Enhanced Criminal Sentences

Enhanced criminal sentences refer to a group of laws that cause a criminal sentence to be doubled. I have previously written about habitual sentences. These occur when a person has two or more prior felony convictions and obtains a new or third charge. The third charge can fall under the habitual laws, Mississippi Code Annotated, Sections 99-19-81 & 99-19-83, as amended. Enhanced sentences can occur in one of several circumstances. As lawyers we frequently see enhanced charges arise in drug case. Under Mississippi Law if you have a drug conviction and you get arrested a second time, the prosecutor can enhance or double your sentence. So, if you are charged with possession of marijuana and your maximum sentence is 3 years, but you have a prior drug charge, then you can be subjected to 6 years.

There are other enhanced sentences that may apply in criminal cases. A person can be subjected to double punishment if they have a firearm while in possession of controlled substances (drugs). Double punishment is also allowed if someone sells, transfers, or delivers drugs within 1500 feet of a church, school, or similar place. In some cases we have seen young teenagers who are “working off” their arrests for the police ask their friends to bring a “nickle” bag of marijuana. The person working off a charge for the police will deliberately draw the person within 1500 feet of a playground or school so the police can ask the prosecutor to double the punishment.

There are other types of enhanced punishment. There is an enhanced punishment for hate crimes and enhanced punishment for multiple shoplifting and driving under the influence of alcohol. In addition to enhanced punishment, a person could be subject to an enhanced punishment and a habitual charge at the same time. For example, if a person had two prior felony charges for bad checks and sold a small amount of cocaine within 1500 feet of a school, the person could be subject to 30 years, doubled to 60 years and as a habitual.

Merrida Coxwell is an experienced criminal defense attorney with over 29 years years experience in state and federal cases. He has handled almost every type of criminal case in state and federal. Merrida has also written or participated in over 120 appeals in criminal cases. For a free consultation call 601-948-1600.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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