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Sentencing Guidelines and Implementation Manuals

The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing’s sentencing guidelines first went into effect on July 22, 1982, and applied to all crimes committed from that date forward. They were amended in June 1983, January 1986, and June 1986.

On October 7, 1987, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated all guidelines due to a procedural error that occurred in 1981 when the Legislature rejected the Commission’s initial set of guidelines. With unanimous support from the General Assembly, the guidelines were repromulgated and became effective April 25, 1988.

Since then, the Commission periodically has reviewed and revised its guidelines to keep them current. The set of sentencing guidelines applied is dependent upon the date of offense. See the effective date of sentencing guideline chart.

Amendments in 1991 helped identify defendants for the new county intermediate punishment program and later for the new boot camp program. A comprehensive review of the guidelines led to a revised set effective in 1994. The Commission made further revisions in 1997 and again in 2005, to incorporate new DUI laws and state intermediate punishment.

The sentencing guidelines were revised to integrate enacted legislation and to promote greater utilization of sentencing options such as fines, community service, and intermediate punishments. These were effective December 5, 2008.

During 2011, the Commission reviewed sentencing guidelines.  Proposed guidelines were published on April 7, 2012 in the Pennsylvania Bulletin followed by public hearings and testimony.  Revised proposed sentencing guidelines were published on August 4, 2012, and an additional public hearing was held.  On September 13th, the Commission adopted 7th Edition Sentencing Guidelines.  They were published in the September 29th Pennsylvania Bulletin7th Edition Sentencing Guidelines are effective December 28, 2012.

Following the adoption of the 7th Edition, a number of sentencing related bills were enacted by the General Assembly in the closing days of the 2011-2012 Session, including two sentencing guideline enhancements and legislation in response to the United States Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama.  Therefore, on June 6, 2013, the Commission adopted Amendment 1 to the 7th Edition Sentencing Guidelines.   The 7th Edition Amendment 1 Sentencing Guidelines apply to any offense committed on or after September 27, 2013.

The Commission adopted a second amendment to the 7th Edition Sentencing Guidelines to address legislative mandates to create a sentencing enhancement related to child abuse (Act 105 of 2013) and related to arson (Act 16 of 2014).  The 7th Edition Amendment 2 Sentencing Guidelines apply to any offense committed on or after September 26, 2014.

On June 4, 2015, the Commission on Sentencing adopted Amendment 3 to the 7th Edition Sentencing Guidelines.  Amendment 3 was adopted primarily to address the legislative mandate to create a sentencing enhancement for offenses involving human trafficking (Act 105 of 2014).  Amendment 3 applies to any offense committed on or after September 25, 2015.

On June 1, 2017, the Commission adopted Amendment 4 to the 7th Edition Sentencing Guidelines.  This Amendment was adopted primarily to address four legislative mandates to create sentencing enhancements:  offenses involving burglary of a home and bodily injury crimes committed, threatened or attempted (Act 158 of 2016); persons not to possess firearms (Act 134 of 2016);   homicide by vehicle and conviction relating to text-based communications; and aggravated assault by vehicle and conviction relating to text-based communications.  Amendment 4 was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on September 2, 2017 and applies to all offenses committed on or after January 1, 2018.

A Supplement to the 7th Edition Amendment 4 Sentencing Guidelines was adopted on December 14, 2017.  In response to concerns raised by practitioners, the Supplement addresses violations of 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(14) and (30) involving fentanyl and its derivatives and analogues.  It was published in the February 3, 2018 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin, and applies to the aforementioned offenses committed on or after June 1, 2018.

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