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Is the gravity score a mandate? Parole for nonviolent offence with firearms in parents home?

Wapwallopen, PA |

Our son is in state prison serving 18 months to 5 years for a second DUI while on probation. According to the Judge our sons gravity score mandated the sentence. In this county a vigorous defense is unheard of. Local attorneys and public defender always give the same council. Plead guilty. This arrest was last September. He is now applying for a pre-release, but evidently will not be able to live with us because I have hunting firearms in our home (locked in a safe). Prior to this sentence and state incarceration the firearms were a non-issue. We certainly would like to see him succeed, but he has no job or sufficient resources to go anywhere, but here with us. His BAC was high. Something like .247.

Attorney Answers 2


In pronouncing sentence, the court must consider, but is NOT bound by, the guidelines issued by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing. The only limitations on the sentence that the court can impose are (1) mandatory minimum sentences, if applicable and (2) the statutory maximum for the grade and degree of the offense.

If the sentence imposed was the result of a negotiated guilty plea, then it is next to impossible to get it changed. If it was part of an open guilty plea, the remedy is to file a Post-Sentence Motion with the court asking for reconsideration of sentence. This must be done within 10 days of imposition of sentence.

No matter how it turns out, let's hope that your son gets the message and gets his life back together and becomes a successful and productive member of the community.

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The court must consider the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines when fashioning a sentence. A Second DUI with a BAC above .16% has an Offense Gravity Score of 5. With a prior record score of either 3, 4 or 5 being considered, 18 month is a minimum sentence within the standard range.

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The intake consular at the state prison told our son that the sentence was quite harsh despite the gravity score. I saw Secretary Wagner, the PA Auditor General on PCN. His discussion was on budget matters concerning the state prisons. He mentioned that the author of the Gravity Score Guidelines now admits that was a bad idea.

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