If you’re facing criminal charges, then your primary concern is probably the potential penalties that you’re facing. There’s good reason for that concern, too. After all, depending on the criminal charges that you’re up against, you could be hit with extensive jail or prison time along with massive fines and other penalties that have short- and long-term ramifications.
Understanding these penalties can be key to your criminal defense, too, because there’s a strong chance that you’re going to be extended a plea deal at one time or another. But as you consider the charges levied against you, you should realize that many criminal charges carry mandatory minimum sentences upon conviction, which could affect how you develop your criminal defense.
Which crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences?
There are a number of criminal offenses in Massachusetts that carry a mandatory minimum sentence, meaning that you can’t be sentenced to anything less than that minimum specified by law. Each of the following crimes are subjected to mandatory minimum sentences:
- Drug-related offenses: Not all drug distribution convictions result in a mandatory minimum sentence, but a second offense involving more serious drugs like heroin will. Here, the minimum amount of incarceration that you’d face upon conviction is 3.5 years. Drug trafficking crimes almost always carry a mandatory minimum sentence, but it depends on the drug that is involved. For example, distributing any amount of fentanyl in excess of 10 grams will result in 3.5 years behind bars, but a conviction for trafficking 10 grams of cocaine does not result in a mandatory minimum sentence. Some offenses here carry significant minimum penalties, too, such as those involving trafficking 200 or more grams of a drug like methamphetamine, cocaine, or heroin. Here, a convicted individual would be dealt at least 12 years in prison.
- Firearm offenses: Many crimes involving firearms also require mandatory minimum sentences. Possessing a firearm without a license can leave you with at least 18 months of incarceration, while some subsequent offenses for a felon illegally carrying a gun can result in 10 to 25 years in prison at a minimum.Violent crimes: The law takes violent crimes seriously, which is why many of them come with significant mandatory minimum sentences upon conviction. This includes murder, of course, but it also includes rape, assault and battery on a minor or a police officer, and even stalking.
- Other offenses: There are other miscellaneous offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences, too. This includes some OUI offenses that result in serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of personal injury or death, and even maintaining a house of prostitution. There are other crimes that fall into this category, so make sure that you understand the potential penalties you could face if you’re found guilty of the charges levied against you.
Know how to protect yourself in your case
As you can see, there can be a lot at stake in your criminal case. That’s why you need to do everything you can to protect yourself. You can start by educating yourself on the crime that you’ve been accused of committing. Learn what legal elements the prosecution has to prove and what penalties you could be facing upon conviction.
Once armed with this knowledge, you can work on developing the strong legal arguments that you need to either negotiate a favorable plea deal that includes lesser charges and lighter penalties or fight the charges in court in hopes of obtaining an acquittal. To learn more about how best to approach your situation, you may want to discuss the circumstances of your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.