Persons convicted of drug crimes, whether felonies or misdemeanors, will face some forms of penalties. Defendants may deal with federal drug charges, but most drug crimes receive prosecution under state law. In recent years, criminal justice reform movements have sought to address excessive punishments for low-level drug crimes. Some lawmakers and district attorneys started to review sentencings, but approaches vary among the states. What happens in one state might have no bearing on decisions in Alabama. That said, it could be worthwhile to review national trends in drug crime sentencing.
Convictions and sentences for drug-related offenses
Not all drug crimes are the same. Trafficking is much different from possession, and then there are different levels of severity among the same crimes. Someone may possess a small volume of steroids without a prescription, while someone else may possess several bottles of testosterone. The latter may cast suspicions of possession with intent to distribute.
Again, state laws vary, but federal guidelines exist for sentencing. Whether state courts follow the sentencing guidelines is another matter. Statistics reveal Alabama courts only follow federal guidelines 38.53% of the time. Other states have higher percentiles, and some states maintain lower ones.
Drug crimes and sentencing
Persons accused of drug-related offenses must defend themselves against charges and evidence specific to them. Trends in sentencing may provide insights into what the courts are doing in general. Again, drug violations in Alabama experienced a near-39% adherence to federal guidelines, a fact that might not have any bearing on a particular defendant.
Several factors contribute to a defendant’s sentencing. An aggravated felon would likely deal with a harsher sentence than a nonviolent one.