Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in a majority opinion, that any ambiguity in Pennsylvania’s Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program (“RRRI”) statute must be resolved in favor of criminal defendants.  This case involved whether the single, present conviction for a violent crime in this case constituted a “history of present or past violent behavior”.  The RRRI statute provides that a history of present or past violent behavior disqualifies a defendant from RRRI. Finding ambiguity in the statute, and that the rule of lenity requires ambiguity to be resolved in favor of defendants, the court found that the single, present conviction for a violent crime does not disqualify an individual from eligibility for the Program. Keep in mind that there are certain other enumerated offenses that can disqualify a person from entry into the program, but the violent crime in this case, a single count of burglary, is not one of the enumerated disqualifying crimes.

To read the case of Commonwealth v. Cullen Doyle, 16 WAP 2016 (Pa. Supreme Court July 20, 2017), click here.