Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws

Federal drug trafficking cases are generally subject to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. A mandatory sentence is when the court is in a situation where judicial discretion is limited by law. Meaning, if you are found guilty of a crime, the judge must give you a certain minimum sentence regardless of whether he or she thinks that sentence is appropriate given the nature and circumstances of that crime. When it comes to drug trafficking cases, there are many federal minimum sentencing laws in place that have been passed by congress.

Generally speaking, a jury is not allowed to be told whether the case they are deciding on is subject to mandatory sentencing because it may sway their opinion if they think the punishment does not fit the crime. Instead, in a mandatory sentencing case, a jury’s role is limited only to determining guilt or innocence.

In many cases, mandatory minimum sentencing laws can lead to harsh penalties for individuals found guilty of drug trafficking. This may occur because the lack of judicial discretion means that, regardless of the unique nature of the individual’s case, a standard minimum sentence must be imposed. As a result, individuals who face federal drug trafficking charges face very high stakes. Some of the minimum sentences for drug trafficking are as follows:

If the crime involves any of the following:

  • 1 kg+ heroin
  • 5 kg+ cocaine
  • 280 g+ crack
  • 100 g+ PCP (pure) or 1 kg+ PCP (mixture)
  • 10 g+ LSD
  • 1,000 kg+ marijuana or 1,000+ marijuana plants
  • 50 g+ meth (pure) or 500 g+ meth (mixture)

Then, a first time offender who is found guilty of manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute but causes no death or serious bodily injury can face up to 10 years in prison. The minimum sentence is raised to 20 years in prison if death or serious bodily injury is involved. Second and third time offenders can face life in prison.

Drug trafficking is a very serious crime. In many ways, one’s entire life may depend on a guilty or innocent verdict. That’s why you may want the best federal drug trafficking lawyer you can find by your side. David M. Dudley is an experienced, Harvard educated, federal drug trafficking defense attorney who is ready to help you. It is sometimes possible to for an experienced attorney like David M. Dudley to negotiate around mandatory minimum sentences through bargaining and other mechanisms. Call 800-805-6167 right now for a free case evaluation.