Mandatory-Minimum Sentence for Drug Offense Committed with Firearm Affirmed by Superior Court Where Gun Found in Basement of Apartment Building

by | May 5, 2012

In Commonwealth v. Hawkins, ___ A.3d ___ (2012), 2012 Pa. Super. 85 (Apr. 12, 2012), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a mandatory-minimum sentence of five years imprisonment for certain drug offenses committed with a firearm under 42 Pa.C.S. Sec. 9712.1.  Hawkins’ criminal lawyer argued in this case that the sentencing court should had not have applied the mandatory-minimum sentence.

In Hawkins, the defendant sold drugs from his apartment, which was located on the first floor of a building that contained multiple apartments.  When the police searched the building, they found a gun in the basement, which was a common area inside the defendant’s apartment, but an area to which he had access.  The basement had an entry from the defendant’s apartment, but was also accessible to residents of the other apartments from an outside door.  In addition, the police found a black set of scales both inside the bag with the firearm and they found scales inside his bedroom.  Finally, there was no evidence that the gun or the bag belonged to any of the other tenants, and it was accessible from the defendant’s apartment within 10 to 15 seconds in the basement.

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