House Bill 99 — Mandatory minimum sentences

House Bill 99 — Mandatory minimum sentences

by
Phil Haunschild
February 11, 2019

Bill description: HB 99 would eliminate the mandatory minimum sentences for convictions for 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 specific controlled substances. (Whether a person is trafficking in a drug, rather than just possessing it, is determined under law by the weight of the drug in the person’s possession.) HB 99 would eliminate the mandatory fixed-minimum sentences that come with a conviction of trafficking.

Because trafficking sentences are determined simplistically by weight and do not factor in other indicators of trafficking, distribution, or manufacture, these sentences can easily be imposed on individuals who were not actually engaged in trafficking. This is unjust, for mere possession of a controlled substance is a victimless crime.

By repealing the existing mandatory minimums, HB 99 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 of having 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 was 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 99 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.

(+1)

HB 99 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 99 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.

(+1)

The third mandatory minimum that HB 99 would eliminate is for methamphetamine, amphetamine, or their precursors. Currently, an individual convicted of possessing at least 28 grams of methamphetamine, amphetamine, or material containing either 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 but less than 400 grams.
  • Ten-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine if the amount was more than 400 grams.

An individual who is convicted of the attempted manufacture methamphetamine or amphetamine is guilty of a felony and sentenced to at least two years in prison and fined at least $10,000. An individual who is convicted of the actual manufacture of methamphetamine or amphetamine is guilty of a felony and sentenced to at least five years in prison and fined at least $25,000.

HB 99 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.

(+1)

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