Learning the System Part I of II
In an effort to restrain judicial discretion, the legislature has created a number of mandatory minimum prison sentences upon conviction for certain felony offenses. Sex offenses, particularly against children, have a mandatory minimum period of confinement in prison of 25 years, 5 years, 3.5 years, and 3 years, depending on the conviction. There are mandatory minimum sentences for repeat serious violent crime offenders or repeat firearm offenders of 5 years or 4 years, depending on the conviction. For serious repeat intoxicated drivers, the mandatory minimum prison sentence is 3 years or 4 years, depending on the number of prior convictions. These mandatory minimum periods of incarceration in prison are not penalty enhancers, such as committing an offense with a dangerous weapon or against certain people or property. Although committing a crime with a gun or against an vulnerable person will subject the offender to increased penalties, it is still possible to receive probation and either no incarceration or minor incarceration at the local level with work release privileges from the judge at sentencing. However, with mandatory minimum sentences, the judge has no choice but to reject probation and impose at least the mandatory minimum period of incarceration in prison, even if the judge does not agree a prison sentence is warranted.