Michigan Court Explains Factors Weighed in a Request for Compassionate Release

Drug crimes typically carry significant penalties, and people convicted of such offenses may be sentenced to decades in prison. In some instances, though, a person serving a significant sentence for a drug crime may be able to argue for compassionate release. Demonstrating that such relief is warranted can be difficult, however, as demonstrated in a recent Michigan case. If you are charged with a drug crime, it is smart to speak to a Michigan drug crime defense attorney regarding your options for protecting your interests.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that in 2013, the defendant was charged with and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment, which was the mandatory minimum sentence. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the defendant’s prison, he moved for compassionate release. In support of his motion, he argued that his pre-existing health conditions and the fact that the First Step Act reduced the minimum sentence for similar crimes constituted compelling and extraordinary reasons that warranted an early release. He also noted that he had not garnered any infractions in prison and had completed his education. The district court nonetheless denied his motion. He then appealed.

Factors Weighed in Evaluating a Request for Compassionate Release

The appellate court found the district court’s analysis of the federal sentencing factors to be sufficient to affirm its ruling. The appellate court noted that the district court weighed the relevant sentencing factors, including the defendant’s criminal history and the characteristics of his crime, and found that they weighed heavily against granting relief. Specifically, it noted he frequently committed crimes while on supervision or parole and had an extensive criminal past.

The district court also noted other factors it deemed relevant, including the fact that the defendant’s sentence was deemed necessary to protect the public, and reducing his sentence to less than half of the mandatory minimum would undermine its goals of general and specific deterrence in light of his repeated offenses.

While the appellate court stated the district court could have issued a more elaborate opinion, it found that its analysis was adequate to avoid being considered an abuse of discretion. The appellate court explained that it did not require district courts to set forth exhaustive opinions, but only enough to allow for meaningful appellate review. In sum, the appellate court found that the district court adequately weighed the relevant factors in considering the defendant’s request, and issued an order appropriately setting forth the reasoning for its opinion. Thus, it affirmed the district court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

A conviction for a drug crime can result in a lengthy prison term, but there are often numerous arguments an offender can make in favor of a reduced sentence. If you are charged with a drug crime, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss your case. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a trusted Michigan drug crime defense lawyer with the knowledge and experience needed to help you assert your rights, and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Bernstein via the online form or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a conference.


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