Judges Speak Out On The Problems Of Mandatory Sentencing

Posted by Christopher Shumate | Dec 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Many experienced in the Federal criminal justice system, including some judges, are noting various problems stemming from the mandatory sentencing structures utlized. Prosecutors have significant discretion in the criminal cases as they determine what charges to seek, what plea offers to present / agree to, etc. Some Federal Judges are apparently of the opinion they are a mere formality in the criminal justice system, as they are now left with so little discretion in their rulings. Some would argue the limited discretion results in consistent rulings from the bench. Others point out that the current approach results in some absurd results. I recognize the arguments on both sides. As a Charlotte criminal defense attorney, I also believe there are some parallels to this situation in the State criminal justice system.

This issue is most recognized with relatively minor criminals when the prosecutor seeks the minimum sentence under the guidelines. The mandatory minimum sentences are often imposed in cases involving minor drug offenders. Misguided legislators attempted to combat drug-related issues in the mid-80s by imposing a law that required ten year sentences for drug kingpins and five year sentences for midlevel dealers. Although this appears to be soundly structured, in reality, Prosecutors are left with significant discretion in determining which category the Defendant resides. Given this significant latitude in defining the Defendant's category, a seemingly minor offender can be considered a king pin. I won't even bring up the issue here again of Prosecutor misconduct, which has repeatedly reared its ugly head in North Carolina all too often in recent years. According to the United State Sentencing Commission, 74 percent of Defendants who faced a crack cocaine related offense in the past year were sentenced to the mandatory minimum, but only 5 percent managed a drug business.

About the Author

Christopher Shumate

Mr. Chris Shumate is a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, and worked various jobs while pursuing his undergraduate and Juris Doctor education, including several heavy manual labor and skilled trade positions. In his practice, Mr. Shumate often encounters circumstances where these prior experiences are helpful in representing you. Upon graduating law school from the University of South Carolina, Mr. Shumate joined one of the Carolinas' larger defense firms, where he represented a diverse set of employers and insurance companies in civil cases and workers' compensation claims across the Carolinas. Chris utilized this experience to obtain a working knowledge of the insurance industry, and build personal contacts used today in representing you. Mr. Shumate ultimately decided he wanted to focus his law practice on assisting those who have been injured, and doing so with the focus on a personal relationship that is uncommon in the bigger firms. Mr. Shumate's also has a passion for assisting those facing the challenges of the criminal legal system. By representing individuals in a variety of criminal and traffic matters, Mr. Shumate works to achieve the best possible result for each client regardless of the charges levied by the prosecution. Chris has tirelessly pursued his mission of helping people from all walks of life throughout the Carolinas with a variety of legal matters. If you are interested in learning more about Chris Shumate and The Shumate Law Offices, please contact us at 704.371.5059. We look forward to assisting you to achieve a positive result in your legal concern. Education J.D., University of South Carolina B.S., University of South Carolina Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice N.C. State BarS.C. State BarU.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina Professional & Bar Association Memberships N.C. Bar Association S.C. Bar Association Mecklenburg County Bar N.C. Academy Of Trial Lawyers American Association For Justice


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