Location:
PRISONS AND PRISONERS; SENTENCING;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations; Court Cases;

OLR Research Report


February 5, 2013

 

2013-R-0103

CRIMES WITH MANDATORY MINIMUM PRISON SENTENCES- UPDATED AND REVISED

By: Terrance Adams, Legislative Analyst II

You asked for a list of Connecticut criminal offenses that have mandatory minimum prison sentences. This report updates OLR Report 2010-R-0241 to reflect changes through 2012.

SUMMARY

We identified 64 crimes that carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of a specific duration. The mandatory minimum sentences range from a low of 48 hours, for a first offense of driving or boating under the influence if the offender is not sentenced to community service, to a high of life without possibility of release for murder with special circumstances.

Of these 64 crimes, we identified 15 which can result in a person being punished as a persistent dangerous felony offender. By law, someone can be prosecuted as a persistent dangerous felony offender if he or she stands convicted of certain serious crimes and has prior convictions of certain serious crimes. This law enhances penalties for these offenders, including doubling or tripling the mandatory minimum sentence that would otherwise apply.

We identified three changes to mandatory minimum sentencing laws since our 2010 report. These changes relate to driving under the influence (DUI) violations, marijuana possession, and capital felonies. Additionally, a 2011 public act permits offenders convicted of certain crimes to be released to home confinement.

CHANGES SINCE 2010

Ignition Interlocks

The law imposes certain penalties on people who drive while their license is suspended or revoked for DUI or certain other offenses. The penalties include mandatory minimum prison sentences of (1) 30 days for a first offense, (2) 120 days for a second offense, and (3) one year for third and subsequent offenses. In each case, the court is not required to impose the mandatory minimum sentence if there are mitigating circumstances.

PA 11-48 (and identical provisions in PA 11-51) subjected an individual under a court order or subject to the Department of Motor Vehicles' ignition interlock restrictions to these same penalties if he or she drives a vehicle (1) not equipped with a functioning ignition interlock or (2) that a court has ordered him or her not to drive.

Marijuana

PA 11-71 reduced the penalty for specified actions involving drug paraphernalia from a crime to an infraction when such actions relate to less than one-half ounce of marijuana. Unlike such paraphernalia-related actions involving other controlled substances or larger amounts of marijuana, such infractions are not subject to a mandatory one-year prison term, running consecutively to the term for the underlying offense, when committed within 1,500 feet of a school or day care center.

Capital Punishment

PA 12-5 eliminated the death penalty as a sentencing option for a capital felony committed on or after April 25, 2012, thus leaving life imprisonment without the possibility of release as the penalty. It also renamed the crime of capital felony as “murder with special circumstances” but specified that it does not affect capital felony convictions or cases pending before April 25, 2012.

Home Confinement

PA 11-51 allowed the Department of Correction (DOC) commissioner to release a sentenced inmate, after admission and conducting a risk and needs assessment, to the inmate's residence if he or she was sentenced for: (1) DUI or violating ignition interlock restrictions; (2) operating a motor vehicle with a refused, suspended, or revoked license or registration; (3) possessing a controlled substance other than a narcotic, a hallucinogen, or one-half to four ounces of marijuana; or (4) drug paraphernalia crimes. These released offenders cannot leave their homes without authorization, but the commissioner can revoke the release and return the person to prison for violating release conditions.

OFFENSES WITH MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES

In Table 1 below, we list offenses that carry a mandatory minimum sentence arranged by their classification, with crimes in numerical order within each classification. These include class A felonies, which carry a 10-year minimum sentence. (CGS 53a-28 and 53a-29 prohibit suspension or reduction of any sentence for a class A felony, meaning that the 10-year minimum sentence for a class A felony becomes a mandatory minimum.) Unclassified crimes are listed at the end of the table.

By law, attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime “are crimes of the same grade and degree as the most serious offense which is attempted or is an object of the conspiracy, except that an attempt or conspiracy to commit a class A felony is a class B felony” (CGC 53a-51). Thus, if someone is convicted of attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence other than a class A felony, the offender would be subject to that mandatory minimum sentence (see State v. Moran, 264 Conn. 593 (2003)).

It also appears that someone who is an accomplice in committing a crime that is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence would be subject to that mandatory minimum. By law, someone is criminally liable for the acts of another if he or she acts with the mental state required to commit a crime and solicits, requests, commands, or intentionally aids another to engage in criminal conduct. These offenders can be prosecuted and punished as if they were the principal offenders (CGS 53a-8).

Table 1: Crimes with Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Classification

Crime

(CGS )

Mandatory Minimum Sentence

Maximum Prison Sentence

Murder with Special Circumstances

Murder with special circumstances

(53a-54b)

Life imprisonment without possibility of release

Same

Class A Felonies

Murder

(53a-54a)

25 years

60 years

Felony murder

(53a-54c)

25 years

60 years

Assault of pregnant woman resulting in termination of pregnancy

(53a-59c)

10 years

25 years

Aggravated sexual assault of a minor

(53a-70c)

● 1st offense: 25 years

● Subsequent offense: 50 years

50 years

Kidnapping 1st degree

(53a-92)

One year (+)

25 years

Kidnapping 1st degree with a firearm

(53a-92a)

One year (+)

25 years

Home invasion

(53a-100aa)

10 years (+)

25 years

Employing a minor in an obscene performance

(53a-196a)

10 years

25 years

Class A or B Felonies (Depending on Circumstances)

Sexual assault 1st degree

(53a-70)

Two, five, or 10 years depending on the conduct and victim's age * ^ +

20 or 25 years depending on the conduct and victim's age

Aggravated sexual assault 1st degree

(53a-70a)

Five, 10, or 20 years depending on the conduct and victim's age * ^ +

20 or 25 years depending on the conduct and victim's age

Class B Felonies

Injury or risk of injury to a minor (involving contact with intimate parts of a minor under age 13)

(53-21)

Five years

20 years

Manslaughter 1st degree with a firearm

(53a-55a)

Five years (+)

40 years

Assault 1st degree

(53a-59)

● Five years if causes injury using a deadly weapon (+)

● 10 years if the victim is under age 10 or a witness (+)

20 years

Assault 1st degree of elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded person

(53a-59a)

Five years (+)

20 years

Promoting prostitution 1st degree (including someone under age 18) (53a-86(b))

Nine months

20 years

Class B Felonies (continued)

Enticing a minor (when minor under age 13)

(53a-90a)

● 1st offense: five years

● Subsequent offense: 10 years

20 years

Kidnapping 2nd degree

(53a-94)

Three years (+)

20 years

Kidnapping 2nd degree with a firearm

(53a-94a)

Three years (+)

20 years

Burglary 1st degree (with explosive, deadly weapon, or dangerous instrument)

(53a-101)

Five years (+)

20 years

Robbery 1st degree (with deadly weapon)

(53a-134)

Five years (+)

20 years

Importing child pornography

(53a-196c)

Five years

20 years

Possessing child pornography 1st degree

(53a-196d)

Five years

20 years

Computer crime in furtherance of terrorism (when directed toward public safety agency)

(53a-301)

Five years

20 years

Class B or C Felonies (Depending on Circumstances)

Sexual assault 2nd degree

(53a-71)

Nine months

10 or 20 years, depending on the circumstances

Sexual assault 3rd degree with a firearm

(53a-72b)

Two years ^ +

10 or 20 years, depending on the circumstances

Class C Felonies

Selling or transporting assault weapon

(53-202b)

● Two years

● Six years if sale is to a minor

10 years

Manslaughter 2nd degree with a firearm

(53a-56a)

One year (+)

10 years

Burglary 2nd degree with a firearm

(53a-102a)

One year (+)

10 years

Hindering prosecution 1st degree

(53a-165aa)

Five years

10 years

Possessing child pornography 2nd degree

(53a-196e)

Two years

10 years

Contaminating public water or food for terrorism

(53a-303)

Five years

10 years

Class D Felonies

Increasing speed to elude police after signaled to stop (involving death or serious physical injury)

(14-223(b))

Subsequent offense: One year

Five years

Refusing to stop boat when ordered by officer in law enforcement vessel and interfering with or endangering a boat, people, or property or increasing speed to escape or elude (causing death or serious physical injury)

(15-154(c))

Subsequent offense: One year

Five years

Illegal sale or transfer of handgun to person under age 21

(29-34)

One year

Five years

Possession of an assault weapon

(53-202c)

One year

Five years

Assault 2nd degree with a firearm

(53a-60a)

One year

Five years

Assault or larceny of elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded person 2nd degree

(53a-60b)

Two years

Five years

Assault of elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded person 2nd degree with a firearm

(53a-60c)

Three years

Five years

Burglary 3rd degree with a firearm

(53a-103a)

One year

Five years

Possessing child pornography 3rd degree

(53a-196f)

One year

Five years

Criminal use of a firearm or electronic defense weapon

(53a-216)

Five years

Five years

Criminal possession of a pistol or revolver

(53a-217)

Two years

Five years

Class A Misdemeanors

Assault 3rd degree (causing physical injury with deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or electronic defense weapon)

(53a-61)

One year

One year

Assault of elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded person 3rd degree

(53a-61a)

One year

One year

Class A or C Misdemeanor (Depending on Circumstances)

Use, possession, or delivery of drug paraphernalia near school by non-student (unless it relates to less than 0.5 oz. of marijuana)

(21a-267(c))

One year

Judges can depart from this sentence under certain circumstances#%

In addition and consecutive to any imprisonment for the underlying drug crime

Unclassified Crimes

 

 

Operating a motor vehicle without a license or with a suspended or revoked license

(14-36(i))

90 days if two or more prior offenses

One year

Operating a motor vehicle with a revoked, suspended, or refused license or registration. (two prior violations of this or operating in violation of license conditions) (14-215(b)(2))

90 days

One year

Driving during license suspension for DUI or DUI related offenses, or for violating ignition interlock restrictions or court orders resulting from such offenses

(14-215(c))

● 30 days unless mitigating circumstances%

● If offense is after 2nd suspension for DUI related offenses: 120 days unless mitigating circumstances%

● If offense is after 3rd or subsequent suspension for DUI related offenses: one year unless mitigating circumstances%

● One year

● If after 2nd suspension: two years

● If after 3rd or

subsequent suspension: three years

DUI (includes snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles)

(14-227a(g))

● 1st offense: 48 hours if not given community service%

● 2nd offense: 120 days %

● Third and subsequent offenses: one year%

● 1st offense: six months

● 2nd offense: two years

● Third and subsequent offenses: three years

Boating under the influence (15-133(b))

● 1st offense: 48 hours if not given community service

● 2nd offense: 120 days

● Third and subsequent offenses: one year

● 1st offense: six months

● 2nd offense: two years

● Third and subsequent offenses: three years

Unclassified Crimes

(continued)

Operating boat while certificate or right to operate is suspended or revoked for drunken boating or refusing to stop

(15-156(d)(1))

30 days unless mitigating circumstances

One year

Operating boat while certificate or right to operate is suspended or revoked for reckless boating 1st or 2nd degree while under the influence

(15-156(d)(2))

30 days unless mitigating circumstances

One year

Manufacture or sale of heroin, methadone, cocaine, or crack by non-dependent person

(21a-278(a))

Five years but the court may suspend it if the person (1) was under age 18 at the time or (2) had significantly impaired mental capacity

Judges can also depart from this sentence under certain circumstances#

20 years or 60 years

Manufacture or sale of narcotic, hallucinogen, amphetamine, or at least 1 kg marijuana by non-dependent person

(21a-278(b))

● 1st offense: five years

● Subsequent offense: 10 years

The court may suspend it if the person (1) was under age 18 at the time or (2) had significantly impaired mental capacity

Judges can also depart from this sentence under certain circumstances#

● 1st offense: 20 years

● Subsequent offense: 25 years

Sale of drugs to minor

(21a-278a(a))

Two years

In addition and consecutive to any imprisonment for the underlying drug crime

Sale of drugs to minor near school, public housing project, or day care center

(21a-278a(b))

Three years

Judges can depart from this sentence under certain circumstances#

In addition and consecutive to any imprisonment for the underlying drug crime

Using person under 18 to sell drugs

(21a-278a(c))

Three years

In addition and consecutive to any imprisonment for the underlying drug crime

Possess narcotic, hallucinogen, or controlled substance near school or day care center

(21a-279(d))

Two years

Judges can depart from this sentence under certain circumstances#%

In addition and consecutive to any imprisonment for the underlying drug crime

Carry handgun without a permit

(29-37(b))

One year if no mitigating circumstances

Five years

Commit class A, B, or C felony with assault rifle

(53-202j)

Eight years

In addition and consecutive to any imprisonment for the felony

Commit class A, B, or C felony with firearm

(53-202k)

Five years

In addition and consecutive to any imprisonment for the felony

Unclassified Crimes

(continued)

Carjacking

(53a-136a)

Three years

In addition and consecutive to any imprisonment for the robbery

Acts of terrorism (when commit a class B felony)

(53a-300)

10 years (this law authorizes the court to impose the penalty for the next most serious degree of felony; if the felony is a class B felony, this law would impose the penalty for a class A felony which would carry a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence)

25 years

+ These crimes are subject to the persistent dangerous felony offender law which, depending on the offender's record, could double or triple the mandatory minimum sentence the court imposes.

* The law also sets a 10-year mandatory minimum period of combined imprisonment and special parole for these crimes.

^ An offender convicted of this crime could, based on his or her record, be prosecuted as a persistent dangerous sexual offender, which requires a combined prison sentence and period of special parole that constitutes a life sentence (statutorily defined as 60 years) instead of the statutory sentence for the crime.

# Judges can impose less than the mandatory minimum sentence if no one was hurt during the crime and the defendant (1) did not use, attempt, or threaten to use physical force; (2) was unarmed; and (3) did not use, threaten to use, or suggest that he had a deadly weapon or other instrument that could cause death or serious injury. Defendants must show good cause and can invoke this provision only once (CGS 21a-283a).

% An offender convicted of these crimes could be released to home confinement by the DOC commissioner after a needs and risk assessment.

MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES FOR 1ST DEGREE KIDNAPPING AND 1ST DEGREE ARSON

By statute, 1st degree kidnapping is a class A felony, and 10 years of a sentence for a class A felony cannot be suspended. In State v. Jenkins, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to subject a person convicted of 1st degree kidnapping to a higher mandatory minimum sentence than a person convicted of kidnapping with a firearm, which is punishable as a class A felony with only a one year mandatory minimum sentence (198 Conn. 671 (1986)). The court ruled that the one-year mandatory minimum sentence would apply to both crimes.

By statute, 1st degree arson is also a class A felony. In State v. O'Neill, the court held that it is unconstitutional to subject a person convicted of 1st degree arson to a 10-year mandatory minimum while allowing the suspension of a sentence for arson murder, a more serious crime (200 Conn. 268 (1986)).

PERSISTENT DANGEROUS FELONY OFFENDERS

Of the 64 crimes that carry a mandatory minimum sentence, we identified 15 which can result in a person being punished as a persistent dangerous felony offender. By law, someone can be prosecuted as a persistent dangerous felony offender if he or she stands convicted of certain serious crimes and has prior convictions of certain serious crimes (CGS 53a-40). This law enhances penalties for these offenders, including doubling or tripling the mandatory minimum sentence that would otherwise apply.

For those with one of the required prior convictions, the penalty is a range between twice the minimum penalty for the crime the person stands convicted of, including twice any mandatory minimum sentence that applies, to a maximum of 40 years or twice the maximum penalty for the crime the person stands convicted of, whichever is longer. (This is often referred to as “two strikes.”)

For those with two of the required prior convictions, the penalty is a range between three times the minimum penalty for the crime the person stands convicted of, including three times any mandatory minimum sentence that applies, and life in prison (statutorily defined as 60 years). (This is often referred to as “three strikes.”)

In addition to mandatory minimum prison sentences, the law sets a 10-year mandatory minimum period of combined imprisonment and special parole for aggravated 1st degree sexual assault and 1st degree sexual assault. Similarly, persistent dangerous sexual offenders are subject to a mandatory combined prison sentence and period of special parole that constitutes a life sentence (statutorily defined as 60 years) instead of the statutory sentence for the underlying crime (CGS 53a-40(i)). A persistent dangerous sexual offender is a person awaiting sentencing for 1st or 3rd degree sexual assault, aggravated 1st degree sexual assault, or 3rd degree sexual assault with a firearm who has previously been sentenced to at least one year in prison for one of these crimes, attempt to commit one of them, similar crimes under predecessor statutes, or substantially similar crimes prosecuted elsewhere (CGS 53a-40(b)).

Other persistent offender provisions allow the court to impose a harsher sentence than otherwise authorized for the crime, including authorizing a three year mandatory minimum for a persistent felony offender (CGS 53a-40(m)), but these provisions do not require the court to impose the enhanced penalties.

The law contains a list of crimes that someone can stand convicted of to be eligible for sentencing under this provision. Some of these crimes carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence. Table 2 shows these crimes and how that mandatory minimum sentence would be doubled or tripled for a persistent dangerous felony offender.

Table 2: Penalties Under the Persistent Dangerous Felony Offender Statute for Crimes With Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Current Conviction

Penalty With One Prior Conviction

Penalty With Two Prior Convictions

Manslaughter 1st degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-55a)

10 to 80 years; 10 year mandatory minimum

15 to 60 years; 15 year mandatory minimum

Manslaughter 2nd degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-56a)

2 to 40 years; 2 year mandatory minimum

3 to 60 years; 3 year mandatory minimum

Kidnapping 1st degree or 1st degree with firearm (CGS 53a-92 and 53a-92a)

20 to 50 years; 2 year mandatory minimum

30 to 60 years; 3 year mandatory minimum

Kidnapping 2nd degree or 2nd degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-94 and 53a-94a)

2 to 40 years; 6 year mandatory minimum

3 to 60 years; 9 year mandatory minimum

Robbery 1st degree (CGS 53a-134)

2 to 40 years; 10 year mandatory minimum if armed with a deadly weapon

3 to 60 years; 15 year mandatory minimum if armed with a deadly weapon

Assault 1st degree (CGS 53a-59)

2 to 40 years; 10 year mandatory minimum if used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to cause serious physical injury or 20 year mandatory minimum if victim under age 10 or a witness

3 to 60 years; 15 years mandatory minimum if used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to cause serious physical injury or

30 year mandatory minimum if victim under age 10 or a witness

Assault of elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded person 1st degree (CGS 53a-59a)

2 to 40 years; 10 year mandatory minimum

3 to 60 years; 15 year mandatory minimum

Home invasion (53a-100aa)

20 to 50 years; 20 year mandatory minimum

30 to 60 years; 30 year mandatory minimum

Burglary 1st degree (CGS 53a-101)

2 to 40 years; 10 year mandatory minimum if armed with explosives, deadly weapon, or dangerous instrument

3 to 60 years; 15 year mandatory minimum if armed with explosives, deadly weapon, or dangerous instrument

Burglary 2nd degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-102a)

2 to 40 years; 2 year mandatory minimum

3 to 60 years; 3 year mandatory minimum

Sexual assault 1st degree (CGS 53a-70)

Depending on the circumstances and age of the victim: 2 to 40 years or 20 to 50 years; mandatory minimum of 4, 10, or 20 years

Depending on the circumstances and age of the victim: 3 to 60 years or 30 to 60 years; mandatory minimum of 6, 15, or 30 years

Aggravated sexual assault 1st degree (CGS 53a-70a)

2 to 40 years or 20 to 50 years if victim under 16 years; 10 year mandatory minimum or 40 year mandatory minimum if victim under 16 and force used or threatened

3 to 60 years or 30 to 60 years if victim under 16 years; 15 year mandatory minimum or 60 year mandatory minimum if victim under 16 and force used or threatened

Sexual assault 3rd degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-72b)

2 to 40 years; 4 year mandatory minimum

3 to 60 years; 6 years mandatory minimum

The persistent dangerous felony offender statute uses the terms “manslaughter,” “arson,” “kidnapping,” and “assault in the first degree.” These do not refer to specific criminal statutes but they appear to apply to all of the crimes listed in the table above. For example, “manslaughter” appears to include the crimes of 1st degree manslaughter, 1st degree manslaughter with a firearm, 2nd degree manslaughter, 2nd degree manslaughter with a firearm, and 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle.

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