Under Florida Law, the 10-20-Life waiver of mandatory minimums is at the discretion of the prosecutor. Why is this not at the discretion of the judge and at the discretion of the prosecutor?


The short answer is that this is because the Florida legislature decided to do so.

Why would they do that?

  1. Prosecutors are perceived to be more consistently in favor of "tough on crime policies" than judges, so allocating the authority to prosecutors makes it likely that waivers will be granted more sparingly.

  2. Prosecutors have the authority to plea bargain and bring a lesser charge that doesn't have mandatory minimums in any case. So, the waiver provision merely formalizes the ability of prosecutors to do openly something that they could have done through the back door in any case.

  3. This follows the pattern of many other states.

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    In addition to this, Manditory Minimums are a restriction on judicial power. Allowing judges to waive them defeats the purpose of Manditory Minimums in the first place. The District Attorneys (and through them, their subordinates, who are generally the actual prosecutors) are executives, who have the power to drop prosecutions or refuse to prosecute if they feel that doing so serves the process of justice. This new power is an extension of this into the sentencing phase. And since it's passed by the legislature, and helps the accused, no one really has standing to challenge it. – sharur Mar 2 '17 at 22:16
  • @shaur Good points. – ohwilleke Mar 2 '17 at 22:25
  • @sharur Worth pointing out, however, the federal sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums in many states (including Colorado) have a "safety valve" clause that allows mandatory minimums to be waived in certain extraordinary circumstances. – ohwilleke Jan 27 at 19:38

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