At first glance, you may think that a mandatory minimum sentence for a drug conviction in Louisiana is a good thing. After all, setting a baseline for judges could eliminate some of the conscious or unconscious personal bias and allow consistent sentencing guidelines. At the Law Offices of James A. Williams, L.L.C., we have seen that instead of providing positive effects, these mandatory sentencing laws have caused many unfair penalties.

However, there are sometimes ways to avoid receiving a mandatory sentence after a drug charge.

Factors that affect the setting of a mandatory minimum sentence

According to, the severity of the minimum sentence depends on a number of factors:

  • The nature of your offense
  • The amount of drugs involved
  • Your prior criminal record
  • Any injuries or deaths that resulted from the offense
  • Whether there are any related firearms offenses and if so, how you used the firearm

You can find most of the mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug charges in the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act.

When a defendant may avoid a mandatory sentence

If your case falls under the “safety valve” provision, you may be able to avoid a mandatory sentence because you are a first-time offender, you committed a low-level offense and it was nonviolent in nature. Or, you may be able to provide the authorities with assistance. In some cases, the prosecutor in a case decides not to prosecute. Rarely, the President may provide a pardon or commute a sentence.

More information about drug offenses and defense strategies is available on our webpage.