Are Mandatory Minimums Beneficial?

The theory behind mandatory minimums is great: People who are repeat offenders have not learned their lesson and should be in prison for a longer amount of time until they learn the necessary lessons. The intentions of the policy makers are good, but good intentions do not always make for the best policies.

Statistics show that mandatory minimums have had a reverse effect on society in some cases, such as in drug-related cases, so the pertinent question to ask is: Are mandatory minimums beneficial? If you have questions regarding your sentence or that of a loved one, call Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC today for a free consultation.

Mandatory Minimums

A mandatory sentencing is a court decision setting where judicial discretion is limited by law. Typically with mandatory minimum sentencing, people who are convicted of certain crimes must be punished with a minimum number of years in prison. A person who is subjected to mandatory minimums serve 5-10 years additional time in prison when they are convicted of certain crimes.

In 1994 California introduced a three strikes law, which was the first mandatory sentencing law to gain widespread publicity. This California law requires imprisonment for a minimum term of 25 years after a defendant is convicted of a third felony. However, some people argue that this takes up tax payers’ money that could be going towards building better schools for children, for example.

Mandatory Minimums for Drug Related Cases

Most common of these laws deals with drug offenses and sets mandatory minimum sentences for possession of a drug over a certain amount. Though punishments are supposed to be proportionate to the crime with the sentencing guidelines, they typically are not.

Whereas the judge previously had the discretion to consider any mitigating or aggravating circumstances, mandatory minimums take that discretion away from judges. Therefore, if one was to plead guilty to a crime as a subsequent offender, the judge is not permitted to impose a shorter sentence, however, judges are allowed to consider aggravating circumstances.

California’s NAACP argues that since mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses have been initiated, the United States prison population has exploded and that the new laws disproportionately affect certain people, mostly minorities, even though there is evidence that minorities and Caucasians use drugs at roughly the same rate.

They further argue that almost $2.8 billion that could be spent on prevention, interdiction, and fighting drug wars is being spent on housing small time drug offenders. Also, Families Against Mandatory Minimums state that since mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes have been instated, the federal prison population has grown from 24,000 prisoners to over 214,000 prisoners, all funded by tax payers. Statistics show that 39.4% of offenders who were subjected to a mandatory minimum sentence are low level drug offenders. One must ask, is it worth it?

Need Legal Advice?

Regardless of which position you stand for, it can be agreed that mandatory minimum sentencing affects the community as a whole. If you are a loved one has been subjected to mandatory minimum laws or three strike laws it is best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Diego to help strategize about the best possible outcomes for your case. Please feel free to contact us. We are here to help you fight for your rights.

Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC
1230 Columbia Street Suite 565
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 525-7005


Criminal Law