In Commonwealth v. Phillips, 2008 Pa. Super. 30 (2008), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reaffirms this month that the deadly-weapon enhancement contained in the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines, 204 Pa.Code Sec. 303.10, can be applied to an unarmed co-conspirator. When the deadly-weapon enhancement is applied, the sentencing judge’s discretionary range of time to sentence a defendant greatly increases.

In this case, two men approached the robbery victim. One man carried a handgun and told the victim to empty his pockets, and the two men took the victim’s belongings and fled. In upholding the trial judge’s application of the deadly weapon enhancement, the Superior Court reasoned that the defendant appealing the case was in the immediate vicinity of his co-conspirator when the gun was used to threaten the victim, and he had knowledge of the gun and could have easily been given or taken the gun at any moment during the robbery.

At trial, attorneys should be mindful of the deadly-weapon enhancement if it appears that this will be an issue at trial and fashion a cross examination accordingly.

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