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Press Release

When Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Goes Wrong in Maryland

At sentencing, the judge indicated that he believed the defendant, yet because of mandatory minimum sentencing, he was obligated to sentence him to serve time behind bars anyway.
BALTIMORE, MD, June 13, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A 45-year-old tow truck operator, searching for adult pornography on the Internet, claimed to have accidentally stumbled on a site linked to child pornography. The man then made a big mistake: he unintentionally downloaded 25 images of child pornography onto his home computer.
This came back to haunt him after the police used a software program to locate and identify computers that shared child pornography.
The judge in his case indicated that he believed the defendant, yet because of mandatory minimum sentencing, he was obligated to sentence him to serve time behind bars anyway.
Judge's Hands Were Tied
At sentencing, the judge said he had no choice, because the law governing sentencing for the child pornography offense specified a mandatory minimum, with no provision to deviate.
In other words, the judge couldn't use his discretion to make the punishment fit the crime. He was unable, therefore, to take into account the man's lack of criminal history and lack of evidence that he'd actually searched for child pornography on his computer.
Observing that this case showed how easy it can be to commit an Internet-related crime, the judge stated that he believed the sentence was unfit, and if he had a choice he would not send him to jail. (Unfortunately, along with jail, the man will face 18 months of probation, be required to submit a DNA sample for the database, and might even face Maryland sex offender registration, depending on the circumstances.)
Maryland's Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws
Despite vocal opposition by advocates who share the judge's concerns, Maryland lawmakers have made little effort to do away with mandatory minimum sentencing for certain criminal offenses.
While mandatory minimum sentencing is supposed to deter crime, it's actually been very costly for the state, based on a report by the Justice Policy Institute. Moreover, it has not proven to be especially effective, such as in drug cases.
Judges should wield the benefit of their wisdom and experience in figuring out how best to sentence someone who has been convicted of a crime. But, in some cases, because of mandatory minimum sentencing, they don't.
That's just one more reason why an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in Maryland is crucial for defendants facing serious charges.
The criminal defense attorneys in Maryland at The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC defend clients against all types of crimes, from misdemeanors like shoplifting, to felonies like drug distribution and sex offenses. Their firm also represents clients in Baltimore divorce and personal injury cases. People in Maryland have relied on the Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC since 1992. To contact James Crawford, Esq. or a member of his legal team, call 866-635-0623, or visit http://www.crawforddefenseattorney.com/ for more information about his criminal law practice.
Current Web properties by The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC to help you with your specific legal issue:
Criminal Defense: http://www.crawforddefenseattorney.com
Criminal Defense Blog: http://www.baltimorecriminallawblog.com
Family Law: http://www.crawforddomesticmd.com
Personal Injury: http://www.mymarylandinjurylawyer.com
Former Web sites by The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC:
http://www.jamescrawfordlaw.com
http://defense-lawyer-baltimore-maryland-criminal-law-attorney-md.com/
Locations:
The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC
1435 Sulphur Spring Road
Baltimore, MD 21227
Phone: 443-701-4525
The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC
802 Ingleside Ave
Catonsville, MD 21228
Phone: 443-701-4525
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