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Mandatory Drug Sentencing Laws

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What Are Mandatory Drug Sentencing Laws?

Mandatory drug sentencing laws create punishments that involve a minimum number of years in prison for certain drug crimes. Such laws are also called mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws. Such laws were created in response to crackdowns on certain types of dangerous street drugs. These include crack cocaine, methamphetamines, and various types of new “designer drugs” such as ecstasy.

Mandatory drug sentencing laws limit the amount of discretion that a judge has in issuing a sentence for drug crimes. Instead, the jail or prison times are stated specifically in criminal statutes.

What Are Some Examples of Mandatory Drug Sentencing Laws?

Criminal sentencing for drug crimes is often based on a few key factors. These may include the type of drug involved, the amount of drug in possession, and whether or not the person intended to distribute the drug.

For instance, a minimum sentence law on crack cocaine might prescribe the following sentences:

  • A minimum of five years in prison for crack cocaine charges involving up to 5 grams of crack
  • A minimum of 10 years in prison for charges involving  50 grams of crack cocaine
  • 5 year minimum for personal possession of more than 5 grams of crack cocaine

Are There Any Disadvantages to Mandatory Sentencing?

Mandatory drug sentencing laws have often been criticized due to their harshness and inflexibility. For instance, such laws often do not take into account other factors such as the offender’s age or their prior criminal background.

In addition, some people consider mandatory sentencing laws as discriminatory, as penalties for certain drugs tend to be harsher than others. The argument is that certain drugs are associated with specific communities or races.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Drug Sentencing Laws?

Drug sentences often follow a complex scheme of statutory laws that can be difficult to understand. You may wish to hire a criminal lawyer if you need help with minimum drug sentences or any other criminal issues. Your attorney can provide you with the legal advice and defense representation that is necessary in a criminal trial.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 03-12-2014 09:54 AM PDT

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