The Mazza Law Group, P.C.
2790 W. College Ave., Suite 800
State College, PA 16801 March 10, 2016
(814) 237-6255

Repeat Offenders – Enhanced Sentences for Crimes of Violence

Pennsylvania law 42 Pa.C.S.A. §9714(A)(1) provides that any person convicted of a “crime of violence” shall be sentenced to a minimum of ten years’ incarceration if they have a prior conviction for a crime of violence when they committed the second offense.  If the person has two or more convictions for crimes of violence upon committing the new offense, the mandatory minimum jumps up to 25 years.

Crime of violence as defined in 42 Pa.C.S.A. 9714(G) to include voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, arson, robbery, kidnapping and burglary.

The question of whether multiple crimes of violence, all committed during the same criminal episode, are each subject to the mandatory described above was recently decided by Pennsylvania’s high court in Commonwealth v. Fields.  In Fields, the Court ruled that the statute “requires that a second-strike offender be sentenced to a prescribed minimum term of incarceration for each conviction of a crime of violence that is part of the second strike.”

This holding is important because in many criminal prosecutions the accused is charged with numerous offenses all arising out of the same criminal endeavor.  A defendant could wind up with a very lengthy sentence due to one episode, as the defendant in Fields did.  Rudolph Fields wound up with an aggregate prison term of 45.5 – 91 years due to the application of the sentencing enhancement to each offense, and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that was the appropriate outcome.

With such large numbers on the line, anyone charged with a violent crime should consult with an experienced attorney immediately. At the Mazza Law Group, P.C., our attorneys are well versed in all second and third-strike offender statutes and follow the case law surrounding this topic closely to best meet the needs of criminal clients.