By District Attorney Ryan Sayers
2023 Vol. 1
As District Attorney, I regularly receive questions from victims, families, friends, and, citizens on the street.
Additionally, I see the comments to online news articles where people question a decision or outcome in criminal cases.
One of the roles of District Attorney is to be an educator and from that the idea of “Q&A with the DA” was born to help shed some light on the workings of the criminal justice system.
Each week I will be submitting a short article explaining a certain aspect of the criminal justice system, and some topics will take multiple weeks to cover fully, which includes the first topic of: Sentencing Guidelines.
The top two questions that I have received over the past three years are: (1) “what is John or Jane Doe looking at in their case?” and (2) “why did John or Jane Doe only get sentenced to blank?”
In Pennsylvania, the General Assembly created the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing for the purpose of “advancing effective, humane, and rational policies that promote fairer and more uniform decisions at sentencing, resentencing, and parole.”
As such, the Sentencing Commission has developed and implemented a set of guidelines that are used in every courtroom and criminal case across the Commonwealth.
Every prosecutor and defense attorney use these guidelines when discussing potential plea deals, and every judge uses these when sentencing a person in a criminal case.
The current Sentencing Matrix can be found at https://pcs.la.psu.edu/guidelines-statutes/sentencing/.
Besides statutes dealing with certain types of murder, every crime in Pennsylvania is given a sentencing range that appears on the Sentencing Matrix.
Next week, continuing on this issue of Sentencing Guidelines, I will discuss Offense Gravity Scores, which are listed on the left side of the Sentencing Matrix.
Ryan Sayers is the elected District Attorney of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. The information contained in this article is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this article without seeking legal or other professional advice.
The contents of these articles contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address your situation.