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Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.
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Drug sentences anticipated to be harsher under new administration

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has a record of being tough on drug crimes as an Alabama prosecutor years ago, is expected to roll back a number of Obama administration Department of Justice policies.

Sessions criticized that administration and its attorneys general for being soft on crime. Under President Obama, the number of people in federal prisons dropped from what it had been under President George Bush and his predecessors.

A significant change that's anticipated under Sessions' control of the DOJ is sentencing. Under former Attorney General Eric Holder, federal prosecutors were told to use their own discretion in the charges they filed against defendants — especially when a charge could carry a mandatory minimum sentence.

Holder once said, "Equal justice depends on individualized justice." He advocated reserving mandatory minimums for "serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers."

Sessions said earlier this year that there is "strong evidence that aggressive prosecutions of federal laws can be effective in combating crime" and that "these prosecutions can help save lives."

A DOJ spokesman has said that the agency is are reviewing all Department of Justice policies to focus on keeping Americans safe and will be issuing further guidance and support to our prosecutors executing this priority -- including an updated memorandum on charging for all criminal cases."

One law professor points out, however, that no matter what edicts come down from the attorney general and the DOJ, charging decisions are still made by individual prosecutors., giving them "a lot of discretion."

Any drug charge should be taken seriously. Florida has more than its fair share of drug crimes, so law enforcement officials and prosecutors face pressure to change this. If you or a loved one is facing drug charges, an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney can provide guidance and advice throughout the criminal justice process.

Source: The New York Times, "Sessions to Toughen Rules on Prosecuting Drug Crimes," Rebecca R. Ruiz, May 09, 2017

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