Sentencing in Pennsylvania is based a combination of factors: facts of the case, age, victim identity, gravity of the offense, grading of the offense, and the accused’s prior record score.  Prior record score is based on the types and number of prior convictions a person has.  A person accumulates “points” on his prior record based on felony convictions, consecutively sentenced misdemeanor convictions, etc.  The calculation for prior Pennsylvania convictions is very formulaic and set by statute.

Issues arise when a person is convicted of an out of state conviction and a Pennsylvania court is attempting to calculate his prior record score on another case.  In that case the court has 2 options: (1) the prior conviction is the equivalent of a Pennsylvania crime or (2) the prior conviction does not have an equivalent in Pennsylvania crime.

A crime is equivalent if the out of state conviction has similar elements of the crime and a similar penalty.  If the Commonwealth can prove both of these requirements, the crime will be graded as the equivalent of the Pennsylvania crime.  If the prior out of state conviction does not have an equivalent PA crime, the court looks to the maximum sentence that could be imposed for the out of state conviction and compares it to the maximum sentences for the PA crimes and scores the out of state conviction accordingly.

This area of law is very complex and could be the difference in months or even years on a loved one’s sentence.  Contact the experienced and aggressive attorneys at the Kelly Law Firm for any issues dealing with trial or sentencing.