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Sentencing in Pennsylvania


Sentencing is "[t]he judicial determination of the penalty for a crime." Sentencing, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). In Pennsylvania, sentencing is influenced by the Sentencing Guidelines created and maintained by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.

The resources in this guide highlight sources available to Jenkins' members freely online, on member databases, or in the library. Onsite Lexis and Westlaw access is noted when available. Additional resources may also be useful and library users are encouraged to search the Jenkins' catalog. Visitors to Jenkins may also want to browse the shelves around call number KFP561 through KFP598. Primary source materials like statutes, court rules, and caselaw should also be consulted; see the PA Law guides for how to access primary source materials.

Those researching sentencing may also want to look at the Pennsylvania Criminal Law guide.

Sentencing in the Statutes

Sentencing information for various crimes can frequently be found in the Pennsylvania statutes. Generally, sentencing information is found at 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 9701 et seq. Information on crimes and offenses can be found in 18 Pa.C.S. Additional information may be found in other areas of the Pennsylvania statutes; conduct a search or use the index to find relevant sections.

Not all Pennsylvania laws have been consolidated into the subject codified statutes. Researchers should search the Consolidated Statutes and the Unconsolidated Statutes (by Act) to find all relevant laws. For more information about finding and researching Pennsylvania laws, see the Pennsylvania Statutes research guide.

The Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission's website provides citations to various sentencing statutes.

About the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing

The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing (PCS), as authorized by 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 2151.1 et seq., was created in 1978 (1978, Nov. 26, P.L. 1316, No. 319 / legislative history) to create and maintain a statewide sentencing policy. Additional acts have authorized the PCS to develop the following additional policies (use the credit notes found with the following statute sections to find the relevant act(s)):

The PCS is in varying stages of research and development for these guidelines. More information can be found on their website.

Interactive Data Portal Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing

The PCS provides free online access to an Interactive Data Portal that covers sentencing statistics from 2015 - 2021. The data ranges from General Information, Sentence Lengths, Sentencing Outcome Reports, and Sentencing Conformity Reports. This data gives insight on sentencing information (including geographic, demographic, and crime details), sentence length based on criminal, court, and case details, sentences imposed by crime type, and sentence conformity to the guidelines.