FREE CONSULTATIONS

Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    PA Drug Offense Mandatory Minimum Sentences, Gun Possession

    Page last reviewed and updated: August 3, 2020

    Over the past decade or so, Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentencing law in drug-gun cases has resulted in increased prison sentences for many residents of Pennsylvania, including residents of major cities like Philadelphia, which has a high number of drug-gun cases compared to other Pennsylvania cities.

    Drug and gun possession cases accepted in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County & Scranton/Lackawanna County. FREE CONSULTATIONS (215) 564-0644

    Passed in 2004 and effective in 2005, 42 Pa.C.S. § 9712.1 (Sentences for certain drug offenses committed with firearms) imposes a mandatory 5 year prison sentence in certain drug offense cases.

    Related: Who is the Best Criminal Lawyer for Your Philadelphia Criminal Case?

    Section (a) lays out the mandatory 5 year prison sentence:

    Mandatory sentence.  –Any person who is convicted of a violation of section 13(a)(30) of the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, when at the time of the offense the person or the person’s accomplice is in physical possession or control of a firearm, whether visible, concealed about the person or the person’s accomplice or within the actor’s or accomplice’s reach or in close proximity to the controlled substance, shall likewise be sentenced to a minimum sentence of at least five years of total confinement.

    Legal Analysis

    The Mandatory Sentence Law Applies to PWID Cases

    Under section (a), the mandatory sentence (5 years) applies only to drug dealing (possession with intent to deliver, or PWID) cases, as defined in The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, Section 13(a)(30), which provides:

    Except as authorized by this act, the manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance by a person not registered under this act, or a practitioner not registered or licensed by the appropriate State board, or knowingly creating, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver, a counterfeit controlled substance.

    Possession of a Gun

    Under the mandatory sentence law, the person being charged with the crime or an accomplice must have had physical possession or control of a gun (visible or concealed):

    • on the body (i.e., in a pocket),
    • within reach of the body, or
    • within reach of the drugs.

    Therefore, the mandatory 5 year sentence probably applies to cases where the individual is charged with PWID and at the time of the alleged offense had possession of a gun in a pocket, near their body or otherwise near the drugs. In addition, the individual can be sentenced under the law if an accomplice had possession of a gun, near their body or near drugs. This last point is crucial because someone who was dealing drugs could be sentenced to a mandatory 5 years if an accomplice carried a gun.

    Also, it is important to note that there have been major changes in how the DA must prove the sentencing factor (possession of a gun). Click here to read about Alleyne v. U.S., a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case, which drastically changes how the mandatory drug sentencing law applies in court.

    Related: David Nenner Criminal Case Result & Analysis: Acquittal in an Attempted Murder Case in Philadelphia

    If you or a loved one is facing a drug-gun charge in the Philadelphia area or surrounding areas such as Norristown, please call us for a free case review. (215) 564-0644

    Disclaimer: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. Our lawyers provide legal advice only after accepting a case. It is imperative that any action taken is done on advice of counsel. Read full disclaimer below.

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"
    (2015-2022)

    MURDER, Att. Murder CHARGES – Negotiated Significantly Lower prison sentence (Feb. 2022, PHILA)

    Mr. Anderson faced murder and attempted murder charges after an incident in Northeast Philadelphia involving the shooting death of Anderson’s sister’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s roommate who was shot 5 times and survived. The decedent had previously beaten the...

    Att. MURDER CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (April 2022, PHILA)

    The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Shelton shot and seriously injured a male in a bar in North Philadelphia called Circles. There was video of the shooting which happened outside the bar. However, Mr. Nenner presented witnesses who testified that the person in the bar...

    MURDER, Robbery CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    Mr. Nenner's client was charged with multiple crimes (murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault, robbery, etc.) after a shooting death occurred at a gambling house in North Philadelphia. At trial, Mr. Nenner successfully presented a self-defense argument and convinced...

    MURDER CHARGE – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    Mr. Nenner’s client was charged with murder and gun charges in Philadelphia. The client was accused of shooting and killing another male on Arch Street near the 5600 block of Ithan Street in Philadelphia. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating...

    Drug Possession Case – Motion to Suppress Granted

    Mr. Nenner presented evidence that to show that the traffic stop was a pretextual stop. The officer had no reason to pull the car over. The judge agreed and suppressed the evidence. As a result, the prosecution withdrew the charges.

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – Possession of a Controlled Substance

    In most criminal drug cases in Philadelphia, there are two common charges or offenses: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. In addition to these drug charges, there are other drug related charges, such...

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – What is “Possession”

    Page last reviewed and updated: October 20, 2019 One of the most common types of criminal state (PA) cases in Philadelphia is possession of drugs. Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) often...

    Pennsylvania Second Degree Murder (AKA: Felony Murder) Law

    Philadelphia criminal lawyer David S. Nenner discusses the current status of second degree murder law in Pennsylvania. This is also known as the felony murder rule. Get info about PA court decisions and the agency theory. Not every case of death during the commission of a felony will result in a second degree murder conviction in PA.

    Philadelphia Murder Cases – Police Investigation Tactics

    Questioning Police Officer Tactics in Philadelphia Murder Cases Within the last 10 years, there have been several murder Philadelphia criminal cases in which the accused individuals were acquitted of the crimes. In these cases, the individuals spent months, if not...

    Murder Charges in Pennsylvania – Murder Law in Pennsylvania

    An explanation of Pennsylvania murder laws including Section 2502. What is murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and murder in the third degree. Get a summary of the definitions under Pennsylvania criminal law.