In Pennsylvania, trial judges have guidelines to help them determine the sentence for every criminal offense. Judges use a calculation based on the gravity score of each offense – a number that represents the offense’s seriousness — and an offender’s prior criminal record. The lower the gravity score and the fewer the prior convictions, the shorter the guideline sentence.
In most instances, judges will follow these calculations. However Pennsylvania judges can use their discretion and deviate based on mitigating factors.
There are two instances however when a judge is not allowed to deviate:
If an offense has mandatory minimum sentencing and an offender has to serve jail time specified by law.
Judges are not allowed to sentence offenders to more jail time than is specified by law.