The Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines contain factors that can increase the sentencing guidelines to which someone may be sentenced. Sentencing guidelines are a combination of a person's prior record score and the offense gravity score for the crime or crimes that are charged.
A United States Supreme Court case (Alleyne v. United States) held that any fact that increases the sentence which someone could receive if convicted must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and determined by the factfinder during the trial process. At issue in Alleyne was the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence applicable in the case. The Court held that the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence raises the sentence which the defendant could received and, accordingly, his constitutional rights were violated when the facts triggering the mandatory minimum sentence were not determined beyond a reasonable doubt and not found by the factfinder.
Pennsylvania law provides for a diversionary program known as the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, also known as A.R.D., and is generally used for D.U.I. cases. This program lasts a total of six months and is focused on drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment to address any substance abuse problems the candidate may have and also tries to eliminate the punitive nature of the criminal justice system.
Pennsylvania law provides for a program known as "probation without a verdict" for first time offenders of the Controlled Substance Act. Counties in Pennsylvania, such as Montgomery County, offer this program to first-time offenders charged with a nonviolent offense of the controlled substance act.
The United States Supreme Court recently issued a ruling holding that police are NOT permitted to search a person's cell phone incident to an arrest absent a warrant or a separate exigent circumstance.
In a fairly recent United States Supreme Court case, the Court had to resolve the issue of whether the police use of heat-seeking devices to detect whether the owner of a home was growing marijuana inside his residence constituted a search for Constitutional purposes.
The United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions protect against unreasonable searches and seizures. In a number of cases, the United States Supreme Court has had to address the issues of whether the police's use of a drug-sniffing dog constitutes a search and, if so, whether that search is unreasonable.