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A Gun Minimum Sentencing Hack

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by: Ryan Scott • March 31, 2024 • no comments

I had previously had a blog post where I argued that the first time a gun minimum is imposed, it must be imposed on the most serious offense to which the gun minimum was attached. Therefore, if a defendant is charged with murder with a firearm and felon in possession of a firearm, the gun minimum must be imposed on the murder (where, admittedly, it would have no effect.)

However, is there a time when you'd want the gun minimum imposed on a later count, despite the law? That is, where it's something you'd rather negotiate for. Yes.

First, if the state seeks to impose prison on one count and probation on the other, imposing the gun minimum on the non-prison count would likely increase the availability of sentence-reduction programs (AIP, transitional leave) that would not be available on a prison sentence with the gun minimum finding, even if the gun minimum is not imposed.

Second, even if the defendant is looking at prison on both counts, putting the gun minimum sentence on a non-M11 count may allow a greater reduction for earned time.

For example, assume defendant reaches a deal where he is going to be sentenced to attempted murder and felon in possession. Both allege the gun minimum, and it's the defendant's second gun minimum, so he is looking at 10 years mandatory. If the gun minimum is imposed on the attempted murder, the defendant's 120 month sentence would have 90 months subject to ballot measure 11 and therefore without earned time. The defendant could get earned time on remaining thirty months. Assuming all earned credits are in fact earned, the defendant would serve a sentence of 114 months. But if the defendant receives 90 months on the attempted murder charge and 120 months on the charge of felon in possession of a firearm to run concurrently, the defendant would get earned time on all 120 months, thereby reducing his total time to 96 months. (120-24). This is not speculation. Samson v. Brown, 486 P. 3d 59 (2021)