The United States currently has the world's highest incarceration rate. One of the main contributors to this recognition is the country's mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and other nonviolent offenses. Mandatory minimum sentences are inflexible binding prison terms of a particular length for people convicted of a particular crime. Unfortunately, these sentences that were originally created as a "one-size-fits-all" solution for sentencing disparities are now coming up short of expectation. Recently, there has been a growing recognition that this approach has not worked for reasons of both fairness of the sentences and the expense of running federal prisons. As a result of this recognition, many people are trying to take action to fix this.
A conviction for drug distribution under the federal Controlled Substances Act can carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. "If death or serious bodily injury results from the use of such substance," however, the mandatory minimum sentence doubles to 20 years.
Edwin Aguilar-Ibarra pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a Hobbs Act robbery and the commission of a Hobbs Act robbery and was sentenced to 87-months. Prior to his sentencing, his defense counsel failed to make timely objections to the presentence investigation report. As a result, Aguilar-Ibarra was given a two-level bodily injury enhancement. Aguilar-Ibarra appealed the sentence and challenged the district court's decision to apply the enhancement. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his sentence.
Mandatory minimum sentences were once created as a "one-size-fits-all" solution for sentencing disparities. However, these sentences have recently been recognized as coming up short of these expectations. This recognition arises from reasons such as the fairness of the sentences and the expense of running federal prisons. There have been a number of bills floated recently that attempt to reduce these sentences.
In the federal criminal justice system some 97 percent of all defendants plead guilty -- but are they, really? A recent study by Human Rights Watch certainly casts some doubt in federal drug cases.
In Shea v. State, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D2205b (Fla. 4th DCA 2013), Shea appealed the denial of a rule 3.800(a) motion to correct an illegal sentence, The Appellate Court reversed in part.
In Sprott v. State, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D2238a (Fla. 1st DCA 2013), Sprott pled guilty to count one: uttering a forged bill, count two: possession of forged notes, count three: attempted scheme to defraud, and count four: possession of a forged, stolen, or fictitious driver's license. The trial court adjudicated Sprott guilty on all four counts and sentenced him to 24 months in Florida State Prison. On appeal, however, the First DCA reversed the original sentence as excessive.
The Florida Supreme Court in Campbell v. State, 38 Fla. L. Weekly S727a (Fla. 2013) found that a defendant is not entitled to withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere following the rendition of a sentence, based solely on the trial court's failure to formally accept the plea as set forth in Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure.
In McComas v. State, the defendant was convicted of armed burglary of a dwelling, dealing in stolen property, grand theft (of several items), possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and grand theft of a firearm. 38 Fla. L. Weekly D2134b (Fla. 5th DCA 2013).
In Bell v. State, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D2105b (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013), Bell sought review of his convictions and sentences for felon in possession of a firearm and felon in possession of ammunition. Bell contended that the dual convictions violated double jeopardy.