As someone who may be facing a charge or conviction for drug offenses, you may be interested to know that the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission has decided to back shorter sentences for those who are convicted for lesser drug charges. Since these are new changes coming into effect, your attorney may need to discuss your case specifically with the court to make sure you get all the benefits from lighter sentencing guidelines.
One of the measures that's been approved will cut the guidelines for prison sentences close to in half for first-degree drug possession. That means that if you were going to face 10 years, now that could be lowered to five or six. Second-degree offenders may also benefit from a four-year probation stint instead of a four-year prison sentence.
Where are these new, lighter penalties coming from? The panel had been discussing the fact that the laws in the state are currently too harsh. Lower-level offenders, specifically users of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, were ending up with sentences that should have been used for those found to be major drug dealers.
It's not just Minnesota that has changes on the horizon. Many states in the U.S. are reviewing their drug charges and sentencing guidelines to make sure those who are low-level offenders are not ending up in long-term prison sentences at the same level as repeat offenders. The lowering of sentence guidelines could also help free up to 700 beds in the prisons, not only keeping people out and getting them a chance for help, but also saving the government money and time.
Source: TwinCities.com, "Minnesota commission backs shorter sentences for lesser drug offenses," accessed Dec. 10, 2015