A federal judge in Maryland recently sentenced a 47-year-old man to life without parole for trafficking heroin to Maryland from New York. The judge described the sentence as extremely severe and harsh but stated she had no choice because the prosecutors choose to seek the mandatory minimum sentence based on the man’s previous convictions and the amount of drugs he was in possession of.
This sentence comes shortly after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that his agency would try to avoid seeking these mandatory minimum sentences in some drug cases. However, the federal prosecutors in this case believed the sentence was appropriate and that Holder’s decision only applied to how new cases would be charged. An assistant U.S. attorney described the defendant as a classic drug-dealing recidivist.
The man brought large quantities of heroin from New York to Baltimore between 2009 and 2011, according to the prosecutor’s evidence. The man was previously convicted of federal heroin charges in 1993 and on state drug charges in 2004. Federal sentencing rules state that any person with two previous convictions who have dealt more than 1 kilogram of heroin are subject to a mandatory life sentence in prison.
The man in this story said he just wanted to get home to his family, including a 4-year-old daughter. The recent announcement by Holder may help some people avoid the harsh punishment given to this man. However, anyone facing drug charges will be confronted with the possibility of spending time behind bars. Those facing drug charges should be fully aware of their legal rights and have an understanding of all their options. An attorney may be able to help someone facing drug charges better negotiate a plea bargain or better defend themselves at trial.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Heroin dealer gets mandatory term of life without parole“, Ian Duncan, August 27, 2013