One of the first things that defendants want to know after being charged with a crime is the possible penalties that they will face if convicted. Because of this, every defendant in the state of Colorado should know about mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
The Role of the Judge
If a defendant is convicted of a crime, he will go to the sentencing phase of his trial. In most cases, the judge presiding over the case will reference the sentencing guidelines when deciding how to punish the defendant. Sentencing guidelines offer judges suggestions on how to sentence defendants that are convicted of certain crimes. For example, the DUI sentencing guidelines state that a first-time offender should receive between 5 days to 1 year behind bars, up to 2 years of probation, and a fine between $600-$1,000.
A judge would reference these guidelines when deciding how to sentence a first time DUI offender. If this is the first time the defendant has been arrested and he has shown remorse for the crime, the judge may decide to let him off with a few months of probation and the minimum fine. Sometimes, the judge even gives the defendant a lighter sentence than what is recommended in the guidelines.
How Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws Affect Your Case
Judges do not have as much power when mandatory minimum sentencing laws apply to your case. If a crime has a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must comply with this law. For example, let’s say a defendant is convicted of DUI for the second time in five years. The law states that defendants with two DUI convictions on their records must spend a minimum of 10 days in jail. This means the judge has no choice but to sentence this defendant to at least 10 days in jail—even if he believes that the defendant deserves a lighter sentence.
Which Laws Have Mandatory Minimum Sentences?
There are many state and federal laws with mandatory minimum sentences, but these sentences most often affect repeat offenders. Colorado’s habitual offender law imposes mandatory minimum sentences on anyone who has repeated multiple felonies. For example, a defendant who has four felony convictions on his record and is convicted of a violent felony will face a mandatory life sentence without parole for at least 40 years. Of course, not all mandatory minimum sentences are this extreme.
If you have been charged a crime, seek legal representation from a criminal defense attorney at once. The criminal defense attorneys at Reisch Law Firm will work tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome in your case. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.