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New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Explains Mandatory Sentencing Laws in NJ

In New Jersey, there are mandatory sentencing laws that impose minimum sentences for specific crimes. Judges have no authority to shorten sentences even if there is evidence of extenuating circumstances.  The most common crimes with mandatory minimum sentences are drug offenses that can include drug possession.

Mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession in New Jersey apply when an individual possesses a certain amount of an illegal substance.  There is also typically a minimum sentence for repeat offenders.  If an individual is convicted of a third felony offense, sometimes referred to as the three strikes rule, a minimum sentence must be imposed.

Crimes That Are Not Subject to Minimum Sentences

State and federal guidelines offer suggested sentences for crimes that are not subject to minimum sentences. The guidelines are meant to recommend sentences that are proportional to the crime. After a guilty plea or a guilty verdict, a sentencing judge will hear evidence on the defendant’s behalf and may consider extenuating circumstances when deciding the punishment. The sentencing judge has the discretion to give a shorter or longer sentence than the suggested guidelines.

Various things the judge will take into consideration include if the law breaker was the principle offender or if they played a lesser role such as an accessory to the crime. A judge will also take into account whether or not the offender hurt someone or tried to avoid hurting someone. The mental state of the guilty party at the time of the crime is also considered at the time of sentencing.

Crimes That Impose Mandatory Minimum Sentences

A sentencing judge has much less discretion in deciding the punishment for crimes in which mandatory sentencing laws apply. Regardless of any mitigating circumstances, a judge cannot issue a reduced punishment.  In fact, the judge must ignore factors that may suggest a reason for leniency.  In these types of situations, judges have the flexibility to decree a harsher sentence if the circumstances surrounding the crime involve aggravating factors.

One example of a crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence is the possession of 100 grams of heroin. A person found guilty of this crime will be issued a mandatory five year prison sentence. Repeat offenders found guilty of a third felony may even be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Michele Finizio Is Experienced with NJ Sentencing Laws

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, it is critical to your future to consult a New Jersey criminal lawyer who is experienced in defending all types of criminal offenses in Cherry Hill, Camden County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, Mercer County, Ocean County and Salem County. The Law Offices of Michele Finizio offer you a criminal lawyer in Cherry Hill who is aggressive and will fight to ensure you have a proper defense. Call her offices today at 609-230-0374 or contact her online for a free consultation.

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I could not have asked for a better attorney. Michele Finizio treated my cases and the cases of those I've recommended, as if we were part of her family.

-D.A.