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Mandatory minimum sentences in Louisiana

While marijuana is now able to be used legally for medicinal purposes in some states, being charged with possession of marijuana is not as minor as many people may think. Because the state of Louisiana has mandatory minimum sentences, even a first-time offender can face years in prison depending on the amount of marijuana in his or her possession.

If you are found in possession of 60 pounds or more of marijuana, it is classified as a felony drug possession offense, and the mandatory minimum sentence starts at five years in prison. Those possessing 2,000 to 10,000 pounds of marijuana are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and the minimum sentence for more than 10,000 pounds is 25 years.

Charges of distributing marijuana also carry mandatory minimum sentences, no matter the amount of the substance. The mandatory minimum for a first-time offender is five years in prison. A conviction of a second distribution or trafficking offense will get the defendant a mandatory 10 years in prison, although it can also be as many as 60 years.

The most important thing to understand about mandatory minimum sentences is that the judge has no choice in the matter. A conviction means that the person must spend at least that amount of time in prison, although a longer sentence can be imposed.

Mandatory minimums are only applicable to cases of conviction, however, and there are a variety of criminal defense options that can be used to attempt to avoid a drug conviction. If you have questions about what the mandatory minimums are for your particular charges or are concerned about your defense options, the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be very helpful.

Source: NORML, "Louisiana Laws & Penalties" Dec. 20, 2014

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Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

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