Title

Report on Offense Grading in Pennsylvania

Document Type

Article

Abstract

The Pennsylvania Legislature's Senate Judiciary Committee and House Judiciary Committee jointly commissioned this study of the criminal offense grading scheme contained in Pennsylvania criminal statutes. This Final Report, which was presented to a joint session of the two Committees on December 15, 2009, examines the extent to which current Pennsylvania law defines offenses with offense grades that are inconsistent with the relative seriousness of the offense as compared to other offenses, based upon an empirical survey of Pennsylvania residents.

It also examines whether some offenses include within a single grade forms of conduct of very different degrees of seriousness, for which different offense grades should be assigned. Several other sorts of grading problems are examined and illustrated.

Finally, after explaining why proper grading judgments are important, the Report discusses how the problems described came about, how they might be fixed, and how such problems might be avoided in the future.

Date of Authorship for this Version

12-16-2009

Keywords

Offense grading, mandatory minimum sentences, moral credibility, criminal code reform, Pennsylvania criminal law, proportional punishment, criminal law politics, legislation, drafting, grading offenses, inconsistent statutory language, limiting judicial discretion