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What you need to know about mandatory minimum sentences

If you are facing criminal charges, you may have some well-founded fears about spending time behind bars, paying a stiff fine or both. This may be especially true if you have previous convictions on your record. How much time you spend in prison, though, may depend on Georgia’s mandatory minimum sentencing rules.  

Mandatory minimum sentencing laws require judges to sentence convicted individuals to at least a minimum amount of time behind bars. Judges typically have little or no leeway to deviate from these laws, which make punishments severe for certain offenses.  

Georgia’s seven deadly sins

In Georgia, seven serious felonies require judges to impose mandatory minimum sentences. Among others, these include kidnapping and armed robbery. For these seven deadly sins, judges must sentence convicted individuals to a minimum of 10 years in prison without the possibility of parole. For murder, judges must sentence a person to at least life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.  

Georgia’s compounding sentencing scheme

If an individual commits one of Georgia’s seven deadly sins for a second time, a judge must impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Even committing a less serious felony is often problematic, as a second conviction requires judges to implement the harshest possible penalty for the felony offense. If a person has four felony convictions, the judge must sentence him or her to serve the maximum time behind bars without the option of parole.  

Georgia’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws may have a disparate impact on people of color or other disadvantaged groups. Regardless, if you are facing prosecution for a serious felony or even a less serious one, defending yourself aggressively may give you your best chance of staying out of prison or serving a short sentence.