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Court Explains Sentencing Guidelines for Drug Crimes


New York is in the process of correcting a situation that involved handing out indeterminate sentences to drug offenders. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said the 2004 Drug Law Reform Act and the Drug Law Reform Act of 2009 are efforts to correct some of the issues that have plagued the fair sentencing of drug crime offenders in New York. Political agendas and ill-advised legislators, decided that indeterminate sentencing would reduce crime and make them look tough on criminals. What it created instead was an overcrowding of the prison system with offenders who had no idea if they would be incarcerated for a day or ten years. That instability in their situations caused undue stress on the inmates and increased violence in the system. The indeterminate sentencing system was also found to be unfair. Two people would be arrested at the same time and one would get probation and the other might get an indeterminate sentence not to exceed ten years. These were much harsher sentences than even some violent offenders were receiving. Studies were conducted that revealed many more serious results of indeterminate sentences on inmates and the system. In fact, one of the most memorable studies demonstrated that female inmates were twice as likely to be given an indeterminate sentence as their male counterparts were. That was true even if they were arrested at the same time for the same offense. The political get tough on drug crime agenda was back firing on the politicians who drove the movement. They were forced to rethink their program.

Under modern sentencing guidelines, a New York Drug Possession Lawyer said these same criminals were getting less prison time and more alternative sentences like house arrest, half-way houses, and mandatory drug treatment. All of which relieve overcrowding in the prison system while supervising non-violent drug offenders at their own expense. The Drug Law Reform Act enabled people who were convicted of a Class B felony drug crime to apply to the courts for resentencing of their indeterminate sentences. The requirements for the program are that they must have an indeterminate sentence exceeding three years. They must not have committed a violent felony offense within ten years of the time that they make the application to have their case reevaluated. The ten-year look back rule does not start at the time of their offense, or at the time of their conviction. The clock starts at the time that they submit their request. It does not include any time that they were incarcerated for other offenses during that ten-year period. So if an inmate applied for resentencing in 2010. A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said his sentence was indeterminate not to exceed 20 years. He was convicted in 2008 of a Class B felony drug crime. He committed a violent felony in 2000. He spent five years in prison as a result. That would mean that his violent felony conviction of 2008 adds five years to the ten years. In this example, he would not be exempt, even though his conviction was in 2000 and his request was in 2010, because of the five years in prison, he would have to have no violent crimes in his history going back to 1995. In this case, he would not qualify.

In one case, a Queens woman was convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, a jury found her guilty and imposed an indeterminate sentence in July of 2001. In April of 2010 she applied for resentencing. She was granted her request. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said the District Attorney filed an appeal to the Supreme Court based on the fact that the resentence was invalid as a matter of law. When the court granted the woman’s request for resentencing, they failed to add on the time that she had been incarcerated on other offenses during the ten year period. That additional time that was added on puts her back to a violent offense that she committed in 1999 which was an offense that excludes her from being eligible for resentencing. The Supreme Court reversed her approval and returned her original sentence that she was serving prior to her request.

It is important that the people who have been arrested for drug offenses contact a Queens Drug Lawyer. A Queens Criminal Lawyer can represent your interests and help you regain your freedom.

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