Senate bill proposes mandatory minimum sentence for fentanyl dealing
The bill was introduced on Friday, Jan. 13. Sen. David Hogue is the primary sponsor.
BISMARCK — A bill recently introduced in the North Dakota Senate proposes a mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of selling or manufacturing fentanyl.
Senate Bill 2248 was introduced by Sen. David Hogue on Friday, Jan. 13.
“The lethality of fentanyl is much different — and more — than other illicit drugs. My sense is that it’s killing a lot of people through overdoses in North Dakota,” Hogue said.
If the bill passes, a person convicted of a crime related to dealing fentanyl would be sentenced to at least one year in prison.
“The criminal sanction should be more, just because of the lethality of the drug,” Hogue said.
The mandatory minimum does not include those convicted of fentanyl possession. The mandatory minimum sentence includes only those convicted of selling or manufacturing the drug. It also applies to those who have the drug and have the intent to manufacture or sell it.
If charged with any of the aforementioned crimes, they could not be dismissed through a plea agreement. Additionally, the court would not be able to defer imposition of sentence or suspend any part of the minimum one-year sentence.
“I decided on [one year] based on the fact that we always get a lot of pushback from various stakeholders when we do mandatory minimums,” Hogue said.
According to Hogue, the Department of Corrections may have to contract people out due to correctional centers reaching capacity, which adds additional cost.
“I’m willing to invest the extra resources,” Hogue said.
There is also push-back, at times, from the judicial system, he said. However, some have actually been asking for a mandatory minimum, including Don Hager, presiding judge of the Northeast Central Judicial District.
“I was glad to see there are some members of the judiciary who say, ‘This is slipping away from us,” Hogue said.
The bill also proposes a requirement for North Dakota law enforcement agencies to provide the attorney general with an annual report of all fentanyl-related deaths.
Hogue said it would be “a little more work” for law enforcement, but they’re used to reporting because it’s already mandated for motor vehicle accidents.
“We as a state should want to know about the scope of this problem, because it is a significant problem,” Hogue said.
Hogue is the primary sponsor; the other sponsors are Sen. Diane Larson, Sen. Larry Luick, Rep. Lawrence Klemin and Rep. Scott Louser.