In Pennsylvania, the state sentencing guidelines assign a number known as the Offense Gravity Score (OGS) to represent the seriousness of the crime committed.
For instance, misdemeanors range in score from one to three while felonies range in score from five or higher. If you are facing charges, a criminal defense attorney from our firm can help you understand what Pennsylvania’s Offense Gravity Score is and represent you in court.
How Does the Offense Gravity Score Work in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania’s Offense Gravity Score is a scale judges use to determine an appropriate sentence for a defendant who has been found guilty of a crime, according to 204 Pa. Code § 303.3. The highest number on the scale is 15, which would be assigned when someone commits first or second-degree murder.
The judge in the case will weigh the crime and any mitigating or aggravating factors in addition to your prior record, if you have one, in order to hand down a sentence. The higher the Offense Gravity Score, the more prison time you could receive.
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Mandatory Minimums and Maximum Penalties for Pennsylvania Sentencing
A judge can sentence you to up to 20 years in prison for committing a first-degree felony and they usually have wide discretion when it comes to sentencing. However, there are some sentences that are out of their control. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws in Pennsylvania require judges to hand down at least the minimum sentence for certain offenses.
So, it could be the first crime you’ve ever committed and you have a previously clean record, but mandatory sentencing laws will require you to serve the minimum sentence.
As for maximum penalties, the judge cannot sentence you to more than 20 years in prison for committing a first-degree felony and cannot fine you more than $25,000.
How Are Prior Record Scores Calculated?
A Prior Record Score (PRS) is how many juvenile adjudications and criminal convictions you have on your record prior to the current conviction. The more of either you have, the higher your Prior Record Score will be.
There are a few Prior Record Score categories as outlined in 204 Pa. Code § 303.4. The categories include:
- Point-based categories zero to five
- Repeat Violent Offender
- Felony One Violent Repeat Offender
- Felony Two Violent Repeat Offender
The judge will consider the combination of your Prior Record Score and your Offense Gravity Score, but the lower your Prior Record Score is, the lighter your sentence could be unless there is a mandatory minimum.
Do Mitigating and Aggravating Factors Affect The Offense Gravity Score?
Mitigating factors are aspects that may reduce your sentence. These include:
- Cooperating with the police
- Past good deeds
- Showing sincere remorse
- Intent to continue your education
- No prior criminal record
- Steady employment
- Mental illness
On the other hand, aggravating factors can have a negative impact on sentencing, including:
- History of violence
- Prior criminal record
- Refusing to cooperate with law enforcement
- Committing the crime in front of a child
- Amount of harm to the victim
- Lack of sincere remorse
A criminal defense attorney from our firm can help you determine what mitigating and aggravating factors may help or hurt your case. These factors can also impact your attorney’s ability to negotiate a plea deal on your behalf with the prosecutor.
How Can My Lawyer Negotiate a Favorable Sentence?
We primarily handle criminal defense cases, so we have experience negotiating more favorable sentences for our clients. Mitigating factors can certainly make negotiating a plea easier, but there are other reasons why the prosecutor may be open to a deal, including:
- Weak evidence
- Reluctant witnesses
- You have no prior record
- A strong legal defense
Your attorney can build a strong legal defense by reviewing and challenging the evidence, gathering credible character witnesses, demonstrating that you are not a flight risk or a threat to the community, showing that you have positive employment, and providing evidence that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol if that’s the case.
Learn More About Pennsylvania’s Offense Gravity Score Today
Pennsylvania’s Offense Gravity Score serves as a guide that judges use to hand down sentences. That doesn’t mean you are guilty of a crime. Only a verdict determines guilt. The OGS only comes into play if you are found guilty.
If you face criminal prosecution for any offense, the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC offers free consultations. We are ready to talk to you about your case and answer any questions you may have about Pennsylvania’s Offense Gravity Score today.