The sentencing guidelines list a range of the minimum number of months in jail or prison a defendant should normally receive. The “minimum” sentence is the time a defendant must serve before becoming eligible for parole. The guidelines do not deal with the maximum part of a sentence.
The “Offense Gravity Score” (OGS) ranges from 1 to 14, with 14 being at the top row in the chart for the most serious offenses. The chart lists some examples of crimes for each OGS.
Once you know the OGS of the crime in question, you can find the guideline sentence in the proper column for your prior record score (PRS). It is impossible to determine your PRS without having a detailed record of all your prior offenses, often including juvenile offenses, but generally a defendant gets one point for every two misdemeanors, and either 1,2,3, or 4 points for each felony.
The prior record score can be from “0” to “5” or “RFEL” or “REVOC”. RFEL is for defendants with a score of a least 6 and certain multiple felonies. REVOC is for defendants with a score of at least 9 if part of that score is from two or more 4 point felonies.
The column at the extreme right, headed “AGG/MIT”, lists the number of months the judge may add or subtract from the standard range sentence if there are aggravating (worse) or mitigating (better) factors about this crime or your life. If the aggravating or mitigating factors are serious enough, the judge may even sentence outside the AGG/MIT ranges, either below or above.
“BC” in a box means that the judge could recommend you for boot camp in the state prison sentence if he gives the guideline sentence.
“RS” means restorative sanctions, which basically means probation plus paying for any damages.
Appearance at arraignment in Monroe County Court of Common Pleas is optional. Since you have an attorney representing you, there is no need for you to physically appear before a judge at the courthouse in Stroudsburg to read you your rights. The Entry of Appearance form you signed at the preliminary hearing contains (already is) a waiver of appearance, and the date of arraignment on the form starts your time period for filing pre-trial motions, if any.
If you have been informed by your lawyer at the preliminary hearing that it appears (you should be routinely) that the District Attorney’s Office has considered you as a candidate for ARD, then you will be given an application to sign and the Entry of Appearance form will indicate the date for your ARD hearing. (will be scheduled during the weekly criminal court). You must appear in court to get ARD. Once you get ARD, we close our file on you and there is nothing further for you to do except to follow the terms of your probation.
At the end of probation, you have the option of hiring a private lawyer to petition the court to formally order the police to expunge your arrest record.
If you want a bail reduction hearing, call the Public Defender Office and ask a secretary to send you a bail reduction form. When you return the completed form to us, we will be able to file a petition.
In most DUI and drug cases your privilege to drive will be suspended. Even after the suspension period has run, you are still suspended until (1) you have done everything PENNDOT tells you to do, and (2) PENNDOT. informs you your driving privilege has been restored. If your suspension is for more than a year, you might be eligible to get an “Occupational Limited License: after the first year. It will allow some driving. Contact PENNDOT and apply for it at least 20 days before sentencing, the day your suspension begins.
You can also expect a request for a urine sample at your PSI interview so they can test it for drugs, even if your charges do not involve drugs. You do not have to give a urine sample, but if you refuse, the Judge will learn of your refusal when he reads the PSI. We suggest you stop all illegal drug use now and stay clean, because, depending upon the drug, the drug might show up on the test a month or more after you used it.
If you have been sentenced to jail, in virtually every case the Judge will have set both a minimum and a maximum length of imprisonment, such as not less than 6 months nor more than 23 months. If the maximum sentence of all your sentences put together is less than 24 months, then the county Judge who sentenced you has the power to parole you at any time. The time at which he will actually parole you is almost always at the expiration of the minimum sentence. A few weeks prior to your minimum date the Public Defender Office will automatically file the petition for your parole and the Judge will usually schedule a parole hearing on or about the date of your minimum period.
If your maximum sentence was 2 years or more, then the county Judge does not have the power to parole you. Instead, only the State Board of Probation and Parole can parole you. An exception is that in DUI county jail sentences the judge can retain power to parole even if the maximum sentence is over 2 years. The State Board will not parole you before your minimum date, and unfortunately, it also usually takes longer to parole you after your minimum date has passed. No petition is filed by our office in state parole cases because it is not necessary. The Public Defender Office will not be representing you in your parole before the State Board of Probation and Parole.
You may find it difficult to reach your lawyer by phone because he or she is in court or elsewhere. When you do call please tell the secretary what was the last thing that happened in your case (for example, a preliminary hearing, arraignment, guilty plea, etc.) and tell her exactly what you want to discuss. Frequently she will be able to answer your questions as accurately as your lawyer and quite often she may have information that your lawyer does not have yet. If your lawyer is not in, this will help the secretary leave a helpful message for the lawyer.
If your lawyer is in, this information will help the secretary find your file so that she can give your lawyer your file and he or she can refer to it while speaking to you. If you want to make an appointment to see your lawyer, the secretary will usually be able to schedule one at that time.
If you are found guilty of a charge, by plea or by trial, the Court will almost always order a pre-sentence investigation (PSI). Unless you are in jail, it is your duty after the conviction to contact the Probation Office and arrange for an appointment to meet with a Probation Officer so that he or she can discuss your family history, work history, prior criminal record, etc. in order to prepare a PSI for the Judge. The PSI will usually include a recommendation to the Judge of your punishment.
The Court does not allow you to see the PSI, but your lawyer is allowed to read it, although he or she may not photocopy it. Unfortunately, the PSI will not usually be available for your lawyer to read until only a day or so before the sentencing. In probably over 50% of the cases the Judge will follow the sentence recommended in the PSI, but at sentencing your lawyer will be trying to get the sentence as light as possible.
In some cases your lawyer may decide that there is a chance you could benefit from a pre-trail motion, and if so, we will then file if for you. This could usually be something like trying to have the Court throw out the evidence against you that might have been illegally seized. Some motions can be filed before the date of your arraignment (or waiver of arraignment date), but most are supposed to be filed after that date.
If we file any such motions you will be immediately sent a copy of the motion. If the court sets a hearing date on the motion, we will immediately send you a copy of the order setting the hearing date, and of course, you should attend at that time.
If you have been sentenced to probation we will then close our file on you at that time. Hopefully, you will successfully complete your probation and you will never have to appear in court again. If you violate your probation, your probation officer will probably petition to have your probation taken away and to have you resentenced by the Judge. If this occurs, we will normally then reopen our file and represent you at that hearing on the revocation of your probation.
By law, you must be sentenced on or before 90 days after your conviction whether you plead guilty or are found guilty after trial by judge or jury. That time period can be waived on in some cases shortened as to as little as immediate sentencing at the time or the plea. Immediate sentencing is an exception and must be discussed with the judge and adult probation prior to the day the plea is entered so the judge is aware of the circumstances. The judge will usually advise you of the date of sentencing at the time the plea is entered. Our office also sends a letter reminding you of the date and time to appear.
Some convictions do have side effects, called collateral consequences, which are different from and in addition to any sentence the court may impose. We cannot list them all. For example, certain offenses against minor children carry registration requirements under Megan’s Law. DUI cases sometimes involve a loss of license, ignition interlock or involvement in treatment programs. Many of these are mandatory by law and out of our control once the sentence is imposed.
If your case is going to have a jury trial, you will have your jury picked on the first day of the trial term. Usually after your jury is picked the Court will inform you and the jury of what day you and the jury are to return for the actual testimony to begin. Of course, you must be present for the trial, and for the picking of the jury, and if your jury is not picked that day, you must keep coming back each day until your jury is picked. The Court will usually accept guilty pleas during the trial term for cases where the deal was not worked out until the last minute.
If your sentence had a maximum of less than 2 years you will be serving it in the county jail. If your maximum sentence was two years or more, but less than 5 years, then it is up to the Judge at the time of sentencing to state whether you will serve your time in a county jail or in a state prison. If your maximum sentence is 5 years or more, then you must serve your time in a state prison, regardless of how short your minimum sentence might be.
If you have witnesses that you want at trial or any hearing, please tell them you want them to come, and also give us their names, addresses, and phone numbers as soon as possible so we can speak with them in advance and subpoena them if we want to.
If you are serving your sentence in a county jail, then you can apply for work release. You should first ask to speak with the work release coordinator at the jail. The Public Defender secretaries, will assist in preparation of the work release papers. The Public Defender lawyers do not get involved in the work release matters unless the court has scheduled a hearing to determine if you should be taken off of work release. It can sometimes take weeks to get your work release approved.
If you know that you are going to be sentenced to jail you may come into the Public Defender Office and inquire about filling out the application for work release prior to your incarceration. The final petition cannot be submitted until you are actually in the jail. However, we can get the paperwork signed which may cut a little bit of time off your waiting time to hear if the petition is approved or disapproved.