"As indicated above, the authority once possessed by judges to decide on sentences within broad guidelines has, in the case of mandatory minimums, not been narrowed so much as it has been transferred to prosecutors. Though judges are required to impose specified sentences in certain situations, prosecutors are generally not required to charge a count carrying a mandatory minimum if other options are available. Prosecutors may use this flexibility as a bargaining chip in securing cooperation or a guilty plea for a lesser charge."
Caulkins, J., et al., Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences: Throwing Away the Key or the Taxpayers' Money? (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1997), p. 24.