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Understanding mandatory minimum sentencing

When people face criminal charges, it is always a serious matter. Though it is important for them to face consequences when they commit crimes, there is talk about making sure the sentencing fits the crime.

If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, mandatory minimum sentencing may determine your penalty. When encountering such charges, there are a few important things to understand.

Definition

In short, a mandatory minimum sentence is a predetermined amount of time guilty parties must serve for certain crimes. This usually deals with serious violent crimes, such as murder, assault or kidnapping.

However, it also stands for some less violent crimes, such as drug charges. The United States Sentencing Commission provides resources to review the full breakdown of mandatory minimum sentencing.

Impact

As the definition alludes, this policy requires that guilty parties spend a set amount of time in jail for a crime. Lawmakers put the regulation in place to discourage and decrease the instances of such crimes. Though this may seem beneficial, it has some negative outcomes. Those who commit non-violent crimes yet face these minimum sentence terms may end up paying a higher price for their infraction than what it is worth.

It also contributes to the increase in and maintenance of large numbers of prisoners and overcrowding of jails across the nation. This law ties the hands of judges, which makes it imperative that defendants have proper attorney counsel for any chance of avoiding serious penalties.

Conflicting views

There are those who still believe in the founding principles behind the law, while many other lawmakers believe reform is necessary. Under the Obama administration, measures were put in place to reduce the sentencing for lower level and non-violent crimes. However, there are those in the new administration who are working to reverse the recent progress.

This is a brief overview of mandatory minimum sentencing. Take some time to review the current policies yourself so that you may fully understand what you or a loved one may have to face.

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