Court Upholds Sentence Below Sentencing Guidelines


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Case: People v. Cleveland

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Issues:

Sentencing; People v. Lockridge; People v. Steanhouse

Summary:

Noting that the trial court was no longer required to find substantial and compelling reasons for departing from the guidelines, and that the prosecution failed to show any error, the court affirmed defendant’s sentence. He pleaded guilty to first-degree home invasion and was sentenced to 6 months to 20 years’ imprisonment. The prosecution appealed by leave granted, arguing that the he should have been sentenced to a minimum term between 72 and 120 months, as calculated under the guidelines. The prosecution contended that “because judicial fact-finding did not affect defendant’s sentencing guidelines range, the trial court was required to provide substantial and compelling reasons justifying” its downward departure. The court concluded that it did not need to “determine whether the trial court provided substantial and compelling reasons to justify its departure.” The Michigan Supreme Court recently explained in Steanhouse that its ruling in Lockridge “held that the statutory guidelines ‘are advisory in all applications.’” Thus, the court had to apply Lockridge, and review the departure for reasonableness. It noted that the prosecution failed to explain how the sentence imposed did not satisfy the lesser reasonableness standard. Further, it granted the prosecution “leave ‘limited to the issues raised in the application and supporting brief.’” Those documents only raised a challenge as to whether substantial and compelling reasons for the departure were articulated. They did not address the reasonableness of the departure. Thus, if the court “were to go beyond that limited question, and address the reasonableness of defendant’s sentence,” it would violate the previous order.

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