Charles Askew Williams, 28, of Birmingham, was sentenced to Life without Parole last week after being convicted of heroin trafficking. A sentence of life without parole for a drug crime is a rare case. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Virginia Vinson even commented on how extreme the sentence was in her order. Judge Vinson stated that after looking at the law, she was left with no choice but to impose a sentence that would keep the man in prison for the rest of his natural life. The Judge further stated that if she “were able to give [him] a lesser sentence [she] would.”
Sentences for Life without Parole are usually reserved for the worst of the worst crimes in this state, such as Murder. However, under the Alabama Code, one convicted of drug trafficking, if the weight meets certain statutory guidelines, can also be sentenced in this manner. Alabama Code § 13A-12-231 (1)(d) requires a mandatory sentence of life without parole for trafficking in marijuana if the total weight is over 1000 pounds. Therefore, in Alabama, even when considering the state’s new mandatory sentencing guidelines for drug offenses, one can still be sent to prison for life without parole for a first offence.
Similar mandatory sentencing provisions exist for trafficking in excess of 10 kilos of cocaine or amphetamines; 56 grams or more of opium; 10,000 pills of methaqualone or hydromophone; or 56 grams or more of LSD.
If you have been charged with a drug crime, figuring out your minimum and maximum punishments is one of the most important steps to take. Contact the Birmingham Legal Team at Parkman & White today for a free consolation and get the help you need with your case. Even if your case is much smaller than the one discussed above, the Birmingham Legal Team can help.