Until recently, mandatory minimum sentences were in full effect in Michigan for criminal convictions. However, that’s all changing because of a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision.
In a 5-2 ruling in the case of People v. Lockridge, the Court struck down as unconstitutional part of Michigan’s laws regarding sentencing ranges for criminal convictions. Lockridge was sentenced to 8 to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for strangling his wife. Rather than allowing mandatory minimum sentences in statutes created by the state legislature to be the final word on the length of a prison term, the Court ruled that judges should have the power to make the ultimate decision on a prison sentence. The ruling in effect makes the statutory mandatory minimum sentences advisory rather than binding.
The biggest impact of this decision will be that mandatory minimum sentences are no longer in force statewide. While the sentencing ranges in state statutes will still serve as an important guideline, they will no longer be the ultimate word on sentencing. Instead, judges will be able to make their own determination on the punishment handed down according to the facts of the case rather than the constraints placed on them by Michigan law.
The Court has ruled that this change helps bolster a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights. The decision in Michigan is supported by a decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court that similarly struck down mandatory minimums.
What This Means If You Are Sentenced In Michigan
In practical terms, this decision could have a huge impact on defendants in Michigan. Under Michigan law before this ruling, judges had no discretion to take factors such as addiction or remorse into account to lower a person’s sentence because they were obligated to issue a sentence of a certain length no matter what. Now, Michigan defense lawyers will be able to better advocate for their clients and influence the outcome of cases more significantly.
Of course, the ruling does mean that sentences can be lengthened per judicial discretion as well as shortened. But ultimately this ruling has the potential to make sentencing more directly proportional to the crime committed and the facts in evidence.
While we cannot yet know the full impact of the Lockridge ruling, most Michigan defense lawyers have hailed it as progressive. Since mandatory minimums will no longer dictate the sentences imposed by judges, those convicted of crimes have a greater chance for leniency when their cases are presented well by an experienced Michigan defense attorney.
How a Lansing Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you have been arrested for a crime, it’s more important now than ever before to have an experienced Lansing criminal defense lawyer present the facts of your case in order to get the best possible outcome. Call us today at DeBruin Law at 517-324-4303 to set up a free preliminary consultation and find out how we may be able to help you fight your charges.