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Commonwealth v. Johnson

Pennsylvania Superior Court

October 9, 2020

In Commonwealth v. Johnson, the Superior Court confronted an issue critical for lawyers who practice in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The defendant was convicted of robbery in Pennsylvania but had a prior third-degree aggravated assault conviction from New Jersey. The trial court considered the foreign conviction a “strike” under 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 9714 — Pennsylvania’s recidivist sentencing statute. But under New Jersey law, third-degree aggravated assault under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(7) involves “significant bodily injury,” not “serious bodily injury,” as is required for an aggravated assault conviction in Pennsylvania. As such, the New Jersey conviction was not a predicate offense and the trial court erred in imposing the mandatory minimum sentence. 

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