There are many things about the criminal justice system in Georgia that people think about when they have been arrested and charged with a crime. With this in mind, one of the things that tends to surprise some defendants is that there are mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes, leading to far more time in prison than a person anticipated. What this means is that a judge or jury cannot sentence a person to less time than the established minimum, even if there are extenuating factors that might justify a more lenient sentence. In addition, the person must serve at least the minimum term before being eligible for parole. This uneven system of punishment means that some people are serving far more time in prison than other individuals who committed a much worse crime.
The issue of mandatory minimums have garnered a lot of attention lately. These sentence requirements exist on both the state and the federal level. For many years, the federal government had sentencing guidelines for many crimes and the judiciary’s hands were tied when it came to deviating from these guidelines. This has undergone recent change with regard to certain crimes, especially less serious drug offenses, but there now are sitting judges across the country who are entrenched in handing out severe sentences and the fact that they now have the discretion to deviate has not resulted in significantly reduced sentences.
Georgia Sentencing Considerations
In Georgia, there are mandatory minimums for many different types of drug charges, as well as specific violent crimes. Georgia has two basic ways of charging a crime – as a misdemeanor or a felony. This is different from many other states where there are classes of crimes under both of those classifications. Pursuant to Georgia law, a misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail (as opposed to the state prison system) or a fine of up to $1,000.00. There are circumstances where a defendant will be punished with a combination of jail, a fine, community service, restitution, and/or probation.
Felony crimes in state court are penalized based upon the nature of the crime. A defendant may face life in prison for a violent crime, down to one year in prison for a felony that is considered less serious. Certain crimes have established minimums, as discussed above, where the defendant must serve at least the minimum number of years in prison. Where the crime is a person who was convicted of trafficking cocaine because he got caught up with the wrong people when he was young and agreed to deliver 150 grams of cocaine just in time to get arrested, it may seem manifestly unfair that he must serve ten years in prison before being able to get out.
Going with a Strong Defense
When a person is arrested for any crime, it is critical that he retain tenacious and astute criminal defense attorneys who are going to be able to get the best results, whether this is a reduction of the charges to the point where there is no mandatory minimum or a complete dismissal of the charges. The worst thing that a person can do is attempt to negotiate with the prosecutor on his own because this is not a fight that a person can win if he is not familiar with the tactics and ploys of the prosecutor’s office.
The Abt Law Firm, LLC. Aggressively Advocates on Behalf of its Clients
There are many elements that go into a successful defense, but one of the most critical is understanding the full extent of what could happen if a defense strategy does not work. The Atlanta Criminal Defense Firm of the Abt Law Firm, LLC. has the experience and resolve to fight for the right outcome. If you do not want a criminal record, call us immediately at (678) 582-2272 and we can help. We offer free consultations at our office, over the telephone, and are ready to come to you in jail.