What Mandatory Minimum Sentences Could Mean For Your Case
Posted on Mar 25, 2015 in Criminal Defense
In March of 2014, Louisiana House Bill 332 was approved without dissent by the Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. The Bill was then voted on by the full Louisiana House and Senate. The Bill’s aim was to double the mandatory minimum sentence for heroin crimes, according to the Times Picayune.
Heroin is not the only crime in the state of Louisiana for which mandatory minimum sentences exist. Mandatory minimums are prevalent both in Louisiana’s penal code and in the federal code for drug crimes, violent crimes and even property crimes. While law enforcement officers and lawmakers are often in favor of mandatory minimums because of a belief that harsh sentences will have a deterrent impact on crime, the reality is that these sentences can result in unfair outcomes.
The bottom line is if you are convicted of a crime with a mandatory minimum sentence, you will go to jail for the length of time required. Your only option to avoid this is to avoid being convicted or to negotiate a deal with a prosecutor to admit guilt on a lesser charge. The New Orleans criminal defense law firm of Bloom Legal will help you if you are charged with an offense carrying mandatory minimums so you can fight hard to avoid going to jail.
The Consequences of Mandatory Minimums on Your New Orleans Criminal Case
When you are convicted of a crime with a mandatory minimum penalty, the judge does not have discretion to consider the facts and circumstances surrounding your actions.
There may be mitigating circumstances to explain why a person acted the way he or she did when committing a crime. People who are relatively innocent but get caught up in a bad situation could also find themselves facing a long mandatory minimum sentence that isn’t really appropriate given their actual role in the criminal act.
Although there are plenty of reasons why a long sentence may not be appropriate to a particular case, there is nothing that a judge can do when the law requires a mandatory minimum. Not only can this result in an individual defendant being sentenced to an unfairly harsh penalty, but it can also affect efforts to reduce overall crime. A lengthy required prison sentence for drug crimes removes the opportunity to explore alternatives, like treating the addiction rather than just penalizing the use of the drug.
Human Rights Watch also reports on another major problem with mandatory minimum sentencing laws: prosecutors are threatening defendants with charges for federal drug crimes with very long mandatory minimum sentences if the defendants don’t agree to a plea deal.
Low-level street dealers and couriers are being faced with sentences Congress meant to restrict to drug kingpins because the mandatory minimum sentence laws are written to apply to the type and weight of the drug, rather than the actual role of the offender. Defendants don’t want to risk spending decades in jail, so they end up admitting guilt and being deprived of their opportunity to have a fair trial.
How a Criminal Defense Law Firm in New Orleans Can Help
Since mandatory minimums are the law despite the problems, it is imperative you get help from a legal advocate to try to avoid conviction for a crime with a lengthy mandatory minimum sentence. Contact Bloom Legal to get help from a criminal defense law firm in New Orleans who can represent you.