Michigan Court of Appeals Update
A Man in Jail Who Shared Information About Former Girlfriend With Another Inmate in an Effort to Have Her Killed is Not Predatory.
Michigan Legal Update on Sentencing Guidelines and Predatory Conduct
When a court sentences someone on a felony offense, the sentencing judge is supposed to consider something called “sentencing guidelines.” Sentencing guidelines are variables that are scored based upon the facts of the offense and criminal history of the defendant. The higher the point totals – the higher the recommended sentence. Although a judge is not required to sentence a felony defendant within the guidelines, there must be a reason for going above or below any recommended sentencing range. A recent decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals examines how “predatory conduct” is defined under the Sentencing Guidelines.
A Capable Defense Lawyer Fights for the Best Scoring of the Sentencing Guidelines – Fighting to Redifine “Predatory Conduct”
In the recent case of Michigan v Ronald Earl Cooper, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided that attempting to plan the killing of a former girlfriend did not constitute predatory behavior by Mr. Cooper, so his guidelines were scored too high. Because the guidelines were scored too high, Mr. Cooper’s ultimate sentence was too high and was reversed on appeal.
Offense Variable 10 – Explained
Offense Variable 10 (OV 10) is the exploitation of a vulnerable victim. If there was predatory conduct involved, the score would be 15 points. If the offender exploited a victim’s physical disability, mental disability, youth or agedness, or a domestic relationship, or the offender abused their authority status, would be a score of 10 points. If the exploitation occurred because there was a size or strength difference, or both, the victim was intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, asleep or unconscious, would score 5 points. If there was no exploitation of a victim’s vulnerability, then the score is zero.
How Can Soliciting the Killing of A Former Girlfriend Not Be Predatory Conduct?
Predatory conduct encompasses pre-offense conduct such as lying in wait and stalking. “Run of the mill” planning does not rise to the level of predatory conduct. There must be some form of exploitation of the victim. The court decided that the information given to the inmate was information that could have been gotten through innocent means while the relationship was ongoing. So, there was no predatory behavior, and scoring the 15 points under the guidelines was incorrect.
Helping Clients Avoid Jail and Prison
Judges and prosecutors routinely assume unfavorable facts are accurate with the goal of incarcerating defendants who should never be put in jail or increasing the sentences of those who are likely to be sent to jail or prison. This is done by artificially increasing sentencing guidelines by just assuming facts are true or bending facts to fit within the sentence guidelines variables. What is the difference between a typical criminal defense lawyer and a great criminal defense attorney? Where most criminal defense attorneys are too afraid to stand up to a judge or prosecutor and fight for a lower sentence, a great lawyer will not be stopped when fighting to get the best possible sentence! If judges or prosecutors are arguing for higher guidelines, it is the defense attorney’s job to fight each and every calculation that can be challenged in good faith. If one point is improperly scored and the defense attorney is not fighting for the client, an unacceptable injustice results.
The Fearless Use of Creative Arguments and Cutting Edge Theories Is the Difference Between a Good Criminal Defense Attorney and a Great Criminal Defense Attorney
The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. pride themselves in being the voice for the voiceless. It is essential to our attorneys that every avenue and every defense is investigated. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.’s attorneys, are renowned for their creative thinking and being fearless about taking chances to protect their clients. Our attorneys have spent their entire professional careers going the extra mile to ensure the rights of anyone charged with a criminal offense are protected. They will settle for nothing less. If you are in trouble or know someone who is, please call the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. we will put our decades of experience to work for you and ensure that you receive the highest level of defense and protection in court.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.