Originally Posted by MasterOfPuppets
i guess thats why they have different degree's for major offenses, i guess they would just have to expand on that. oh and by the way, pleading ignorance to the law is an unacceptable excuse... i tried that one a few years ago on a seatbelt violation in another state ...and the cop told me "thats your bad" ....
Well, yeah, there are all kinds of different guidelines about enhancements for certain situations, mitigating circumstances for others, and a thousand other situations, to help judges and juries hand out appropriate sentences. Most of them are good ideas, too. I think the problem with mandatory minimums is that they come into conflict with that, and bring it back toward a one-size-fits-all punishment no matter what the guidelines originally said.
I get your point about how if you put it ALL in the hands of the judge, you could end up with mistakes being made. But getting rid of human judgment entirely is probably going to make just as many mistakes.
And don't even get me started about ignorance of the law; I've had my run-in with that too. My experience was when I was driving through Oregon and running low on gas ... so I pulled into a station, got out and started pumping. About 10 seconds later, the attendant came running out screaming "What the hell are you DOING?" and just stood there staring at me like I had two dicks. Turns out Oregon has a law against pumping your own gas; you HAVE to have the station attendant do it for you. Anyway, right then a cop showed up (whether by chance or because the attendant called them I don't know) and asked what was going on ... when I tried to explain I was from California and never heard of such a crazy law, he just sort of chuckled and sneered at me -- apparently, in Oregon, they have a certain contempt for Californians and their overpopulated big-city lifestyles.
So he gave me a notice to appear in court instead of a regular ticket -- basically to be a dick, because it meant I'd have to drive all the way up to Oregon again. But the joke was on them because I never showed up, betting the DA would never waste his time filing charges over something so stupid, which turned out to be correct.