Michigan Court Discusses Sentence Reductions Under the First Step Act

The recent enactment of the First Step Act has allowed many inmates to receive reduced sentences. As the courts continue to navigate the parameters of the Act, they are clarifying the guidelines for determining who is eligible for a sentence reduction. This was illustrated in a recent Michigan case, in which a defendant appealed the denial of his request for a reduced sentence for his bank robbery conviction. If you are charged with a theft crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your potential defenses.

The Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of robbing a bank. He was sentenced to 165 months in prison and is serving his sentence in federal prison. He moved for a reduced sentence under the First Step Act, citing his age and other health conditions as reasons for his concerns that he may develop severe complications from COVID-19. The government filed a response in opposition to his motion. The court ultimately denied his motion without a hearing.

Sentence Reductions Under the First Step Act

The court explained that district courts could only modify a defendant’s sentence if they have statutory authority to do so. The First Step Act provides them with such authority. Specifically, it states, in the relevant part, that upon a defendant’s motion, a court may reduce a defendant’s sentence after considering multiple enumerated factors if it finds that there are compelling and extraordinary reasons that warrant such a reduction.

The First Step Act also requires defendants to exhaust their administrative rights to an appeal prior to seeking such relief. Following the enactment of the First Step Act, the Sixth Circuit clarified the manner in which district courts should evaluate a defendant’s motion for release under the Act. In doing so, it dictated that a third factor, a policy statement, was no longer a requirement.

In the subject case, the court declined to reduce the imposed sentence. The court noted that the defendant suffered from multiple conditions that increased his risk of contracting a severe illness from COVID-19. It stated, however, that he was fully vaccinated and only two inmates at his facility were COVID-19 positive. Thus, his risk of contracting it was low and did not constitute a sufficient reason for reducing his sentence. Further, the court held that the circumstances and nature of his offense and the need to protect the public from additional crimes weighed against a reduction. Thus, it denied his motion.

Meet with a Knowledgeable Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Many people serving sentences for theft crimes may be eligible for a sentence reduction pursuant to the First Step Act. If you have questions about the Act or criminal charges against you, it is advisable to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a knowledgeable Michigan criminal defense lawyer who can inform you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Bernstein via the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a meeting.

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