Mandatory minimum sentencing laws have resulted in inflexible prison terms for people convicted of certain federal and state crimes. Originally designed to take a bite out of crime, the laws have served to undermine justice by preventing judges from fitting the punishment to the individual and the circumstances of their offenses. Most mandatory minimum sentences apply to drug offenses, but Congress has enacted them for other crimes, including certain gun, pornography, and economic offenses.
Recently, a 75 year old Alabama man was given a life sentence without the possibility of release for growing three dozen medical marijuana plants in his son’s backyard – all for personal use. Alabama law mandates that offenders with certain prior felony convictions be sentenced to life for possessing more that 2.2 pounds of marijuana. The man, who had served time 2 decades ago for robbery, had a total of 2.8 pounds, including unusable parts.
At his sentencing, the trial judge stated that if he had the option, he would sentence the man to a lesser term, believing the punishment to be too harsh. Although the sentence was upheld at the Alabama Supreme Court, one justice called the sentence “excessive and unjustified,” and said it revealed “grave flaws” in the state’s sentencing laws. Now it is left to the US Supreme Court to decide whether to hear the case on the grounds that the sentence violates the Eight Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
If you have been arrested for possession or delivery of drugs, it is important to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our lawyers can provide you with sound legal counsel and aggressive criminal defense against charges of drug possession and possession with intent. Contact us today for help.