Criminal Sentencing – Gerald R Stahl Criminal Defense Counsel in Grand Rapids
How is Sentencing Determined?
In a criminal case, judges are responsible for sentencing the defendants. Judges look at several factors in deciding the appropriate sentence. Two of the most significant factors a judge will consider are the defendant’s prior record and the circumstances surrounding the particular offense.
In Michigan, a defendant will be sentenced after the court has received a pre-sentence report from the Probation Department which will include scoring under the Michigan Sentence Guidelines. The Michigan Sentence Guidelines were adopted to give defendant sentences proportionate with the crime and some consistency in sentences. The judges are allowed to depart from the guidelines so long as they have substantial and compelling reasons to do so and those reasons are part of the sentence record.
In scoring of the Sentence Guidelines, the assistance of an attorney is extremely important. The first step is to determine the proper crime group. Crimes are divided into six different areas of criminal activity. Secondly, it is necessary to determine the defendant’s prior record score. Prior record would include felonies and misdemeanors and are scored according to their severity. Thirdly, it is necessary under the Sentence Guidelines to determine a score for the offense variable. An offense variable score can include such things as whether or not a weapon was involved, whether the defendant was a leader in the criminal activity, and the number of victims involved in a particular case.
Finally, it is necessary to determine the proper crime class and grid once the other steps in the guideline process have been scored. Upon scoring the proper crime class and grid it will be necessary to determine the proper sentence range that the defendant will fit into.
What Happens at the Sentencing Date?
The defendant is always entitled to speak at his sentencing. Also, the court will allow victims of the defendant’s criminal activity to speak in order to show how the crime has affected their lives. At sentencing, the defendant may choose to speak or not to speak. A lawyer representing the defendant may speak on the defendant’s behalf and advocate for leniency or a particular sentence result. However, sometimes lawyers will not speak as the sentence recommendation is consistent with the sentence that the defendant agreed to or was expected to receive. Prosecutors also have a right to speak at sentencing and depending on the facts of the case they may sometimes give lengthy orations about the crime or the victim’s trauma. The prosecutor may choose not to speak at all or he may advocate for leniency pursuant to a negotiated plea bargain. In any event, sentencing is a critical stage and a defendant should always be represented by counsel during sentencing.
If You or Someone You Know has been Charged with a Crime – “Better Call Stahl”
Gerald R Stahl is a criminal defense lawyer based in Grand Rapids with over 30 years of experience. He routinely represents defendants in throughout all Western Michigan Courts including Kent, Ottawa, Allegan, Barry and Newaygo Counties. Gerald R Stahl is conveniently located in Grand Rapids on East Beltline near the 63rd District Court.
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