Criminal convictions are extremely serious, as they leave you with penalties that can carry on for the rest of your life. For instance, it will be more difficult to get a job, make you ineligible for student loans, and make it hard on you to find housing. You may not have even been incarcerated; no, being called a “criminal felon” is enough to change your life forever. This is why many think that incarcerating people for nonviolent drug offenses is unfair in many ways. You may have heard of many public figures over the past few years that have gotten convicted of drug crimes in outrageous ways. For instance, a 46-year-old man was convicted in April 2013 for selling $1,800 worth of painkillers.He was sentenced to an outrageous 25 years in prison! This is due to the mandatory minimum sentence that unfortunately is never changed in the eyes of the court. Another sad case is Ronald Evans who, in 1993, was at the end of his teenage years when he was an aid in distributing heroin and cocaine. Prosecutors unfortunately decided it was fair to estimate the amount of drugs that he was responsible for. Co-defendants testified to this amount and he was given a life sentence for his actions. Evans is in his early 40s now and has spent the majority of life behind bars because of these actions.
Why are these sentences both extreme and unfair?
If you are convicted of a drug-related crime, you may find that you will never return to the life you once had due to strict laws. For instance, say that you are here as an immigrant. If you have an arrest or even a conviction for a drug-related crime, you could be deported as easily as that! Punishments can range anywhere from denying child custody to banishing voting rights, employment, business loans, trade licensing, student aid and public housing. Another problem is that many believe that there is racism involved in these convictions. Many people have tried an illicit drug, this much is true. However, it seems as if people of color are targeted most often and having their rights stripped right out of their hands. Communities of color endure punishments for drug violations on an unjustifiably harsh level, causing more harm than the drug itself ever would have.
Penalties even for as little as simple possession range from a fine of less than $100 or a few days in jail to thousands of dollars and several years in state prison, attempting to get your life back. Heavier penalties come for crimes like distributing drugs to others or cultivating and manufacturing. Yes, sometimes prosecutors will offer plea deals if the offender is able to lead them to the arrest of an organized crime leader. However, this is seen as rare and does not happen too often. So where did all these harsh sentences come from? In 1986, many of these minimum sentencing guidelines were enacted to target high-level distributors and throw them behind bars even though they also now impact lower-level drug defendants. Many of these sentences are based on the type of drug, the weight of the drug, and the number of prior convictions.
Many people have been arrested due to crimes involving drugs. Many people have also had what could have been a small case turn into an extremely large case costing them aspects of their everyday life in the process. Because of this, if you have been arrested for a drug crime, you should always have an attorney on your side. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair today to speak to an attorney with experience that can guide you through this complex process!