Our criminal justice system is a complex mixture of laws and standards, not all of which have widespread support. Although there’s a lot to fix in the way we apply the law and subject convicted individuals to penalties, few problems receive as much attention as mandatory minimums.
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws create minimum prison sentences for certain state and federal crimes. When a mandatory minimum applies, judges cannot give a lower sentence, even if extenuating circumstances are present that would reasonably call for leniency.
Mandatory minimums can come into play in various cases, but are most commonly associated with federal drug crimes involving a certain amount of a controlled substance. For example, a first time offender found in possession of 500 grams of cocaine or 100 or more marijuana plants could face a 5-year federal mandatory minimum sentence. These mandatory minimums can increase substantially if the quantity increases or an individual has prior convictions.
Examples of federal crimes in which mandatory minimums apply include:
- Drug trafficking
- Certain weapons offenses
- Certain immigration offenses
- Aggravated identity theft
- Various sex crimes and child pornography offenses
- Three strikes law
- Certain white collar crimes
- Bank robbery, racketeering, and organized crime
Mandatory minimums have received a considerable amount of criticism since their implementation. For one, many believe they undermine justice by prohibiting discretion and preventing judges from enacting punishment that makes sense given a particular individual and the unique circumstance of an offense. Additionally, state and federal prison populations surged in part due to mandatory minimums, which led to overcrowding, exorbitant costs, and diversion of funds.
Federal crime allegations should never be taken lightly, but they become even more serious when mandatory minimums come into play. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass, our criminal defense lawyer is passionate about protecting the rights of the criminally accused and helping them pursue the most favorable resolutions possible in both state and federal cases. To speak with an attorney about your case, contact us today.