Supreme Court Limits Mandatory Minimums (Sort Of)

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Criminal Law on Thursday, June 20, 2013

One aspect of criminal law that seems to attract far less attention than it deserves is the link between the statutory definition of a crime and the statutory penalty. Because we believe no two crimes and criminals alike, we give judges discretion to sentence within a range of punishment. And states have freedom to structure their penalty ranges in a variety of ways, some very narrow, some very broad.

Over the last fifteen years, the Supreme Court has put some significant constitutional limits on how judges can impose punishment within a given range. One of the most extensive sentencing schemes is the federal Sentencing Guidelines, …