Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Federal Crimes
In the Booker case, the Supreme Court created some discretion for Judges handing down sentences in criminal cases. The Booker case represents a break from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines as mandatory and now makes them advisory. Since that decision the creation of minimum mandatory sentencing has evolved as to prevent the Judges from utilizing the discretion Booker provided. Mandatory minimum sentence are applicable in drug crimes, gun offenses, child pornography, and criminal identity theft
Most recently I consulted on a case that involved aggravated identity theft and involved a very large hacker network that would teach others how to obtain information to commit identity theft. Although this person had no prior record the charge carried a severe mandatory minimum punishment.
Because this person cooperated and the charges involved other more culpable individual the sentence imposed was less than the mandatory minimum.
The government will use these crimes as a form of persuasion to coerce or intimidate an accused individual into cooperating rather than asserting their innocence and going to trial. Government cooperation and acceptance of responsibility can alleviate the strain of mandatory minimum sentences. A 5K letter from the Government for early cooperation is the most favorable tool a defendant has against mandatory minimum sentences. In some cases I have advised clients that are facing serious federal charges and lengthy prison sentences to be the proffer evidence in order to avoid indictment on a mandatory minimum case. An honest proffer and acceptance of responsibility for criminal behavior are mitigation that in Orlando will typically cut time off of the sentence imposed.
ORLANDO FEDERAL ATTORNEY will fight and advocate for you to not get sentenced under a minimum mandatory crime.
Mandatory minimum sentencing must be imposed by the Judge. The Judge may be sympathetic to a particular defendant but the Judge cannot make the decision as to what the defendant is charged with. The Government decides what crime to charge and so the decision to charge a crime that carries a minimum mandatory sentence rest solely with the United States Attorney’s Office. Ten years ago mandatory minimum offenses were essentially limited to drug crimes. The Federal Government has increased the scope and types of offenses that carry these harsh sentences. Gun offenses often act as a kicker when the conviction is coupled with a drug crime. A federal drug offense coupled with a firearm carries minimum mandatory sentencing and even the most reasonable prosecutor has all the leverage in that scenario. Aggravated identity theft like the client I described above carries a 2 year minimum, but these sentences are avoidable with an experienced attorney.
ORLANDO FEDERAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY will give you an honest and informed perspective on the sentencing challenges in determining the best course of action.
Persuading a prosecutor to plea a case and reduce the charged crime to relieve the minimum mandatory sentencing is often an amazing result for a client that could be facing many years in prison. The bottom line is that many cases are not suitable for trial, the evidence is strong and the risk is high. I am the kind of lawyer that takes cases to trial and has lengthy conversations with clients about the potential consequences. If the client is unsure about their ability to be successful in trial the most advantageous path may be to negotiate a plea and quickly because many times in cases with multiple defendants especially fraud and criminal conspiracies the first people to negotiate the plea will garner the most favor when it time for sentencing.
If the charge is a simple possession charge, it means that the arresting officer felt the person in possession of the controlled substance did not make the substance, was not going to distribute the drugs, did not intend to sell what they had in possession and was probably just going to use the drugs themselves. A person charged with simple possession may be charged with anything from a first degree misdemeanor for a small amount of marijuana up to a third degree felony.
What constitutes possession? In order for the prosecution to prove that a person was in possession of a controlled substance, it must be proven that the controlled substance was, in fact, illegal; the person who was in possession of the controlled substance knew or should have known the substance was present and it was illegal and finally, that the defendant was actually in control of the location and presence of the drug. A new component and has been challenged recently as to whether the possessor had to have knowledge of the illicit nature of the substance.
The more serious drug offenses are possession with intent to sell the controlled substance and trafficking which is a broad legal term based on a larger than typical quantity. Knowing the trafficking weights is important because it could be the difference between probation and mandatory prison. In order for the government and the prosecution to make this charge stick, the prosecution must prove all of the elements of simple possession, and then prove that the defendant was actually going to distribute or sell the drugs to others. Charges here may range from a third degree felony for someone charged with intent to deliver marijuana up to second degree felony charges that may be filed for more dangerous types of drugs.
What are the defenses against these charges?
This is where an aggressive, experienced lawyer, like Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Joe Knape is needed to represent you in your case. Don’t just take the plea deal. Your attorney can try to prove that the accused had no knowledge of the drug, or had no knowledge that the drug was illegal. There may be a valid reason was someone was in possession of the controlled substance, for example, a person holding a valid prescription from their doctor. The defense may center around improper police procedure, like entrapment or even illegal search and seizure.
One of the first questions many clients will ask is “What happens if I am found guilty?” There is a wide range of penalties that can be imposed based on Florida State Law, and the severity of the penalty depends on the type of drug the defendant was alleged to have possessed, how much there was of the drug, and the degree of the misdemeanor or felony. For example, a second degree misdemeanor may carry a jail confinement of 60 days, while a second degree felony carries a maximum confinement of up to fifteen years and a large fine. In addition, Florida state laws REQUIRE that the sentence be increased if the accused has a criminal history of violence, or if the accused can be considered a career criminal or habitual felon.
When your freedom is at stake, you want someone on your side who is experienced, professional and aggressive. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, you need Defense Attorney Joe Knape on your side. Call now to schedule a free consultation and speak personally with Joe. The number to reach him is 850-CALL-JOE (850) 225-5563.