While an acquittal or dismissal of charges is always the best case scenario in a criminal defense case, it's also smart to consider what can happen in the case of a conviction. The need for a defense attorney doesn't stop once the jury hands down their decision; experienced representation can still be helpful during the sentencing phase of any criminal conviction.
In general, a mandatory minimum penalty is the absolute least amount of jail time or smallest fine that the defendant can be subjected to in the case of a conviction. This means that the judge or jury have parameters already set forth for what sentence can be imposed. Not all crimes in the state of Connecticut carry mandatory minimum sentences, but many violent crimes do.
The mandatory minimum sentence for a crime varies depending on the specific offense, and even those offenses within the same class do not always have the same minimums. Murder and first-degree kidnapping are both in the same felony class, for example, but the mandatory minimums differ. The mandatory minimum sentence for murder is 25 years in prison, while the mandatory minimum for first-degree kidnapping is only one year. First-degree assault is a lower class felony, carrying a mandatory minimum of 5 to 10 years in prison depending on the circumstances.
Mandatory minimums are especially important to understand for those who are considering accepting a plea bargain, as defendants pleading guilty to a crime will face at least the minimum penalties. A well-informed decision includes understanding all possible outcomes, and someone experienced in the criminal defense of violent crimes is an excellent resource.
Source: OLR Research Report, "Crimes with mandatory minimum prison sentences - updated and revised" Terrance Adams, Sep. 21, 2014