Pennsylvania v. Hopkins (majority)Annotate this Case
The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on the constitutionality and severability of 18 Pa.C.S. section 6317(a), which imposed a mandatory minimum sentence of two years total confinement upon a defendant for a conviction if a delivery or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance occurs within 1,000 feet of, inter alia, a school in light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in "Alleyne v. United States," (133 S. Ct. 2151 (2013)). In 2013, the Pennsylvania State Police filed a criminal complaint against Appellee Kyle Hopkins, charging him with various violations of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act. The charges arose from three incidents which took place over three days in April 2012, during which Appellee sold heroin to a confidential informant in Kennett Square Borough and New Garden Township, Chester County. One sale allegedly occurred in a school zone. Appellee was held for court on all charges stemming from those instances, in all, Appellee had 12 counts against him. The trial court reasoned that it was bound by the United States Supreme Court's decision in "Alleyne," and granted Appellee's Motion for Extraordinary Relief. The Commonwealth appealed. After review, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed, holding that numerous provisions of Section 6317 were "constitutionally infirm" under Alleyne. Moreover, the remaining provisions of Section 6317, standing alone, were incomplete and "incapable of being vindicated in accord with the intent of the General Assembly." Because of the significant provisions found to violate the Constitution and the remaining unoffending provisions of Section 6317 were incapable of being severed. The Court declined to "rewrite Section 6317 or create a substantive offense which the General Assembly clearly did not desire."