For some drug offenses, mandatory minimums come into play. These laws mean that judges do not have nearly as much power as they would have in other cases, but have to follow the minimums, no matter what they think is best. This can have a huge impact on a case. Below are two examples of how these minimums can lead to unexpected sentences.
First, there was a man with no record who took painkillers after being involved in an accident. In that accident, one of his eyes was lost. However, he decided to sell some of his pills, and he ended up selling them to an undercover officer. As a result, he was given a mandatory sentence that will put him behind bars for 25 years—until he is 72 years old.
In another case, a man did not even deal drugs himself, but just made introductions, helping one dealer meet another. The two then exchanged a large amount of drugs, and all parties were arrested. To get lighter sentences, some of them sold out others, but the man who did nothing but make the introduction was given a total of three life sentences. The amount of drugs that changed hands was so large that the judge had no choice but to go ahead with that ruling.
If you're facing drug charges in New Hampshire, it's important to know the difference between mandatory sentences and sentences that can be altered by a judge. As you can see, mandatory minimums sometimes mean sentences are far larger than expected, and you must know all of your legal options when you step into court.
Source: Think Progress, "Meet Five People Serving Draconian Drug Sentences Thanks To Mandatory Minimum Laws," Nicole Flatow, accessed Aug. 04, 2015