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Federal minimum criminal penalties

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2023 | blog, Federal Crime

It is no secret that the federal government prosecutes and penalizes crimes stringently. Specifically, federal convictions often have high mandatory minimum penalties.

Many states, including California, also have some minimum sentencing. However, states also sometimes offer a wider range of options: reducing sentences significantly or allowing convicts to not serve the entire sentenced term in prison, for example.

Sentencing explained

Sentencing guidelines and mandates are an important part of the justice system. They show how serious the courts believe a certain crime is.

Depending on the crime, the law might recommend or require that a judge order a specific type of penalty. The judge then orders the penalty at the end of the criminal procedure.

There are also sometimes ways to change a penalty in federal court. This type of sentencing relief could potentially reduce jail time, for example.

Federal minimums at a glance

A significant minority, about 30%, of all recent federal cases carried a mandatory minimum sentence. However, of these cases, slightly over 75% were drug crimes. Drug crimes also had a lower-than-average rate of sentencing relief. Nearly half of all drug offenders remained subject to the mandatory minimum upon sentencing.

Sex offenders faced an even more stringent application of the mandatory minimum. About 95% were subject to full penalties. Similarly, 76% of identity-theft offenders were subject to the mandatory minimum.

In addition to carrying strict penalties, charges in federal court are often challenging to defend. Especially in terms of white-collar and internet crime, the prosecution typically has a large amount of high-quality evidence to support its case.