Under criminal laws, some crimes must be punished by a minimum amount of years in jail or prison. These jail terms are often set by guidelines and statements set out in criminal statutes. Such statutes are typically called mandatory sentencing laws, or mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.
Mandatory sentencing most commonly applies to drug charges, especially in cases involving repeat offenses. Other areas of law may apply mandatory sentencing as well, such as federal trademark laws.
Can Mandatory Sentences Be Changed?
In many cases, mandatory sentences are not subject to much change. However, there are certain instances in which a mandatory sentence can be lowered or changed in a way that is somewhat more favorable for the defendant.
For instance, in a drug crime case, certain mandatory sentences may apply when the defendant has a prior felony record. However, under some laws like the Controlled Substances Act, the prosecutor often has a choice of whether or not to disclose the defendant’s prior felony record. If the prosecuting attorney exercises their discretion not to make such disclosures, the mandatory sentence may not apply.
Other options available for the defendant may be for them to provide information or evidence regarding other criminal suspects. In exchange, their mandatory sentence may be lowered after they provide the disclosures. Also, a sentence may be lowered as a result of applicable jail credit.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Mandatory Sentencing?
Mandatory sentencing laws can be quite complex. They also contain many exceptions that might allow a sentence to changed or altered. You may wish to hire a criminal lawyer if you need help with any type of criminal matters. An attorney can help determine what types of options are available for you. Also, your lawyer can help explain mandatory sentencing laws, so that you can understand how such laws might affect your case.