Michigan courts follow sentencing guidelines for individuals who have been charged and convicted of a felony in Michigan. The purpose of sentencing guidelines is to ensure that there are consistent sentences for the same crime and that there is no discriminatory sentencing occurring. As a result, if two people from completely different backgrounds commit the same crime in Michigan, they should be sentenced within the same range.
How Do Michigan Sentencing Guidelines Work?
Generally, each offense is assigned to a category, and each category is assigned to a variety of offenses and prior record variables. Each variable has a certain number of points assigned to it, resulting in a proportionate minimum sentence. Typically, all parties involved in the case will use the sentencing guidelines, including the judge, prosecuting attorney, your attorney, and the probation officer. Attorneys should use the sentencing guideline to argue for an appropriate sentence, usually the prosecutor arguing for the high range and the defense attorney arguing for the low range.
If there are disagreements on how many points should be placed against the defendant, the judge will decide how to resolve the disagreement. However, if the parties agree on the points, the judge will generally use the agreed-upon guidelines when determining the appropriate minimum sentence. It is important to note that the sentencing guidelines do not provide the maximum sentence because criminal statutes already do this.
There are several steps that are outlined in the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, including:
- Step 1: Score the Prior Record Variables;
- Step 2: Score the Office Variables (to do this, you must determine the crime category);
- Step 3: Identify the Crime Class and Proper Sentencing Grid;
- Step 4: Determine the Recommended Minimum Sentence Range;
- Step 5: Requirements for Departing from the Minimum Range
The Michigan Sentencing Guidelines provide for six crime categories:
- Crimes against a person
- Crimes against property
- Crimes involving a controlled substance
- Crimes against public order
- Crimes against public safety
- Crimes against the public trust
There are several classes of crimes that provide for maximum sentences that may be imposed:
- M2/Class A Offenses: Life in prison or any term of years
- Class B Offenses: Up to 20 years in prison
- Class C Offenses: Up to 15 years in prison
- Class D Offenses: Up to 10 years in prison
- Class E Offenses: Up to 5 years in prison
- Class F Offenses: Up to 4 years in prison
- Class G Offenses: Up to 2 years in prison
- Class H Offences: Jail or other sanctions
Calculating Prior Record Variables
To calculate your prior offense variables, your criminal record will be considered and all your prior crimes will be assessed. Then you will be assigned points depending on whether your prior convictions are considered high severity or low severity.
For example, if you have three prior high severity convictions, you will likely be assigned 75 points. On the other hand, if you have three prior low severity convictions, you will likely be assigned 20 points.
How To Calculate Offense Variable
Calculating offense variables is similar to calculating prior record variables but has more factors. For example, if you are charged with aggravated use of a weapon, you may receive 25 points if the firearm was discharged, but you will only receive 15 points if the weapon was pointed at an individual but was not discharged. Points are assigned based on the facts of the case and how well they align with the facts set out in the offense variable categories.
How Long Will I Be Sentenced?
The Michigan Sentencing Guidelines provide several charts like the following that outline the number of months you can be sentenced.
Are Sentencing Guidelines Mandatory?
No, in Michigan, sentencing guidelines are considered advisory, meaning courts are not required to use the sentencing guideline to find the minimum sentence. Instead, judges now have the discretion to sentence a defendant to less than the agreed-upon minimum sentence if they see fit.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged and convicted of a crime and want an attorney to make a case on your behalf during the sentencing hearing, the attorneys at George Law are ready to discuss your case. We will be able to look at your criminal record and the facts of the case to make the best argument on your behalf for an appropriate sentence and work with the prosecution with regard to any disagreements on point assignments. They will also be able to walk you through the likely argument the prosecution will make based on a review of the sentencing guidelines. To contact an experienced attorney at George Law for consultation, contact us at (248) 470-4300 or online.