DUI defendants have many rights that extend from the moment an investigation begins till well after they are convicted. For example, if a person convicted of a DUI crime believes the sentence imposed for the offense is improper, they may raise habeas claims, essentially asking the court to determine if the sentence is unlawful. Such claims must be pursued in a timely manner; however, otherwise, they may be dismissed as untimely. The statutory limitations for seeking habeas relief were the topic of a recent Michigan opinion issued in a case in which the defendant appealed a lengthy sentence imposed for a drunk driving crime. If you are accused of driving while intoxicated, it is smart to speak to a Michigan DUI defense attorney to assess what penalties you may face if convicted.
Procedural History of the Case
Allegedly, the defendant was charged with multiple offenses, including a third offense DUI, arising out of a traffic stop. He pled no contest, after which he was sentenced to concurrent prison terms. The longest sentence was for six to twenty years for his DUI conviction. He subsequently filed a direct appeal in which he raised habeas claims. He challenged the legality of his sentence on three grounds. Specifically, he argued it was unreasonable and disproportionately harsh in comparison to the severity of his offenses, he was denied a hearing regarding his prior conviction record, and his sentence arose out of erroneous scoring of the offense variables.
Statute of Limitations for Seeking Habeas Relief
If a defendant files a habeas petition, the court must first examine it to determine if it demonstrates, on its face, that they are not entitled to relief. If so, the court should dismiss the petition. A preliminary assessment in evaluating the petition is whether the defendant filed it within the one-year statute of limitations.
The one-year statutory period can be equitably tolled, but the defendant bears the burden of proving such relief is warranted, and such relief is generally granted sparingly. A party seeking equitable tolling must demonstrate he has been diligently pursuing his claims, but an extraordinary circumstance arose that prevented him from filing the claim in a timely manner.
In the subject case, the defendant admitted his petition was five months later but argued he was entitled to equitable tolling due to conditions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He failed to explain how the pandemic impacted the pursuit of his claims or should that he was diligent in his pursuit, however. Thus, the court denied his petition as untimely.
Meet with a Trusted Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
DUI offenses can carry significant penalties, and the penalties increase with each subsequent offense. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to discuss your options for seeking a just outcome. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a trusted Michigan DUI defense lawyer with the skills and resources needed to obtain favorable results, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Bernstein via the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a conference.