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Commonwealth v. Chichkin

Pennsylvania Superior Court

May 20, 2020

In these two appeals, the Superior Court considered the constitutionality of the provision of the mandatory minimum sentencing statute for driving under the influence (DUI), which treated a prior acceptance of accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) in a DUI case as a prior conviction for sentencing enhancement purposes. The Court held that the defendants were not afforded their constitutional protections under Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), vacated the defendants’ judgments of sentence and remand for re-sentencing as first-time DUI offenders.

The Court analyzed the DUI and ARD statutes with the tenets of Alleyne. The Court ruled, because the defendants’ prior acceptances of ARD did not constitute convictions “cloaked in all the constitutional safeguards,” they were a “fact” that pursuant to Alleyne, Apprendi, and their progeny, must be presented to the fact finder and determined beyond a reasonable doubt before a trial court may impose a mandatory minimum sentence under Section 3804. Accordingly, that portion of 75 Pa.C.S. § 3806(a), which statutorily equated a prior acceptance of ARD to a prior conviction for purposes of subjecting a defendant to a mandatory minimum sentence under Section 3804, was unconstitutional. The Court held, if the Commonwealth seeks to enhance a defendant’s DUI sentence based upon that defendant’s prior acceptance of ARD, the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant actually committed the prior DUI offense. Any lesser standard would violate due process concerns.

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