Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are very popular; they require the imposition of a sentence of a prescribed length if all criteria are met. For example, if one is convicted of possessing a certain amount of narcotics, they must receive a sentence of at least five years. Since the Anti-Drug Abuse Act created these sentencing requirements for some federal drug crimes, mandatory minimum sentencing has been the source of controversy.
How Minimum Sentences Have Changed Some Laws
Before mandatory minimum sentencing laws, federal judges were given much discretion in this regard. However, sentencing requirements are now much more rigid. The amount of a narcotic a person possessed, rather than their criminal record, determined the sentence received. A drug defense lawyer can tell clients more about minimum sentencing laws in their jurisdiction.
Determining a Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentence
Federal drug sentences are determined based on the drug type, the weight the offender has in their possession, and the person’s prior criminal record. An offender may reduce their mandatory sentence by giving prosecutors assistance in building cases against other offenders.
The Controversy Surrounding Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Some people believe that mandatory minimum sentencing requirements are not a crime deterrent. The primary arguments against the practice are:
- Prison overcrowding. The populations of federal prisons are increasing, largely due to the rise in drug convictions.
- Racial inequity. It has been shown that African-Americans are imprisoned more frequently than whites.
- Women. More women are now imprisoned for drug violations than at any point in the past.
Opponents of the practice believe that mandatory minimum sentences are unfair, costly and do nothing to eliminate sentencing disparities while avoiding punishment of high-level drug traffickers.
Do Offenders Need an Attorney with Experience in Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Cases?
If one is facing prosecution for a drug offense, a lawyer can inform them of the charges they’re facing and of the potential sentence one may encounter under mandatory minimum sentencing laws. By hiring a drug defense lawyer such as John L. Corn, Attorney at Law, a client can get courtroom representation while receiving a fair sentence. You can also connect them on Facebook for more updates.