Deborah’s Experience on Drug Cases
St. Paul, MN criminal defense attorney Deborah Ellis talks about her experience in drug cases.
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Well, I mean since I started practicing then they’ve become mandatory minimums. I would say a third of my practice is federal court practice and often those are drug cases and the government will charge them. In federal court often they charge out multiple defendants. I mean if you have one small by it might be in state court, if they catch someone with a small amount you’ll be in state court. But in federal court, they charge drug conspiracies and anyone who is involved from the supplier on down to just the small time seller gets charged in that.
But the sad thing is, I think, is that in both state and federal court they’ve enacted mandatory minimums for certain offenses. And in federal court, you can be a first time person charged with drugs if you’re convicted and be facing five years or 10 years mandatory minimum. And people don’t understand that. Parents will come in with their child and say but he’s never been in trouble before why can’t he just get probation and it’s like congress said it’s a mandatory minimum of 10 and on 10 years they’re going to do eight and a half in custody. And those I think are very draconian sentences. There are ways to get under the mandatory minimums but for some people they are pretty hard and fast.