Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Law and Legal Definition

Mandatory minimum sentencing means a person convicted of a crime must be imprisoned for a minimum term, as opposed to leaving the length of punishment up to judges. For example, a person convicted by a federal court of possessing half a kilogram or more of cocaine powder must be sentenced to at least five years in prison.

Mandatory minimum sentencing laws force judges to deliver fixed sentences to individuals convicted of a crime, regardless of culpability or other mitigating factors. Mandatory sentencing contributed to prison overcrowding and has resulted in racial disparities in convictions.