If you are convicted of a crime, a judge will eventually hand down a sentence that you’l have to complete. Oftentimes this is done during a separate sentencing hearing, and judges typically hand down sentences based on standard sentencing guidelines. However, if you do not feel like a standard sentence is appropriate, you can petition for what’s known as a departure. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at sentencing departures and how you can request one during your court appearance.
Types Of Sentencing Departures
There are two types of sentencing departures in Minnesota, which are dispositional departures and durational departures. We’ll break them both down below.
Dispositional Departures – A dispositional departure involves a request to not send a defendant to jail. Compelling evidence for a dispositional departure typically focuses on factors related to the defendant, like it would create a substantial hardship for their children, for example.
Durational Departures – A durational departure involves a request to hand down a sentence outside of the standard sentencing guidelines. In most cases, this involves a defense lawyer petitioning a judge to have their client who is guilty of a felony to be sentenced as if the crime was a gross misdemeanor, or the lawyer will ask the judge to sentence the defendant to less prison time than is typically given for such an offense. Compelling evidence for a durational departure typically focuses on factors related to the crime. For example, someone who flees the police on foot may motion for a durational departure, as their crime is less severe than someone who flees from police in a vehicle and causes property damage.
Durational departures may also be requested as part of a plea deal. If you are charged with a felony and are hoping to face smaller potential penalties through a plea deal, your lawyer may motion for a durational departure to a gross misdemeanor sentence. This can avoid the permanent mark of a felony conviction and help you avoid time in prison, although a jail sentence will likely still follow.
If you are interested in a departure, your lawyer will need to make a motion at sentencing. If the prosecution agrees, odds are the judge will sign off one the departure. But if the prosecution disagrees with the departure request, the defense lawyer will have to submit compelling evidence as to why the judge should grant the motion.
If you’re facing an uphill battle when it comes to your criminal charge, trust your case to a law firm that can explore all options and help you avoid a worst case scenario. We’ll work hard to help you win your case, but if that doesn’t happen, we’ll do everything in our power to mitigate the fallout at sentencing. For more information, contact our team today at (952) 224-2277.