Sentencing: Unfair Effects Of Mandatory Guidelines Still Exist

Eight years ago, the United States Supreme Court struck down a set of mandatory sentencing guidelines that many legal experts consider to have been unfair and inappropriate. However, many defendants who received sentences before that decision are still serving prison terms under the guidelines.

This strikes many judges and other experts as unjust.

For example, one woman received a sentence for drug distribution after she sold several ounces of crack cocaine. At the time, the mandatory sentencing guidelines required her to serve 15 years in prison. The guidelines imposed this surprisingly heavy penalty because the woman had a history of similar drug violations-those previous convictions tripled her sentence.

One federal judge told the New York Times: "There are a lot of people like [this woman] doing bone-crushing time under the old sentencing regime, and we need to try to find ways to help them."

While the sentencing guidelines are no longer mandatory, stories like these emphasize the importance of fighting even apparently minor charges. Any criminal record can come back to affect defendants in the future. An experienced Dallas criminal defense can help develop an effective strategy.

Source: The New York Times, "Long Prison Term Is Less So Thanks to Judge's Regrets," Ethan Bronner, Mar. 28, 2013 


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