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06/19/2024 11:06 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: November 20, 2023 08:57 AM
From: Representative Emily Kinkead
To: All House members
Subject: Modernizing the Pennsylvania Crimes Code
In 1972, the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted the modern crimes code, which consisted of 282 carefully graded criminal offenses and sub-offenses. However, since its enactment, the crimes code has exploded to contain over 1500 offenses and sub-offenses, many of which are significantly duplicative of or contradictory to other existing laws. This has resulted in a disjointed and irrational crimes code which is difficult for citizens to fully understand and for courts to interpret. Not only does this allow for significant overcharging, which has resulted in even innocent individuals feeling pressured to agree to plea deals in order to avoid risking lengthy prison sentences, this can also allow offenders to escape justice as our confusing patchwork of offenses makes it difficult for legislators to identify and fix gaps and loopholes in criminal liability.
For this reason, I will be introducing a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to establish a bipartisan task force to study issues within the crimes code, including overlapping and duplicative offenses, improper offense grading, and gaps in criminal liability. The task force would be required to provide recommendations on how to remedy any issues they discover.
This study would be an important first step toward reforming our convoluted crimes code. Please join me in creating a fairer, more effective, and more rational criminal justice system.

Introduced as HR269