Commonwealth v. Chichkin

In these two appeals, the 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 Appellants were not afforded their constitutional protections under Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), vacated Appellants’ judgments of sentence, and remand for re-sentencing as first-time DUI offenders.

In 2018, the two Appellants were convicted of DUI (second offense) and sentenced to mandatory minimums because both had a prior DUI with an ARD disposition. Appellants objected to the imposition of the “second offense” mandatory minimum sentence. The Municipal Court imposed mandatory minimum sentences, and, in both cases, the Court of Common Pleas denied a writ of cert. Appellants appealed.

The Court analyzed the DUI and ARD statutes with the tenets of Alleyne. The Court ruled because Appellants’ prior acceptances of ARD did not constitute convictions “cloaked in all the constitutional safeguards,” they are 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 equates a prior acceptance of ARD to a prior conviction for purposes of subjecting a defendant to a mandatory minimum sentence under Section 3804, is unconstitutional.  
The Court determined that, 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.14 Any lesser standard would violate due process concerns.