What is mandatory minimum sentencing and why do so many people have an aversion to the idea? Mandatory minimum sentencing laws have been put in place for crimes that judges are not able to lower. As you know, when you have plead guilty or are found guilty, the sentencing judge assigned to your case will decide your punishment. Punishments are always supposed to be proportionate to the crime, which means that you wouldn’t, say, spend ten years in prison over stealing a pack of gum from the store. This is considered outrageous.
Most of the time, judges choose to not adhere so strictly to the sentencing. Perhaps you were looking at five years for a crime but a judge believed that, since this was your first crime ever, you shouldn’t be sentenced so harshly. Many judges have discretion over these practices and can decide what seems fair and what doesn’t. Judges will take many factors into consideration, such as what role you actually played in the crime, if you hurt somebody through your actions, and your mental state at the time of the crime.
So, What Do Mandatory Minimums Do?
If the crime you committed is covered under mandatory minimum sentencing, this changes things drastically. This means that the judge in your case loses most of the discretion in setting your punishment, which means that you will get at least the minimum sentence set in place by the law if you are found guilty. Even if the judge wants to be lenient with you, they have no discretion to do so and you have to “take what you get.” On top of that, if the judge decides to consider aggravating factors, you could see even harsher penalties on top of that.
Many of these crimes revolve around drug crimes. For instance, if you are found possessing 100 grams of heroin under the law, you will spend at least five years in prison. Even if a judge wants to give you less, they won’t be able to under the law.
We understand the ins and outs of mandatory minimum sentences and want to help in your time of need. If you believe that a sentence is unfair because you have not actually committed the crime or you have a valid defense, you may want to speak with us as soon as possible. Call us at the Law Office of Peter Blair to get started.