Saturday, February 20, 2010

Roscommon Circuit: "I am not going to go there."

On February 2, 2010, the Michigan Court of Appeals reaffirmed the proposition that a sentencing court may not impose a prison sentence when the sentencing guidelines call for an intermediate sanction. In People v Lucey, Docket No. 288314, out of Roscommon County, the defendant, who was on parole at the time the offense was committed, had pleaded guilty to one count of attempted fleeing and eluding a police officer. The guidelines called for a minimum sentence between 5 and 17 months. The trial court sentenced Lucey to 17 months in the MDOC because it wasn't "going to go there." Where? The court did not want to sentence the defendant to a county jail sentence that would have to be served consecutively to the defendant's parole violation sentence.

The COA found that a possibility of a future sentence is not a substantial and compelling reason to depart from the guidelines and sentence the defendant to a prison term. The trial court had not articulated any other reason to depart from the guidelines, and, even though the prosecution argued that numerous other factors did exist to justify the departure, the Court held again that a trial court must articulate those reasons on the record and not rely on the COA to ferret out those factors on its own after the fact. Therefore, the Court remanded the case to the Roscommon Circuit Court with the instructions that it impose an intermediate sanction or articulate any factor that is substantial and compelling sufficient to justify a departure from the guidelines.