Blogs > Frye on the News

Keeping his eye on the news and offering commentaries and insights on what is happening in Oakland County, around the world, on the tube and in the news.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jail not always required for felons

Some have made much about the outgoing Detroit mayor avoiding prison
with his guilty plea to felony charges. Some believe that any guilty
or no contest plea to a felony should result in jail or prison;
however, that is not the case.
Most cases, when you sit through any of the dozen or so lengthy
criminal calls in the Oakland County Circuit Court, result in
probation with extensive conditions. Some get to jail, often
suspended if probation is successfully completed. A smaller
percentage gets prison, which indicates the amount of felony cases in
our courts with 55,000 people filling Michigan's prisons.
Most felony cases consist of drug possession (any drug other than
marijuana is a felony to possess) as well as credit card or car
registration fraud. Also, many misdemeanors require felony add-ons if
the person argues with or scuffles with police. Also high up on the
list are retail frauds, if a multiple offense or topping a certain
dollar amount.
The majority of these cases end with probation, usually with rehab or
some kind of substance abuse treatment required. Typically, theft
involves some kind of addiction.
Multiple domestic violence cases also result in felonies, most time
with minimal jail time as the victim usually wants (even needs,
financially) the culprit home.
Then there are the drunken drivings, oh so many, and these would
likely involve probation except the law mandates a minimum jail term
of 30 days. Often they get longer jail terms in Oakland County, and
it is not uncommon for those guys -- especially if they have more
than three arrests -- getting 18 months or more in prison.
So Kwame Kilpatrick is not getting a huge break by avoiding prison by
his pleading to felonies, and chances are, if he wasn't mayor and he
lied about romance on the stand, he'd get probation.
Of course, with all his problems, many would say that he does indeed
deserve prison, and that might very well be true.


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