Erie, PA asked in Criminal Law for Pennsylvania

Q: Is there any way to get a consecutive sentence turned into a concurrent sentence?

My dad was convicted and sentenced to 9-20 years on 4 counts in 2003. Only one of which had a Pennsylvania minimum sentence, which of course he has fulfilled. He sent me a letter with this website in it, asking me to ask on here if there is a way to change the sentences as it would shorten his sentence by almost half

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brian Fishman
Brian Fishman
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: I'm sorry to hear about your father's situation. I'm a bit confused when you indicate "only one of which had a Pennsylvania minimum sentence"? All sentences in Pennsylvania by law have a minimum and a maximum and the minimum can never be more than half of the maximum. So, a 9-20 year sentence is legal but an 11-20 year sentence is not. Regardless, it sounds like your father may have received sentences on 4 counts such as 2 years, 3 months to 5 years with all to run consecutive (or one after the other) such that it added up to 9-20 years. As described above, it is unfortunately a legal sentence. There are two main ways to attack a sentence: (1) file a post-sentence motion alleging that the sentence is unjust and extreme or (2) filing an appeal to the PA Superior Court alleging the same. However, a post-sentence motion must be filed within 10 days of the date the sentence is imposed, which your father is clearly past if his sentence was handed down in 2003. And, a notice of appeal to the PA Superior Court must be filed within 30 days of the date of sentence, which your father is also clearly past. Furthermore, in order to attack a sentence on these grounds on appeal, they must first be raised in a post-sentence motion filed with the trial judge or the issue is likely waived for appeal.

So, since all of this happened so long ago, the only way your father would have the opportunity for relief is if his then-attorney took these steps and he didn't get the relief he was seeking but your father continued to fight his sentence through the PA Supreme Court or even into federal court with a Writ of Habeus Corpus. If your father has continually fought the issue of his sentencing and is still in court fighting the issue, then he always has a chance of gaining some relief. But, if the situation is that nothing was done for years and he now suddenly wants consecutive to turn into concurrent, he is likely well out of time to get back into court. Of course my answer doesn't consider all situations and there are always extenuating circumstances where your father may be entitled to some relief. But, I'm providing you with the basic procedure and law regarding challenging a sentence.

I know this may not be the answer that you or your father were looking for but I'm trying to provide you with the most accurate information. If I can be of assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Brian M. Fishman

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