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The Michigan statutory sentencing guidelines recommend that some offenders be sentenced to an “intermediate sanction.”  Previously, “intermediate sanctions” were defined as any penalty other than prison, including time in the county jail, as well as things like inpatient or outpatient drug treatment, probation, community service or house arrest.  A big change to that was made this year.

Effective March 24, 2021, the definition of “intermediate sanction” no longer includes a reference to county jail.  In fact, “intermediate sanction” is now defined as “probation or any sanction, other than imprisonment in a county jail, state prison or state reformatory….”  MCL 769.31.  For offenders whose minimum sentence guideline range falls in an intermediate sanction cell (upper limit is 18 months or less), “the court shall impose an intermediate sanction unless the court states on the record reasonable grounds to sentence the individual” to county jail or prison.  MCL 769.34.

In other words, the presumptive sentence for intermediate sanction cell offenders is no jail.  Of course, the sentencing judge has discretion to impose jail if there are specific “reasonable grounds” to do so, but no longer for your run of the mill intermediate sanction cell offender will county jail time be likely.  This is a significant change, one designed to decrease incarceration rates.

No major changes were made to the statutes regarding “straddle cell” offenders.   The wording of the straddle cell statutes changed a little bit but there is no real practical effect to offenders based on the changes in semantics.  Straddle cell offenders are still subject to prison, up to 12 months of jail or no jail at all.  MCL 769.34(4)(c)(ii).

Make sure your criminal defense lawyer keeps on these types of changes.  Knowing the law makes all the difference.  Contact the criminal defense lawyers at Willey & Chamberlain to handle your state or federal criminal case.