When a defendant faces the prospect of a state prison sentence in Pennsylvania, it can be difficult to accept. As burdensome as a county jail sentence can be, whether in Philadelphia or elsewhere, for a person facing the prospect of incarceration, a state prison sentence, by its general nature, will generally involve a longer period of time in custody, and the prison sentence will often be served much farther away from home. Time away from family, work, school, and life in general will always be burdensome. For some defendants in Pennsylvania who struggle with drug and/or alcohol dependency issues, the burden of a state prison sentence can be mitigated by acceptance into the State Intermediate Punishment program.
What is Pennsylvania's State Intermediate Punishment program?
Effective May 18, 2005, a person sentenced to a state sentence may be eligible for "State Intermediate Punishment," also known as "SIP," if the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has concluded that the individual is in need of drug and/or alcohol treatment and would benefit from commitment to a drug offender program - 42 Pa.C.S.A. §9903.
Who is eligible for the State Intermediate Punishment program in Pennsylvania?
To be eligible for State Intermediate Punishment, a defendant must have no history of violent behavior, past or present.
The following defendants are also not eligible for State Intermediate Punishment:
- A defendant whose sentence includes an "enhancement" (by statute or under the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines) for the use of a deadly weapon
- A defendant who has been convicted of: 1) a personal injury crime as defined by 18 P.S. § 11.103 of the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime; or 2) a violation of: 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4302 (incest), § 5901 (open lewdness), § 6312 (abuse of children), § 6318 (unlawful contact with minor), § 6320 (sexual exploitation of children), or Chapter 76 Subchapter C (internet child pornography)
How do I get into the State Intermediate Punishment program in Pennsylvania?
The assessment for State Intermediate Punishment is performed by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and takes place before sentencing, upon motion of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which is generally represented by the District Attorney's Office of the county which is prosecuting the criminal charges against the defendant or the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office) and with the agreement of the defendant.
If the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections believes that a defendant would benefit from a drug and/or alcohol treatment program, it will provide the court, the defendant, and the attorney for the Commonwealth with a treatment proposal.
How does sentencing work with respect to the State Intermediate Punishment program?
When the court receives a Department of Corrections' recommendation that the defendant be placed in a drug offender program, with the agreement of the attorney for the Commonwealth and the defendant, the court may sentence an eligible offender to a period of 24 months' of State Intermediate Punishment if the court finds that: 1) the eligible offender is likely to benefit from State Intermediate Punishment; 2) public safety will be enhanced by the eligible offender's participation in State Intermediate Punishment; and 3) sentencing the eligible offender to state intermediate punishment will not depreciate the seriousness of the offense.
The court may also sentence the defendant to a consecutive period of probation as long as the total sentence does not exceed the maximum sentence allowed.
How long is the State Intermediate Punishment program?
State Intermediate Punishment is 24 months' long and contains several components, including prison time, time in institutional and community-based therapeutic communities, outpatient addiction treatment, and a period of supervised reintegration.
What happens if I do not successfully complete the State Intermediate Punishment program?
If the defendant is expelled from a program, he or she returns to jail or prison pending action by the sentencing court.
Unlike the proceedings for termination of county intermediate punishment, the court is required to revoke a sentence of State Intermediate Punishment, after a hearing, if the court determines that the defendant was expelled or failed to complete the treatment program. Upon revocation of a State Intermediate Punishment sentence, the sentencing alternatives available to the court are the same as those available at the initial sentencing proceeding. However, the attorney for the Commonwealth is required to file notice prior to re-sentencing of the Commonwealth's intention to proceed under a statute requiring a mandatory minimum sentence; a Tier III third DUI case, for example, would invoke such a consideration because a defendant charged with a third offense driving under the influence (involving a high rate of alcohol and/or controlled substance; or refusal to take a Breathalyzer or blood test) faces a one year mandatory minimum state prison sentence if convicted.
Pennsylvania Attorney to Help with State Intermediate Punishment | Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges is never easy, and that is why a strategic and aggressive defense must be mounted. At times, unfortunately, the stars do not align and a defendant may face the prospect of incarceration. When time in custody involves the prospect of a state sentence, a defendant and his or her family should take all possible steps to make the path forward as least burdensome as possible. For defendants who have drug and/or alcohol dependency issues, Pennsylvania's State Intermediate Punishment program can offer a solution.
If you or a loved one have questions or concerns about whether State Intermediate Punishment can make a bad situation better in Pennsylvania, including, but not limited to, Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, or Northampton County, contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento today to learn how he can help.