Michigan Court Discusses Sentencing in Gun Crime Cases

Federal law typically precludes people convicted of felonies from possessing guns. The courts have some leeway about sentencing people convicted of the offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm, but in many cases, they issue substantial sentences. Recently, a Michigan court issued a ruling explaining what factors are relevant for sentencing purposes following an unlawful possession of a firearm conviction in a case in which the defendant argued his sentence was unreasonable. If you are charged with a weapons offense, it is wise to speak to a Michigan criminal defense lawyer to determine what measures you can take to protect your interests.

The Defendant’s Charge and Conviction

It is alleged that police officers were looking for the defendant, as he was absconding from parole, and there were seven warrants out for his arrest. They received permission from a homeowner to search his house, and during the search, they found the defendant in the basement. He was sleeping on a mattress on the floor near an unloaded pistol and a magazine.

It is reported that the defendant was subsequently charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to fifty-one months in prison. He appealed, arguing that his sentence was substantively unreasonable.

Sentencing in Gun Crime Cases

Appellate courts review sentences for reasonableness under an abuse of discretion standard. The court explained that when a defendant asserts that a sentence is substantively unreasonable, they are essentially arguing that it is too long. A sentence will be considered too long if it is greater than is necessary to achieve the goal of sentencing.

The court further explained that when a criminal defendant argues that a sentence is substantively unreasonable, they are asserting that the court granted some sentencing factors too little weight and others too much. Some elements that are relevant for sentencing purposes are the circumstances and nature of the offense and the characteristics of the defendant. In other words, a court can consider a defendant’s criminal history when issuing a sentence, even if it is already reflected in the advisory guidelines range.

The mere fact that a court issues a sentence that is above the guidelines does not mean that it is presumptively unreasonable. In the subject case, the court found that based on the defendant’s extensive criminal history and the goal of deterring him from committing additional crimes, the sentence imposed was not substantively unreasonable. Thus, it denied his appeal.

Consult a Skillful Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

People convicted of felonies often lose important rights, including the right to own or carry a firearm. If you are charged with unlawfully possessing a gun, it is advisable to meet with an attorney to discuss your possible defenses.  Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a skillful Michigan criminal defense lawyer who takes pride in helping criminal defendants mount compelling defenses, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Bernstein through the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a meeting.


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