HB 581 - Mandatory minimum sentencing repeal

HB 581 - Mandatory minimum sentencing repeal

by
Phil Haunschild
March 1, 2018

Bill description: HB 581 would eliminate the mandatory minimum sentences for convictions of trafficking in marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine/amphetamine or their precursors.

Rating: +3

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non- violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?

Idaho law currently has fixed minimum sentences for those convicted of trafficking in three different types of controlled substances. The determination of whether an individual was trafficking in a drug, rather than just in possession of or using, is made based on the total weight of the amount in possession. HB 581 would eliminate the mandatory minimum fixed sentences that come with a conviction of trafficking.

Because trafficking sentences are determined simplistically by weight and do not factor in other indicia of trafficking, distribution, or manufacture, these sentences can easily catch individuals who were not actually engaged in trafficking. Mere possession of a controlled substance is a victimless crime.

By repealing the existing mandatory minimums,, HB 581 would allow judges the discretion to consider various factors, not just the weight of substances, when determining a sentence for a person convicted of the crime.

The first mandatory minimum that would be eliminated is for marijuana. Currently, an individual convicted with at least one pound of marijuana or 25 plants in their possession, is guilty of a felony and subject to, at minimum, a:

  • One-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine if the amount was more than one pound but less than 5 pounds.
  • Three-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine if the amount more than 5 but less than 25 pounds.
  • Five-year prison sentence and a $15,000 fine if the amount was more than 25 pounds.

HB 581 would keep these guidelines in Idaho Code, but would allow judicial discretion in sentencing to go above or below these amounts for marijuana trafficking cases.

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HB 581 would also eliminate mandatory minimums for trafficking in cocaine. Under present law, an individual convicted of possessing more than 28 grams of cocaine or any material containing cocaine, is guilty of a felony and subject to, at minimum, a:

  • Three-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine if the amount was less than 200 grams
  • Five-year prison sentence and a $15,000 fine if the amount was more than 200 grams but less than 400 grams
  • Ten-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine if the amount was more than 400 grams

HB 581 would keep these guidelines in Idaho Code, but would allow judicial discretion in sentencing to go above or below these amounts for cocaine trafficking cases.

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The third mandatory minimum that HB 581 would eliminate is for methamphetamine, amphetamine, or their precursors. Currently, an individual convicted of possessing at least 28 grams of methamphetamine, amphetamine, or any material containing the same is guilty of a felony and subject to, at minimum a:

  • Three-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine if the amount was less than 200 grams
  • Five-year prison sentence and a $15,000 fine if the amount was more than 200 up to 400 grams
  • Ten-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine if the amount was more than 400 grams

For a conviction of the attempted manufacture methamphetamine or amphetamine they are guilty of a felony, and sentenced to at least two years in prison and fined at least $10,000. If an individual is convicted of the actual manufacture of methamphetamine or amphetamine they are guilty of a felony and sentenced to at least five years in prison and fined at least $25,000.

HB 581 would keep these guidelines in Idaho Code, but would allow judicial discretion in sentencing to go above or below these amounts for methamphetamine or amphetamine trafficking cases, or

HB 581 would keep these guidelines in Idaho Code, but would allow judicial discretion in sentencing for these cases that involve possession of large quantities of methamphetamine or amphetamine or their precursors potentially used for manufacture.

(+1)

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