Michigan Court Discusses Appellate Review of Criminal Sentences

When the Michigan courts sentence criminal defendants, they will typically rely on numerous factors, like sentencing guidelines and offense variables (OV), to determine what they deem an appropriate penalty. Courts are not immune to errors, though, and if they incorrectly apply the guidelines or calculate the OV improperly, it may constitute grounds for a reversal. Recently, a Michigan court discussed the appellate review of a trial court’s interpretation of sentencing guidelines in a case in which the defendant argued the trial court relied on improper evidence in issuing his sentence for numerous violent offenses. If you are charged with a violent crime, you could face significant penalties, and it is wise to contact a Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your possible defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was involved in an incident in which he fired a gun out of a van at another vehicle. One of the people in the other car was ejected and later died from his injuries. The defendant was subsequently charged with multiple offenses and was ultimately convicted of assault with the intent to commit murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced as a second-offense habitual offender to 38 to 62 years in prison. He argued that the trial court improperly applied the sentencing guidelines and erred in scoring his OV. The appellate court rejected his reasoning and affirmed his sentence.

Appellate Review of a Trial Court’s Interpretation of Sentencing Guidelines,

Appellate courts review the trial court’s interpretation of statutory sentencing guidelines de novo. In doing so, the appellate court must apply the rules of statutory interpretation. In the subject case, the appellate court explained that its goal in interpreting a statute is to determine and give effect to the legislature’s intent. If the statute’s language is clear and unambiguous, the appellate court will assume the legislature intended its obvious meaning and will interpret it as written.

With regard to the OV, the appellate court noted that proper scoring required reference only to the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced unless the language of the OV statute in question expressly dictates otherwise. In the subject case, the appellate court found that based on a plain interpretation of the language of the applicable law, the trial court did not err in calculating the defendant’s OV. Thus, it affirmed his sentence.

Speak to an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

The courts do not always issue sentences that align with the evidence, and people who believe they were improperly sentenced have the right to seek appellate review. If you are charged with a crime, you could face significant penalties if convicted, and it is smart for you to meet with an attorney. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer who can inform you of your options for seeking a favorable outcome. You can contact Mr. Bernstein through the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a meeting.




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