“A mandatory sentence is a court decision setting where judicial discretion is limited by law” (California Penal Code Sections 667(e) (2) (A) (ii)). In most cases, persons who have been found guilty of certain types of crimes are subject to minimum time in prison. In this approach, mandatory sentence varies form one country to another as situation brought about by the difference in judicial setting. Mandatory sentence of common interest particularly in the common law going by the fact that civil law mainly prescribes either maximum or minimum sentence for any type of crime that falls under its jurisdiction. In the U.S. the jury is not allowed to know the outcome of the prescription of justice lets say maximum or minimum sentence going by the fact that the jury is mandated to determine guilt or innocence of an individual. However, an emerging trend in the justice system is that lawyers nowadays have a way of relaying such information to the jury such as the cross-examination of an individual who had previously faced similar charges.
Mandatory sentencing in the U.S. was enacted in 1952 by the U.S. congress in the wake of the passing of the Narcotics Control Act. The Narcotics Control Act stated for the first time that a person was liable to between two to ten years of imprisonments if found in possession of cannabis. However with the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, Congress decided to enact a different set of laws with respect to minimum sentence of drug holders.
Across all the states in the U.S. federal courts are guided by a Federal Sentencing Guidelines. This guideline dictates that when a guideline sentencing range is less than the statutory mandatory minimum, the latter prevails (California Penal Code Section 669). In addition, a prosecutor is of great influence on any given case and the acceptance of the plea or rejection may as well affect the outcome of the case. As stated by the law, previous offenders with drug felonies are often subjected to harsh and strict mandatory minimums. However, the prosecutor may on his discretion fail to file for prior felony information. This implies that in an occurrence that the prosecutor does not file for prior felony information, a minimum mandatory will therefore be applied.
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Particularly in California, some very interesting scenario has been observed where the states does not exempt small crimes such as shoplifting and similar crimes but punishes such crimes as felony petty theft. This is in the occurrence that the person committing the crime has a prior crime record or has served in jail for a similar offence. In this context, some defendants have been given up to 25 years of imprisonment as a result of petty crimes such as this. Some of the most significant cases form this scenario include the Gary Ewing who had a past criminal record for burglary and armed robbery. “Jerry Dewayne Williams also received 15yuears of imprisonment after a violent assault on a group of children for a pepperoni pizza but William’s sentence was later reduced to six years” ("'Pizza thief' walks the line" Los Angeles Times).
In California, both the first and the second strike are counted as a result of individual charges as opposed to individual cases. TH9isis going by the fact that an individual may have been charged several times but all the charges arise form a single case. This implies that it is very possible for an individual to receive a third and a fourth strike all arising from the same case. These results to the court handing the defendant separate sentences that run consecutively. Going by all the said factors, the three strike rule has received criticism not only in the U.S. but globally. Within the state of California, most criticism has come from the Families to Amend California's Three Strikes (FACTS). However on a rather different approach, the state argues that the three strikes method is in place to reverse life sentences imposed for non-violent, minor felonies.
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