What are mandatory minimums, and why do they matter?

If you get into trouble with the law and face a federal felony offense, you need to know that you could face mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimum sentencing is difficult to deal with because it means that there is a set sentence that must be served upon conviction. The only way to avoid it would be to have the charge changed or dropped, in most cases.

A mandatory minimum is normally set by Congress or the state. In cases involving this minimum sentence, the judge is required to give the defendant that sentence if they are convicted, even if there were unique circumstances or other factors that the judge would have liked to have considered.

In most situations, mandatory minimums only apply to drug and gun cases, but they can be present in other types of cases, too.

Why are mandatory minimum sentences bad for defendants?

Mandatory minimum sentences are bad because they assume that all people should face the same penalties for crimes that fall into the same category. The problem with this is that not all crimes are the same, even when they may be similar. The reasoning for committing a crime might be different, or the circumstances may have justified committing a crime to protect someone. Unfortunately, a conviction has to result in the same penalties across the board in mandatory minimum sentences. Even if the judge would prefer to issue no sentence at all, their hands are tied.

If there is a mandatory minimum sentence that goes with a charge that you’re facing, you need to defend yourself cautiously. The reality is that the sentence may be just, but it’s just as likely to be unfair based on the circumstances of the case.

Some claim that mandatory minimum sentences eliminate bias, but while the sentencing is simple and straightforward, there can still be room for error. This is why it’s always in your best interests to defend against the charges and to take steps to avoid a conviction. If your case can be dismissed or you prove you’re not guilty, then you likely won’t face penalties.