A Maryland man is asking for a reduction in his 10-year sentence for distributing cocaine. The 38-year-old man is serving a 20-year prison sentence. One part of the sentence is for shooting a narcotics task force informant. Of the 20-year sentence he received in that case, 10 years were suspended. The other 10 years is the mandatory minimum sentence for cocaine distribution.
In 2017, Maryland eliminated mandatory minimum sentencing. At that time, all inmates who had been given mandatory minimum sentences had one year to petition the court for a modification.
In 2016, Weeks agreed that he would not seek to modify his drug sentence. However, his public defender told a judge on Feb. 20 that she had given him bad advice. The waiver did mention that there might be mandatory sentencing changes starting Oct. 1, 2016. However, the changes did not happen until a year later. The attorney argued that a person cannot waive a nonexistent right. She also said that public safety was not an issue in his sentence and the sentence was unjust. Her request is that the sentence should be served concurrently with the assault sentence, that his drug sentence should have parole eligibility or that the sentence should be converted to time served.
As this case demonstrates, it is important for a person who is facing drug charges to have good counsel at every stage of the process. A number of options may exist for a person's defense, for getting evidence dismissed or for getting a sentence reduced. An attorney might look at whether a person's rights were violated in the course of the drug-related investigation. It might also be possible to plead guilty to lesser charges in a plea bargain.
Source: Herald Mail Media, "Hagerstown man wants sentence for cocaine distribution reduced", Don Aines, Feb. 20, 2018