Dismissal of Criminal Convictions - MCLA 771.1
Pursuant to MCLA 771.1, defendants in many Michigan criminal cases – including a wide range of felonies and misdemeanors – may be eligible for a conditional future dismissal. There is no promise, but the court may defer the judgment of guilt and place offender on probation, which may also include:
- Drug court;
- Veteran’s treatment court;
- Mental health court.
Entry of judgment of guilt is deferred and sentencing delayed. Upon successful completion of the terms of probation, one may have the charges reduced or dismissed.
Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates can explain that under this provision, defendant will not have his or record sealed, but will be able to truthfully say they were never previously convicted of a crime. This can be a tremendous help for one’s future employment, housing, education and a variety of other aspects allowing one to continue life as a productive member of society, rather than merely as a convicted criminal.
Eligible Offenses for Delayed Sentencing
Delayed sentencing is available in certain cases where the defendant was charged with felonies, misdemeanors and ordinance violations, with the exception of the following crimes:
- Criminal sexual conduct in the first-degree
- Criminal sexual conduct in the third-degree
- Armed robbery
- Major controlled substances offenses
Other than those, eligibility may extend to those who either plead guilty or are found guilty at trial – so long as the judge finds defendant is unlikely to commit future offense or “engage in the criminal course of conduct.”
Defendant may be placed on probation instead of being sentenced right away. This is different than in most other misdemeanor criminal cases, where sentencing happens the same day a conviction.
Felony convictions are more complicated and involve a lengthier process, as there is more time at stake. The judge will order a presentence investigation (PSI), and this will include a review of the defendant’s past criminal history, if any, defendant’s mental health history, medical history, and a review of the sentencing guidelines.
At this point, the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney will be able to argue or “allocute” as to what to what the sentence should be, and the judge will determine the appropriate sentence, and a conviction will be entered on defendant’s record. This sentence can include jail, prison, probation, or a combination of all of these possible outcomes.
Terms of a Delayed Sentence in a Michigan Criminal Case
The judge may place a defendant on probation for up to one year under MCLA 771.1.
During that time, defendant will be under the supervision of a probation officer and must comply with the terms of probation. This can include taking random or scheduled drug tests, seeking and maintaining employment, getting a GED, going to community college, going to anger management, or any other terms the judge determines to be appropriate. While this may seem like a lot of work, it is important to understand that probation is not based upon the defendant’s consent. Defendant does not have to consent, so any of the terms, within reason, will be considered acceptable.
During the time defendant is on probation, which can be up to a year, defendant must prove he or she is not only capable of complying with the terms of probation, but also prove that treatment under the delayed sentencing statute is compatible with the ends of justice.
You should also know that while most cases do end in a carefully negotiated plea deal, it can be worth it for some defendants to take the case to trial. This is especially true when there are glaring weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
Hiring a Michigan criminal defense attorney prepared to fight for the best possible result facts will allow is essential. Unfortunately, there are far too many defense attorneys that plead all of their clients guilty and never have any intention of taking the case to trial. Prosecutors work with the same defense attorneys day in and day out and will know if the attorney will actually take a case to trial, and they will take this into consideration when deciding what type of plea deal to offer. As for the number of cases that go to trial vs. the number of cases that result in a plea deal, the Michigan Court System keeps detailed statistics.
Delayed Sentencing Fee in Michigan Criminal Cases
While the program does provide a remarkable and valuable opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction, it does come at a monetary cost. The judge is required to impose a fee in the amount of up to $135 multiplied by the number of months of the delay. The maximum number of months is 12, so that means a judge can impose a fine of up to $1,620.
While the judge will impose some fee, the statute does allow for this fee to be paid in installments, and the court shall consider the defendant’s ability to pay, taking into account his or income and the other reasonable expenses the defendant may have. There is, however, a table in the actual statute the provides guidelines for reasonable amounts for that fee. The fee is not applicable to a juvenile who has been placed on probation pursuant to one of the eligible offenses for a delayed sentencing.
This is only one type of plea deal that may be beneficial to a defendant. There is also the possibility for a defendant to be placed on probation pursuant to MCL 762.11, the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) or another presentence diversion program. This can be rather complicated, so the best thing a criminal defendant in Detroit or any other area in Michigan can do is to speak with a criminal defense attorney who understands these various options and knows how the system works. It should also be noted that these options are typically available for first-time offenders. These programs are designed to give defendants a second chance after making a serious mistake, but the criminal justice system is not in the habit of giving third chances.
Contact Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates. We have offices in Lansing, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. We travel throughout the state.