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Pennsylvania Appeals Court Upholds Defendant’s Resentencing Following New DUI Conviction

A defendant appealed from a sentence entered in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, following the revocation of his probation. He argued the Pennsylvania Superior Court should vacate his sentence due to the revocation court’s abuse of discretion in fashioning it. The intermediate court disagreed.

On May 17, 2010, following a bench trial, the lower court convicted him of firearms offenses, theft, and receiving stolen property. The court sentenced the defendant to two to four years’ incarceration and up to six years of probation. While he was still serving his probationary term, he was convicted of DUI.

Due to the new DUI conviction, he was required to attend a probation violation hearing for his underlying charges. On December 23, 2015, the revocation court determined that he had violated his probation. The court resentenced him to a term of 2 1/2 to five years’ incarceration. He timely filed a post-sentence motion to reconsider, which the court denied. He then filed a timely notice of appeal pursuant to Rule 1925(b).

On appeal, he raised a single question for review:  whether the sentence of 30-60 months’ incarceration was manifestly excessive and an abuse of discretion in which the court did not consider the sufficiency of the sanctions already imposed and the availability of community-based resources to address his serious rehabilitative needs.

In rejecting the defendant’s argument, the reviewing court first explained that when challenging the discretionary aspects of the sentence imposed, an appellant must present a substantial question as to the inappropriateness of the sentence. Two requirements must be met before reviewing a challenge on the merits. First, an appellant must set forth a brief and concise statement of the reasons used for the allowance of the appeal with respect to the discretionary aspects of a sentence. Second, the appellant must show that there is a substantial question that the sentence imposed is not appropriate under the Sentencing Code.

The defendant’s brief, the court first explained, contained the required Rule 2119(f) concise statement. Additionally, he preserved his discretionary aspects of sentence argument in a post-sentence motion. Thus, the defendant was in technical compliance with the requirements for challenging the discretionary aspects of his sentence.

In his Rule 2119(f) statement, however, the court found the defendant poorly asserted that his sentence was excessive, which did not raise a substantial question for review.

He then claimed that the trial court failed to consider his rehabilitative needs and the community-based resources available for treating those needs when it fashioned his sentence. This, the reviewing court found, raised a substantial question for the court’s review.

A review of the sentencing transcript, however, flatly refuted the claim. The transcript revealed the lower court extensively discussed the possibility of State Intermediate Punishment with the defendant, who declined to sign a consent form to make himself eligible for the treatment program. The lower court then found defense counsel’s request for leniency so that the defendant could obtain treatment for his drug problem to be unavailing, given his express rejection of the treatment program option. The court also discussed on the record the impact of his criminality on the community and his resistance to efforts to curb his drug problem.

The appeals court concluded that the lower court comprehensively addressed the defendant’s rehabilitative needs, despite his arguments to the contrary. Consequently, he was due no relief on his sole claim for review, and the lower court’s decision was affirmed.

Hiring the right attorney can make all of the difference in the world, even if your case seems straightforward or you have no criminal record.  If you find yourself arrested for a DUI, make sure you have a capable attorney on your side. Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Zachary B. Cooper will be aggressive and will fight to make sure that your rights are protected so that your family and you can move on with your lives. Call (215) 542-0800 for a free consultation to discuss the legal options that may be available to you.

More Blog Posts:

Pennsylvania Appeals Court Rejects Constitutionality Challenge to DUI Statute, Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Blog, May 1, 2017.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Holds DUI Arrest Supported by Reasonable Suspicion, Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Blog, April 13, 2017.

Pennsylvania Appeals Court Remands DUI Conviction in Light of Birchfield, Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Blog, March 15, 2017.