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The Justice System: Three Strikes and You’re Out

| Nov 18, 2012 | The Justice System |

In The Justice System in Michigan, it now appears that Three Strikes means You’re Out.  Michigan’s Legislature has passed new legislation cracking down on habitual felony offenders. Effective October 1, 2012, the Michigan Legislature updated the sentencing guidelines with the law more commonly known as the “Three Strikes Law.”

The “Three Strikes Law” appears misleading on its face because it actually applies to an individual convicted of a fourth felony. The new law exposes the individual who is convicted of a fourth felony offense to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of twenty-five years. However, the fourth habitual offense must be a “serious crime.”

So what is considered a serious crime in The Justice System? The law sets forth specific guidelines for judges and prosecutor’s to follow when enforcing it. The statute specifies that a person must be convicted of one of seventeen crimes that are listed in the statute itself. Therefore, being convicted of one of those seventeen crimes, or their equivalent conspiracies will “trigger” the enforcement of the twenty-five year mandatory minimum sentence. Essentially, serious crimes included in the list are homicide, assault with intent, such as assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, and criminal sexual conduct.

The second part of the “Three Strikes Law” deals with the prior convictions. Under the new law, one of the prior three convictions must fall within a second list of approximately forty-seven crimes. The second list of crimes in the statute includes those mentioned above. It also adds crimes like home invasion, intentional discharge of a firearm, or any drug offense that is punishable by more than four years.

The new law goes further to include a section for “Habitual Enhancement.” Habitual Enhancement refers to the courts ability to include prior offenses that received a juvenile sentence. So, if you are thinking that the new law may not apply to you because one of your prior cases was committed under the age of majority, don’t rest on your laurels. The prosecuting attorney or the judge can still use juvenile adjudications to enforce the new law if they want to.

So anyone who is charged and convicted of a fourth felony after October 1, 2012 needs to know there is a very good chance that the new “Three Strikes Law” will be applied at sentencing.

Therefore, if you or a loved one is facing a serious felony and has a prior criminal record, it is essential that you consult with an experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney as quickly as possible.