Consecutive Sentences Greater than 25 Year Minimum Mandatory Lawful on Michigan CSC First

The Michigan Court of Appeals has indicated that two sentences of 30 to 50 years in prison for two CSC-I convictions may run consecutive to one another. This effectively means that this defendant received a minimum sentence of 60 years. The name of the case is People v. Randolf.

The Michigan sexual assault crime called criminal sexual conduct first degree, is set forth in Michigan Compiled Laws Sec. 750.520b. As therein provided, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree involves a victim aged 13 years or younger, or between 13 and 16 when certain exacerbating circumstances exist, such as a perpetrator in a position of authority.

The punishment for a Michigan criminal sexual conduct first degree conviction ranges depending again on the circumstances and facts of the involved crime. For example, in the case where the perpetrator is 17 years old or older, and the victim is less than 13 years old, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years. Furthermore, the law provides that the sentencing judge may order consecutive sentences for two criminal offenses “arising from the same transaction.”

In this case Randolf sexually penetrated his 9-year-old daughter two times in the same “transaction.” He appealed his two consecutive sentences, one for each penetration or count, of 30-50 years, arguing that it was unlawful. In analyzing the sentence, the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed, and confirmed the sentence.

In this case one of the issues raised by the defendant was that the Judge imposed the 30–50-year sentence under the mistaken belief that he was not departing from the guidelines. Randolf’s guidelines provided for a minimum-sentence range of 81 to 135 months in prison. Simple math suggests therefore, that the 25-year mandatory-minimum sentence required by statute was close to 14 years more than the upper end of the guidelines. However, as pointed out by the Court of Appeals, when the sentencing guidelines provide for a sentence less than mandatory-minimum sentence, then a sentence to the minimum mandatory, in this case 25 years, is not a departure because the mandatory-minimum becomes the de facto guidelines minimum.

Michigan sentencing law provides that the sentencing guidelines are discretionary, not mandatory. Nevertheless, when a judge imposes a sentence outside the upper guideline range the reasons for such departure must be stated on the record. In Randolf’s case, while it was true that the sentencing Judge was mistaken as to whether a 30–50-year sentence was a departure (it was), this mistake of law did not matter because the Judge acted as if the 30–50-year sentence was a departure because he stated, on the record, compelling reasons for the sentence.

The defendant also argued that the two 30–50-year consecutive sentences was disproportional.  Again, the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed. The Court looked again at the five reasons for the sentence provided by the sentencing Judge and on this basis found that the sentences were proportional.

The defense of criminal sexual conduct charges is highly complex, and this case demonstrates how this is true as it relates to the sentencing phase of the case. It is not difficult to imagine an attorney failing to recognize the possibility of such consecutive sentences, and therefore failing to properly advise his or her client of this fact. In such circumstances the client would not be able to appropriately make decisions or guide the attorney as it relates to important decisions relative to plea negotiations or trial.

If you have been charged with sexual assault, have one of the Michigan sex crimes lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm review you case and provide you with an honest assessment of your case as well as a evaluation of possible worst case scenario sentences. The case review is free of charge.

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