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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOSEPH ALLEN (06/27/85)

decided: June 27, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
JOSEPH ALLEN, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Trial Division, Criminal Section, dated February 8, 1984, entered at No. 41 March Term, 1983.

COUNSEL

Eric B. Henson, Deputy Dist. Atty., Harriet R. Brumberg, Steven Cooperstein, Philadelphia, for appellant.

John W. Packel, Chief, Appeals Div., Leonard Sosnou, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Larsen, J., joins in this opinion and files a concurring opinion.

Author: Nix

[ 508 Pa. Page 115]

OPINION

The issue in this appeal is the constitutionality of section 9714 of the Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Act ("Act"), 42 Pa.C.S. § 9714, which requires the imposition of a minimum sentence of five (5) years' total confinement upon persons convicted of certain violent felonies upon proof that the defendant has been previously convicted in a federal or state court of a crime of violence. For the reasons expressed in our decision in Commonwealth v. Wright, 508 Pa. 25, 494 A.2d 354 (1985), we conclude that Section 9714

[ 508 Pa. Page 116]

    of the Act, like section 9712, 42 Pa.C.S. § 9712, satisfies the minimum requirements of due process.

I.

Appellee Allen was arrested in connection with a barroom stabbing and charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and possession of an instrument of crime. After a bench trial he was convicted of all charges. Prior to sentencing appellee filed a motion to bar application of the Act. The trial court, concluding that the prior conviction which triggers section 9714's mandatory sentencing provision was an element of the current offense required to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, held section 9714 unconstitutional and declined to apply it. Appellee was sentenced to a term of eleven and one-half (11 1/2) to twenty-three (23) months in county prison to be followed by two (2) years probation. The Commonwealth has appealed that sentence.*fn1

II.

Section 9714 of the Act,*fn2 entitled "Sentences for second and subsequent offenses," ...


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