Low-Level Drug Offenders Now Less Likely to Get Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Charges that bring the most severe sentencing are now being reserved for more serious drug offenders, according to an announcement made by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. made last month. The announcement was described in a Washington Post article. Attorney General Holder stated in a speech in San Francisco before the American Bar Association that lower-level, drug offenders will no longer be charged with crimes that lead to mandatory minimum prison sentences. Lower-level drug offenders include nonviolent drug offenders who do not have affiliations to large-scale drug organizations or gangs. Instead, these harsher charges will be reserved for the most serious of drug cases, including those that involve violent offenders who are involved in drug trafficking.

To get the process started, Attorney General has assigned his U.S. attorneys to create specific guidelines that will help make the new change a reality. He requested locally tailored guidelines that can be used to determine when drug charges should and should not be filed at the federal level. Furthermore, U.S. attorneys are getting new instructions on how to write criminal complaints for lower-level drug cases so that that mandatory minimum sentencing is not triggered. Furthermore, Mr. Holder announced a new policy that would allow nonviolent criminals to qualify for alternatives to prison, and that would lower sentences for nonviolent, elderly inmates. Overly harsh school policies that cause too many juveniles to enter the criminal justice system will also be a new area of focus.

The diversion of mandatory minimum sentences away from lower-level drug offenders is part of a larger prison reform package that the Attorney General is working toward. In his speech to the American Bar Association, Mr. Holder called the criminal justice system broken and stated that there are many parts of the system that actually worsen problems rather than fix them.

These changes that were announced by Attorney General Holder have an important impact on the public. They give more people the chance to avoid overly harsh sentencing, and they open the door for certain drug offenders to obtain rehabilitation rather than long prison terms that may just end up further perpetuating the cycle of crime.

At Herman Law, P.A., our West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney handles various types of drug crimes, as well as many other types of criminal offenses. Attorney Ron D. Herman, who has more than 10 years of experience, has handled more than 150 criminal trials. He is AV® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, which shows that the lawyer’s professional peers have given him the highest level of ratings for the areas of legal ability and ethical standards. Contact our firm so you can learn more about our legal services!