This week the Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion in Commonwealth v. Newman that 2014 Pa Super 178 that Alleyne v. U.S. renders 42 Pa.C.S.A. sec. 9712.1 unconstitutional.
§ 9712.1. Sentences for certain drug offenses committed with
(a) 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.
The significance of this case is clear because it will undoubtedly carry over to the mandatories associated with non firearm drug weight cases. This is a welcomed shift that takes the sentencing restrictions out of the legislature and back to the sentencing court where it belongs.