Sentencing bill clears House committee

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on Thursday approved one facet of this year’s legislation seeking changes to the criminal justice system.

House Bill 349 would provide limited changes to Georgia’s strict mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. The changes in minimum mandatories follow recommendations by a council of criminal justice experts appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Under HB 349, if a prosecutor and defense attorney reach agreement, a defendant charged with a serious felony could receive a prison sentence below the minimum mandatory term. In other cases, a judge could give a person convicted of a drug-trafficking crime a sentence of less than the minimum mandatory, but only if the defendant was not a leader of the crime, did not use a weapon and had no prior felony conviction.

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