Sentencing and Penalties

After you are charged with a crime in Michigan, your criminal case will pass through several stages, including your arrest, an arraignment, a preliminary hearing, a possible trial, and if you get convicted, a sentencing hearing. If you’ve been charged with a crime, your chances of obtaining a positive case outcome will depend on the advocacy skills of the criminal defense lawyer you have by your side at each stage of the process. Each stage of the process offers opportunities for your Lansing criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights and to push back against the prosecution.

What Is a Sentencing Hearing?

You will need to attend a sentencing hearing if the following apply:

  • You pled guilty or no contest to your charges
  • You were found guilty of the crime at your trial

Basically, the sentencing hearing is reserved for people who–from the authorities perspective, at least–are guilty of a crime. At the sentencing hearing, your criminal defense lawyer and the prosecutor will offer arguments about the sentence you should receive. They may even present witnesses and evidence to support their positions. Once each side has presented their case, the judge will determine your sentence. For more serious crimes, however, a jury may be involved in the process as well.

What Are the Sentences for a Misdemeanor Conviction?

There are three classes of misdemeanors in Michigan, which each carry a different range of penalties:

  • 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine–This applies to offenses such as disturbing the peace, larceny of property worth less than $200, and assault and battery
  • 1 year in jail and/or $1,000 in fines–This range of offenses includes larceny of property between $200 and $1,000, and intentional discharge of a firearm without the intent to injure
  • 2 years in prison and/or fines up to $2,000–These so-called high court misdemeanors include offenses such as negligent homicide by vehicle and indecent exposure

In addition to these penalties, the judge may sentence you to counseling or alcohol and drug rehab if relevant. If your offense involves the illegal use of a vehicle on a public roadway, such as reckless driving or DUI, the judge may also suspend your drivers license.

What Penalties Might I Receive for a Felony Conviction?

Felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors. A conviction will almost always involve a prison sentence and depending on the crime, you may also receive fines, which can reach into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. In addition to these penalties, you will face collateral consequences such as restrictions on your right to own firearms or to vote. While both felonies and misdemeanors will be visible on your criminal record, a felony has a much higher chance of interfering with your ability to get a job or to qualify for professional licenses.

Michigan felonies may carry the following prison terms:

  • Light jail time, probation, or electronic monitoring–These penalties apply to Class H felonies, which include offenses such as using a stolen ID to commit a felony
  • 2 years in prison–This is the maximum penalty for Class G felonies such as writing a bad check for less than $500, or domestic abuse
  • 4 years in prison–Class F felonies include delivering 5 kilograms or less of marijuana or completing a fraudulent credit card or loan application
  • 5 years in prison–This is the maximum sentence if you get convicted of a Class E felony such as home invasion of the third degree or carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to harm
  • 10 years in prison–This applies to Class D felonies such as human trafficking or embezzlement
  • 15 years in prison–This is the longest sentence you can receive for committing a Class C felony such as robbery or manslaughter
  • 20 years in prison–Class B felonies include second-degree arson or child abuse
  • Life in prison–This is the maximum penalty for committing Class A felonies such as murder, assault with a deadly weapon, or kidnapping

How Can a Lansing Criminal Defense Lawyer Help at the Sentencing Hearing?

Your sentencing hearing is extremely important because it is your opportunity to convince the judge to give you a lenient sentence after you’ve been convicted of a crime. Judges do not need to strictly follow the sentencing ranges described above. Therefore, it is essential that your lawyer collects evidence and presents testimony from character witnesses that can show you in a positive light.

If appropriate, you can also make a statement in which you apologize for your actions and explain the steps you have taken to make things right–even if you’re innocent. At this stage in the criminal justice process, the best outcomes are obtained by showing that you have taken responsibility for your actions and are seeking to get rehabilitated.

At DeBruin Law, we are dedicated to achieving the best possible case outcomes on behalf of our clients. No matter what criminal charges you are facing, or how desperate your situation may seem, a local attorney in Michigan can help. Don’t face the criminal justice system alone.

Call DeBruin Law PLLC at (517) 324-4303 today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.