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Mandatory minimum sentences can be harsh and inflexible

Mandatory minimum sentences are a concept of the legal system that was meant to help provide more consistent sentencing for those convicted of certain crimes. In reality, mandatory minimum sentences seem to be placing punishments that don't really fit the crime that the person was convicted of participating in.

One of the main isuses with mandatory minimum sentences is that they aren't flexible. The court system can't alter the sentence to fit the crime. There isn't a way for the court to consider the circumstances of the case when a mandatory minimum sentence must be handed down upon conviction.

An example of a mandatory minimum sentence is a five-year minimum sentence on the first offense for carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime that is prosecuted on the federal level. If the firearm is brandished, that mandatory minimum increases to seven years. If the firearm is discharged, it is increased to a 10-year minimum. If the firearm is a machine gun or has a silencer, the mandatory minimum is 30 years.

Many of the mandatory minimum sentences that are used on a federal level are associated with drug crimes, sex-related crimes or weapon violations. Identity theft, immigration crimes and the infamous three-strikes offenses are also subjected to mandatory minimum sentences.

If you are facing criminal charges on a federal level, you should learn about how the mandatory minimum sentences might affect your case. This information might impact how you handle your defense, so you should explore your options carefully if you are facing mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for your charges.

Source: Families Against Mandatory Minimums, "Federal Mandatory Minimums," accessed Jan. 08, 2016

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