Defendant was indicted and convicted after trial of the sale of two ounces, 33 grains of cocaine to an undercover police officer on August 1988. The trial testimony established that, in a known drug location, defendant sold the undercover officer 214 vials of cocaine for $2,000 and promised to “take care of” him “the next time” he came.
A New York Drug Possession Crime lawyer said that at the time of the sale she was 17 years old. Conviction of a class A-I felony carries a mandatory indeterminate prison sentence, the minimum of which is not less than 15 years and not more than 25 years, the maximum of which is life imprisonment. The trial court, however, determined that in defendant’s case, imposing even the minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years to life would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The court, therefore, imposed an indeterminate sentence of eight years to life imprisonment. A divided Appellate Division affirmed, the dissenters voting to reverse the sentence and remand the case to Supreme Court for resentencing in compliance with the Penal Law’s mandatory sentencing provisions for an A-I felony conviction.
In a case law, the Supreme Court in an opinion, albeit not without doubts expressed regarding the wisdom of the severity of the sentencing scheme for drug offenses enacted in 1973, upheld the facial and as applied validity of the mandatory maximum life imprisonment sentence and various mandatory minimum prison sentences in that legislation as against challenges under the cruel and unusual punishment prohibitions of the State and Federal Constitutions.
In another case, the Criminal Court adopted the principle that a sentence may constitute cruel and unusual punishment by being ” ‘cruelly’ excessive, that is, grossly disproportionate to the crime for which it is exacted”
The Court recognized that, although not all of the defendants were “hardened” criminals, each was convicted of at least “street” sales or possession of large amounts of narcotics and none was what might be described as merely an “accidental” offender; therefore, we concluded that each could reasonably be considered a serious threat to society meriting severe punishment. Accordingly, the Court found none of the sentences was grossly disproportionate to the crime committed, and concluded that the mandatory imprisonment provisions for drug-related crimes withstood both the facial and as applied challenges to their constitutionality.
To Be Cont…
Here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, our New York Cocaine Possession attorneys will help you prosecute these drug addicts and put them to rehabilitation centers. For other inquiries, you can also ask our New York Criminal lawyers for an advice.