Topic: Two Strikes Law – Burglary
Summary: Under the two strikes law (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9714), the facts that make the mandatory sentence applicable are found by the sentencing court and not by the jury. In the case of a burglary, the mandatory sentence is applicable if the sentencing court can find that a person was present in the structure that was burglarized and the structure has overnight accommodations.
Illustration: Eric Samuel was tried for burglary. Although he had a jury, the jury did not make any findings of fact as far as whether there was a person in the home that Samuel burglarized. There was testimony and statements from defense counsel conceding that a person was present at the time of the burglary. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9714 does not require that a jury find the fact that makes the mandatory sentence applicable, the facts merely need to be presented to the sentencing court.