The trial judge in People v Pinkney sentenced defendant Jamar Pinkney to 35-80 years after a jury found him guilty of second degree murder and a handful of other charges. Because the defendant used a gun in the commission of the crime and the jury found him guilty of felony firearm, the defendant must serve an additional 2 years, for a minimum sentence of 37 years before he will be eligible for parole. Felony firearm charges essentially arise when a defendant uses a gun while committing a felony. Michigan law does not allow this 2 year felony firearm sentence to run concurrently with the larger felony sentence. Therefore, the defendant convicted of felony firearm must always serve an additional 2 years in prison. This is a mandatory sentence, and a trial judge does not have discretion to sentence a defendant to less than 2 years for a felony firearm conviction.
The judge has wide latitude to sentence for a second degree murder conviction. After a felony conviction, the probation department interviews and assesses the defendant, then makes a recommendation to the judge on the proposed sentence. This recommendation is just that, and is not binding on the judge. The judge also considers the sentencing guidelines. These guidelines are comprised of a number of variables and considerations. They depend on the crime committed, how the crime occurred and the defendant's previous record. Both the prosecution and the defense have an opportunity to score the defendant and challenge the proposed guidelines if they disagree with the guidelines as drafted by the probation department. Ultimately, the judge has the final decision as to any disputed variables within the guidelines. In People v Pinkney the judge exceeded the guidelines, after giving his reasons for doing so on the record. At the sentencing, victims, the defendant and lawyers for both sides have an opportunity to explain why they think a sentence is appropriate. Judges can also consider other evidence such as written letters when determining the sentence. Sentencing is a very important part of the criminal process and should be carefully considered by a defendant and her attorney. Make sure that you consult with an experienced criminal attorney before you or a loved is sentenced in a Michigan felony case.
Judge slams door on killer dad.
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