Stephens Bill Restores Mandatory Minimums for Gun Offenses
10/28/2015
HARRISBURG—Legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to restore mandatory minimum sentences for violent criminals who illegally use firearms has passed the House.

“This legislation restores a critical tool for prosecutors across Pennsylvania to hold violent criminals accountable for their actions,” explained Stephens.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, recently invalidated many mandatory minimum sentences in Pennsylvania, including those for criminals who commit violent crimes with firearms, because the state’s law permitted a judge, rather than a jury, to determine whether the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions applied by a preponderance of the evidence. House Bill 1632 corrects these constitutional issues.

Specifically, the bill requires the fact finder, usually a jury, to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the mandatory sentence applies. The ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard is higher than the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard of the original law.

"Mandatory sentences ensure defendants who commit crimes of violence with firearms receive the punishment they deserve. They are an important tool for our prosecutors in their efforts to deter, investigate and combat violent crimes," Stephens said.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, and the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association all strongly support the bill.

"Mandatory minimum sentences are a critical tool in helping to keep our neighborhoods safe and the most dangerous offenders off our streets," said Pennsylvania District Attorney Association President and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. "My colleagues and I believe this bill is among the most important public safety pieces of legislation to come before you in years."

The bill now moves to the Senate.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
267.207.0207
dfoster@pahousegop.com
RepToddStephens.com/ Facebook.com/RepToddStephens

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