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Court Decides Case Based on New Sentencing Guidelines


Prior to January 2005, indeterminate sentencing was considered the norm. It was originally designed as a means of tailoring the sentence to the crime. The belief was that since everyone is an individual, indeterminate sentences allowed a defendant the option of faster improvement. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said it was hoped that the indeterminate sentence would encourage defendants to demonstrate good behavior in an attempt to shorten their overall term of incarceration. The experiment was a dismal failure. Rather than encouraging good behavior, it instilled a feeling of helplessness in the inmate population. The sentences were sometimes completely different for persons involved in the same crime. The disparate sentences that some offenders received soon became regarded as a problem. The violence that some of these offenders demonstrated while incarcerated was also higher than the levels of violence demonstrated by offenders with definitive sentences. The hopelessness of having no way of knowing when the end of their sentences might arrive created an air of hostility and despair in the inmate population. By 2005, the trend of indeterminate sentencing had been recognized as a failure and sentencing reform laws were initiated to correct the problem.

These sentencing reform guidelines had several necessary provisions. They were designed to allow defendants who were charged with non-violent drug offenses to be given determinate sentences that were often much lower than their original indeterminate sentences were. The guidelines state that the person must be a non-violent offender and cannot have committed a violent offense within 10 years of the application for determinate sentencing.

In the present case, the defendant was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence and is attempting to be approved for resentencing under the Drug Law Reform Act to a determinate sentence of three and one half years as a second non-violent felony offender. The original date of his offence was August 26, 2003 and no final adjudication had been made at the time of his request. He states that the revised sentencing guidelines are an amendment of a failed method and because of that, he is entitled to be sentenced under these guidelines as opposed to sentencing under the old ones. His crime was committed prior to the enactment of the new statute.

The prosecutor’s office disagrees. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said they stated that the sentencing guidelines are only applicable to crimes that occurred after January 13, 2005 which is well after the August 2003 date of the defendant’s crimes. The prosecutor states that the new law specifically prohibits any kind of retroactive application to offenses that were committed prior to the enactment of the law.

Currently, the defendant is facing an indeterminate sentence of between four and one half and nine years and twelve and one half to twenty-five years. This is because he has a prior non-violent felony conviction. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said if this request is approved, he could be anticipating a reduction in the sentence to a mere three and one have years and twelve years. The new guidelines would reduce his sentence to only half of what he was originally sentenced.

The Supreme Court agreed with both parties in part. The law does specifically deny any retroactive sentencing based on the enactment date. However, even though the defendant’s crime was committed before the enactment of the law, his case is still actively pending in the court. That means that according to the view of the Supreme Court Justices, this case is still active after the date of the enactment of the new sentencing guidelines and the defendant is allowed to be sentenced under the new guidelines. The defendant’s motion to be sentenced under the new guidelines is approved by the court. A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said that often something as simple as a delay in a sentencing date can mean the difference of more than twenty years of time spent behind bars. A good attorney can help you if you find yourself in a situation like this one.

Stephen Bilkis & Associates has experienced Queens Criminal Lawyers. An experienced Criminal Attorney can make the difference in your case as well. They have convenient offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area. A Queens Drug lawyer can help you with your defense.

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