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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, May 27, 2010

Strong sentence, but a question

I'm used now to seeing strong sentences for drunken drivers who kill. The days of short jail terms or even two years sentences are over for the worst drunken driving cases.

Today, Frances Dingle of Macomb County, a 48-year-old woman, was sentenced to 22.5 to 25 years in prison for four counts of second-degree murder. She was drunk when her van slammed into a carload of teenagers in 2009.

But I wonder about the sentence. There's a two-thirds rule that requires the bottom part (minimum term) be no more than 2/3s of the maximum term. For instance, for a 15-year manslaughter charge, the highest possible sentence is 10-to-15 years. The idea is that the prison system needs some kind of incentive to keep prisoners in line.

But in many cases there are specifics that dictate the sentences being altered or adjusted, such as prior felonies making one a habitual offender.

I don't know what happened with this case to make have that odd sentence. I mean, one could argue that a defendant with a 22.5 to 25 year sentence could just be as unruly as possible, knowing that they only have to serve 2.5 years on their bottom term, especially because they may feel like parole is not likely the first time around.

Anyone have any thoughts?

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Blogger Stephen Frye said...

OK, one answer I got is that the 2/3s rule does not apply in capital cases. But it seems like the spirit of that rule should apply.

Why not just make a 22.5 to 34 year sentence? Same thing and even longer possible sentence if she misbehaves.

(Moot point, I know, because she's 48 and that she's already 70 when being faced with parole. She seems not to be in the best health and prison can't be that good for you.)

I wonder if the sentencing guidelines or a sentencing agreement made during the plea (a Cobbs agreement) force the max to be 25 years.

I also wonder if this wiill come up on the appeal.

May 27, 2010 at 10:59 AM 

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