Certain offenses in New York have mandatory minimum sentences. In other words, the law requires judges to impose an imprisonment term of at least a predefined time if the defendant is convicted of these crimes. Half of those in the state’s prisons are serving mandatory minimum sentences.
Yet critics argue that these harsh sentencing laws do not work to reduce crime or change behavior and instead do untold damage to those convicted as well as their families and society as a whole. They also result in a vastly disproportionate amount of Blacks and Latinos being incarcerated.
Understanding the legal landscape around mandatory minimum sentences is essential for defendants, as it can help them make crucial decisions. Here is what you need to know.
Crimes that have mandatory minimum sentences
Many non-violent offenses and misdemeanors allow judges a degree of discretion in determining a suitable punishment considering the specific circumstances of each case.
However, it is different for serious offenses in New York. They include certain crimes related to:
- Violent crimes
- Drug offenses
- Firearm possession
- Sex crimes, among others.
As mentioned, judges have no wiggle room regarding mandatory minimum sentences, even when they feel there is a better alternative. They have to follow the law if a conviction warrants a minimum imprisonment term. Therefore, it helps to understand your legal options if you face such charges.
Defense strategies may involve challenging the prosecution’s evidence and case, negotiating plea agreements or seeking alternative sentencing options. Reaching out for qualified legal guidance for an informed evaluation of your options will help ensure you take the right path that will protect your rights and interests.