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A03824
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE RESOLUTION
No.
269
Session of
2023
INTRODUCED BY KINKEAD, RABB, MADDEN, HOHENSTEIN, KHAN, BOROWSKI,
HILL-EVANS, D. MILLER, OTTEN, SANCHEZ, KAZEEM, SCHLOSSBERG,
WARREN, DALEY, GREEN AND CEPEDA-FREYTIZ, NOVEMBER 30, 2023
AS REPORTED FROM COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, AS AMENDED, DECEMBER 10, 2023
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
Directing the Joint State Government Commission to establish a
bipartisan task force to study any consolidated or
unconsolidated State statutes in the Pennsylvania Crimes
Code, Judicial Code, Sentencing Code or elsewhere under which
a term of imprisonment and other collateral consequences may
be imposed in order to identify redundant, overlapping and
inconsistent offenses, improper grading and gaps in criminal
liability, out-of-date, antiquated, offensive or
unenforceable language and to make recommendations to the
General Assembly.
WHEREAS, In 1972, the General Assembly enacted the Crimes
Code in Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes,
which contained 282 carefully considered offenses and
suboffenses; and
WHEREAS, Since the Crimes Code's enactment, it has expanded
more than fivefold and now contains more than 1,500 offenses and
suboffenses, the majority of which were created without a
thorough review of the entire Crimes Code; and
WHEREAS, According to a 2009 report on offense grading
jointly commissioned by the Judiciary Committee of the Senate
and the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and
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authored by Professor Paul H. Robinson as well as the University
of Pennsylvania's Criminal Law Research Group, this ad hoc
expansion of the Crimes Code has resulted in a "system of
offenses marked by irrational and contradictory grading
differences, and offense grades that seriously conflict with the
values of Pennsylvania residents" in addition to various
overlapping and duplicative offenses; and
WHEREAS, The addition of numerous new offenses and changes to
the Crimes Code since the publication of the 2009 report has not
only exacerbated the issues identified in the report but has
also extended to new, inconsistent and outdated provisions in
our Commonwealth's Judicial Code and Sentencing Code, as well as
other statutes, consolidated or otherwise, for which a term of
imprisonment and other collateral consequences may be imposed;
and
WHEREAS, A rational crimes code with offenses that coincide
with the views of the residents of this Commonwealth, in
conjunction with a cohesive Sentencing Code and a consistent
Judicial Code, is necessary to build and sustain public trust in
the laws of this Commonwealth and in the interpretation of those
laws by the judiciary; and
WHEREAS, The ever-increasing size and scope of the Crimes
Code has made it difficult for legislators to identify and
remedy gaps in criminal liability within the Crimes Code; and
WHEREAS, The convoluted nature of the Crimes Code has also
made it difficult for residents to fully comprehend the offenses
and grades within the code; and
WHEREAS, This is contrary to the goal of the Crimes Code,
which is to provide the public with a clear and comprehensible
list of prohibited activities and their punishments; and
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WHEREAS, A cohesive and rational Crimes Code, Judicial Code
and Sentencing Code would be advantageous for the residents of
this Commonwealth and every constituency working within the
criminal justice process as it would serve to reduce confusion
and provide a consistent approach to crime and punishment and
any attendant penalties contained in statutes that include
offenses for which a term of imprisonment and other collateral
consequences are possible outcomes; and
WHEREAS, Eliminating or updating out-of-date, antiquated,
offensive or unenforceable language from all provisions of
Pennsylvania's Crimes Code, Judicial Code and Sentencing Code,
as well as any consolidated or unconsolidated statutes that
could result in imprisonment and other collateral consequences,
would finally modernize the language of our codes, thereby
ensuring that the State laws reflect the views of the residents
in this Commonwealth consistently and unequivocally; and
WHEREAS, The General Assembly should be knowledgeable about
the state and nature of the Crimes Code and aware of any
oversights, deficiencies and redundancies within the Code that
would best be resolved; therefore be it and
WHEREAS, The General Assembly should be knowledgeable about
the procedure and process of handling of cases involving retail
theft under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3929 across this Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, A review of the handling of retail theft cases in
this Commonwealth is necessary to determine if these cases are
being adequately handled under Pennsylvania law and if changes
are needed; therefore be it
RESOLVED (the Senate concurring), That the General Assembly
direct the Joint State Government Commission to establish a
bipartisan task force to study any consolidated or
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unconsolidated State statutes in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code,
Judicial Code, Sentencing Code or elsewhere under which a term
of imprisonment and other collateral consequences may be imposed
in order to identify redundant, overlapping and inconsistent
offenses, improper grading and gaps in criminal liability, out-
of-date, antiquated, offensive or unenforceable language and to
make recommendations to the General Assembly; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the task force consist of two members of the
Senate, one appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate
and one appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate, and two
members of the House of Representatives, one appointed by the
Speaker of the House of Representatives and one appointed by the
Minority Leader of the House of Representatives; and be it
further
RESOLVED, That the Joint State Government Commission oversee
the creation of an advisory committee to assist the task force
in conducting the study and making recommendations; and be it
further
RESOLVED, That the advisory committee shall have 30 members
appointed by the Governor with the consent and approval of the
task force, comprised of representatives from the Office of
Attorney General, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and
Delinquency, the Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania,
the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the
Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the judiciary, law
enforcement agencies, private and public organizations involved
in criminal justice issues and additional members as the task
force deems appropriate; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the task force and advisory committee shall:
(1) study the existing Crimes Code and any statutory
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offenses or suboffenses outside of the Crimes Code under
which a term of imprisonment and other collateral
consequences may be imposed;
(2) study the existing Judicial Code;
(3) study the existing Sentencing Code;
(4) identify redundant, overlapping and inconsistent
offenses, irrational and improper grading and potential gaps
in criminal liability;
(5) identify out-of-date, antiquated, offensive or
unenforceable language from all provisions of Pennsylvania's
Crimes Code, Judicial Code and Sentencing Code, as well as
any consolidated or unconsolidated statutes that could result
in imprisonment and other collateral consequences;
(6) make recommendations to the General Assembly
regarding changes in statute to remedy any defects,
redundancies and shortcomings; and
(7) make recommendations to the General Assembly
regarding updating antiquated, offensive or unenforceable
language;
and be it further
RESOLVED, That the General Assembly direct the task force and
advisory committee to conduct a thorough and comprehensive study
on the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of violations
of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3929 to:
(1) Ascertain all cases in the Commonwealth from 2018 to
2023 that included an alleged violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3929.
(2) Identify how many retail theft offenses were later
withdrawn or dismissed, including at what procedural stage
the case was withdrawn or dismissed.
(3) Determine the sentence received for defendants
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convicted under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3929 between 2018 and 2023.
(4) Outline the sentencing guidelines for all of the
charges in the cases for defendants who were originally
charged with retail theft between 2018 and 2023.
(5) For an individual charged with retail theft between
2018 and 2023, determine if that individual was subsequently
rearrested for retail theft, including an act, conspiracy or
solicitation to commit retail theft, within the last five
years.
(6) For individuals sentenced to probation or granted
parole following a conviction for retail theft, determine if
any individuals subsequently violated the terms of
supervision for any reason in the last five years following
sentencing or parole;
and be it further
RESOLVED, That the task force report its findings and
recommendations to the General Assembly within one year TWO
YEARS of the adoption of this resolution.
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