal" or unitary review if the judgment of sentence was appealed from the trial court to the highest appellate court.  In the case of Crockett, the appellant filed an appeal from his judgment of sentence that went to the PA Supreme Court, which denied the appeal.  Based upon the decision in Newman and Alleyne, the appellant in Crockett sought collateral review.  That is, his direct appeal had ended and he was seeking review under one of a few provisions under the Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA").  See link to "PCRA" explanation.  The Superior Court determined that the new rule announced by the Supreme Court in Alleyne does not apply retroactively to cases that were not on direct appeal.  Accord Com. v. Washington, No. 37 EAP 2015 (Superior Court, July 19, 2016).

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