Michigan Sentencing Guidelines

Lawyer and client shake hands over gavel and lady justice. Concept for Michigan Sentencing Guidelines.

Enacted in 1998, the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines were intended to make sentencing more uniform across the state by providing judges with minimum sentencing recommendations.

The guidelines gather the factors a judge should consider when sentencing a criminal defendant. A defendant in a felony case receives a score based on their prior criminal record and the seriousness of the current offense. However, judges have considerable latitude in their application of the guidelines.

Michigan Sentencing Guidelines Prescribe a Minimum Sentence

The Michigan sentencing guidelines only apply to felony cases. They prescribe a range of the minimum punishments that the judge, your attorney, and the prosecutor will use when describing your sentence. The maximum penalty is set by statute.

For example, suppose a person is convicted of a crime with a maximum sentence of 15 years. The sentencing guidelines recommend a minimum sentence of between 51 and 80 months. In setting the punishment, the judge can impose a minimum sentence of anywhere between 51 and 80 months, up to the maximum of 15 years.

Your lawyer has relatively little control over what happens at the end of the sentence. Those decisions are made by the Department of Corrections and the parole board. However, most inmates are paroled as soon as they are eligible, so it is advantageous to work to receive the minimum possible sentence that the guidelines prescribe.

How Judges Apply Michigan Sentencing Guidelines

When evaluating the mandatory minimum sentence, the judge will consider two factors: prior record variables and offense variables.

Prior record variables refer to a defendant’s prior criminal record. You receive points for each prior misdemeanor or felony conviction, including juvenile adjudications.

Offense variables are scored based on aggravating circumstances of the current criminal charges. The judge can consider the physical and mental injuries the victim suffered, the amount of financial loss incurred, the type of drug(s) involved, or a defendant’s blood alcohol level.

Overcharging Results in Harsher Penalties

Unfortunately, some Michigan prosecutors file their cases in a way that will result in the harshest possible penalties. To improve your chances of having the most severe charges dismissed, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands Michigan criminal law and how the sentencing guidelines are applied.

I understand the nuances of criminal sentencing and will work to have the most serious charges dismissed. This will reduce the potential minimum penalties you might face, resulting in a less severe punishment than you would have otherwise received.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can negotiate Based on Minimum Sentencing Guidelines

In negotiations with the prosecutor, I will work to lower the classification of the crime as part of a plea deal. If the crime is in a lower classification, the mandatory minimum sentence is lower. For example, if I can work out a deal for an attempted crime as opposed to the crime itself, the mandatory minimum sentence is half of what it would have been if you were convicted of the crime itself.

Advocating for a Downward Departure from the Sentencing Guidelines

When determining a sentence, judges have discretion to make a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines and must impose a sentence that is “reasonable.”

As your criminal defense lawyer, it is my job to identify the unique circumstances of your situation and educate the judge as to why a downward departure is reasonable in your case.

Put My Knowledge and Experience to Work for You

If you are facing Michigan felony charges, you and your family must understand the potential penalties you could face. I have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of Michigan criminal sentencing laws, the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, and how judges apply them throughout the state. I will help you evaluate the implications of a guilty plea and whether it is worth the risk of taking your case to trial. I will help you understand your options and the potential penalties you could face and will help you make decisions in your case.

I will also work to educate the judge that the sentencing guidelines are advisory, as opposed to mandatory, and that there are important factors in your case that mitigate the seriousness of your offense and should result in the least severe punishment. I often work with psychologists, psychiatrists, and forensic experts to educate sentencing judges about why they should grant a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines.

Contact Elmen Legal for Aggressive Criminal Defense in Ann Arbor, Michigan

If you are facing felony charges in Michigan, call Elmen Legal today. I will analyze your case, provide legal advice about your situation, and fight to have the charges reduced or the case dismissed. If a guilty plea is inevitable, I will work to reduce the severity of the punishment by educating the judge about your situation and why a downward departure is appropriate in your situation.

Whatever your situation, I assure you that I will care for you as an individual, shoulder some of the emotional burden, and fight for the best outcome I can achieve. Call (734) 707-8915 or contact me online to find out how I can help.

Elmen Legal proudly represents people in Ann Arbor, Saline, Pittsfield Township, Chelsea, or Ypsilanti, in Washtenaw, Wayne, Monroe, Lenawee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Ingham, Livingston, and Oakland Counties.

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