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Court Discusses Indeterminate Sentencing


In New York, prior to January 13, 2005, it was common for people convicted of Class B felony drug crimes to be incarcerated with indeterminate sentences. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the trend at the time was to be tough on drug offenders by putting them in prison with no expectation of a final release date. In January of 2005, new trends and research into the problems presented by indeterminate sentences, caused New York lawmakers to rethink their policy. Class B felony drug crime offenders stopped getting indeterminate sentences. Since, the prisons were overrun with Class B felony drug crime offenders who had indeterminate sentences, CPL 440.46 was created to alleviate the problem. It states that any person who has been convicted of a Class B felony drug crime under article 220 of the Penal Law that was committed before January 13, 2005 might be eligible for resentencing under the new sentencing guidelines that did not include indeterminate sentences. They must have a maximum of more than three years to be eligible. The intent originally was to reduce the number of drug offenders on the streets. The problem with indeterminate sentences is that offenders behave worse when they do not have the hope of a definite end. The large number of drug offenders that were incarcerated was putting a strain on the system and taking space that was needed to house violent offenders. Sometimes, political notions of how to combat crime cause more problems than they solve. Indeterminate sentencing was one of those notions. The sentences were so severe that they were out of sync with the rest of the sentencing guidelines for other offences. Often, drug offenders received harsher sentences than violent offenders. There were other problems with the idea of indeterminate sentences that must be addressed by the New York legal system. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said one way is to go back through all of the cases where offenders are facing more than three years of an indeterminate sentence, and allow them to apply for resentencing under the new guidelines. In most cases, approval for resentencing means release into a drug treatment program and probation. There are exceptions to these resentencing guidelines. If a person was convicted in the ten years preceding this conviction with any violent felony offense described in section 70.02 of the penal law or any offense for which a merit time allowance is not available, then they are not eligible for resentencing under the new guidelines.

This ten-year period is figured from the date of the person’s resentencing motion and not from the date that he committed the present drug crime. A New York Criminal Lawyer said in one case, a man applied for resentencing under the new guidelines in October 2009. He had been convicted in March of 1984 for manslaughter in the first degree. Manslaughter in the first degree is a class B violent felony, which would otherwise make him ineligible for resentencing. He was also convicted in July of 1995 with manslaughter in the second degree which is an offense in which merit time allowance is not allowed. However, because both of these convictions occurred prior to the ten-year period from 2009, they do not disqualify him from resentencing pursuant to CPL 440.46. Under the ten-year look back policy, this offender’s history before 1999 cannot be considered in order to disqualify him from obtaining resentencing to remove his indeterminate sentence. Additionally, he was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence that would last more than three years which does qualify him for resentencing under the new guidelines. This matter was remitted back to Queens County Supreme Court for new proceedings and a new determination of the motion. This means that the inmate will qualify for resentencing that will put his sentence in line with the sentences that drug crime offenders are presently getting.

A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said there are mixed arguments about resentencing drug offenders, but there is simply not enough room in the prisons to house everyone who has been convicted of a drug offense. It is important that the people who have been arrested for drug offenses, and given indeterminate sentences, contact a Queens Drug Lawyer. A Queens Criminal Lawyer can represent your interests and help you regain your freedom.

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