When an individual is accused of a crime, state laws usually controls the charges and potential penalties. However, federal laws can also come into play, and they can involve stiffer penalties. This can be the case for drug crimes, where federal laws often carry mandatory minimum penalties.
In order to crack down on drug trafficking, the federal government has issued mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug charges. Critics say these guidelines lead to unfairly harsh penalties for many defendants and have done little or nothing to reduce the illegal drug trade in the nation.
In order to address some of these concerns about the sentencing laws, some members of congress introduced a bill to reform the system. Known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, the measure would give courts more freedom to order prison sentences and other penalties that fall short of the minimums. The changes would be most pronounced for non-violent and first-time offenders. However, the measure would also retroactively reduce the mandatory minimum sentence for a third offense from life without parole to 25 years. The sentence for second-time offenders would drop from 20 years to 15 years.
While this bill offers some hope of reform in the federal drug crime sentencing system, many defendants still face severe penalties, even for relatively minor drug crimes. It’s crucial that those who are facing these charges have the help of skilled defense attorneys. If you are facing drug charges, it’s important to discuss your case with a lawyer who can explain your legal options and help you build a defense strategy that will protect you and your future.