Instead of a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison, a 29-year-old man convicted of trafficking 3 grams of methamphetamine was instead fined $10,000 and sentenced to 10 years in probation.
In a written order issued yesterday, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo said that Don Sanchez will pay $83.33 a month starting Dec. 1, 2012, to the Office of Adult Probation until the entire amount of $10,000 is paid. If he misses or is late on a payment, he will be charged with criminal contempt and, if convicted, will be jailed for six months for each and every contempt proceeding.
“This could be a harsh sentence if defendant misses multiple payments, but the monthly payment is reasonable and it is far better than a 25-year sentence,” he said.
Govendo said the amount of drugs Sanchez was convicted of was three grams or less-an amount less than the size of a dime.
Under the mandatory sentence, Sanchez would be penalized and treated the same as a defendant who may be convicted of trafficking one ton of “ice,” who has several prior convictions, and who may have sold “ice” to school kids, Govendo said.
“The defendant in this case having none of those aggravating factors will nonetheless receive a mandatory sentence of 25 years if the court imposed a prison sentence. Consequently, there is a gross disproportionality which the court urges the Legislature to look into,” Govendo said.
Sanchez pleaded guilty to a count of trafficking of controlled substance.
At the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, assistant attorney general Shelli Neal asked the court for a 25-year sentence. Court-appointed counsel Stephen Nutting recommended a sentence of $10,000 fine with an $8,000 suspended fine and a probation.
In his order yesterday, Govendo said the 25-year mandatory term without parole or probation for a 29-year-old man convicted of trafficking 3 grams or less of “ice” does not serve the ends of justice.