Minnesota Sentencing Attorney - Dispositional Departure

Sentencing can often be the most important part of a criminal case for a defendant. Whether the defendant plead guilty or was found guilty at trial, sentencing is when the defendant finds out their criminal consequences. With prison on the line in felony cases, having a Minnesota sentencing attorney to file an appropriate departure motion and make convincing oral arguments is critical.

At the sentencing hearing, there are two types of departure motions a Minnesota sentencing attorney can present: a dispositional departure or durational departure. This blog will discuss a dispositional departure.

In major felony cases, the presumptive sentence is for time in prison – usually, numerous years in prison too. This is the presumption only, meaning that the presumption can be overcome when the sentencing attorney argues for a dispositional departure.

A dispositional departure asks the court to stay execution of the prison term and instead place the defendant on supervised probation with many terms and conditions of probation. So long as the defendant does not violate those terms and conditions, the defendant will not have to go to prison. Obviously, any defendant would want a Minnesota sentencing attorney to achieve this outcome. So, what must be proven to achieve this?

A dispositional departure requires that the defendant be “particularly amenable” to probation. Particular amenability essentially means that the defendant can be trusted to follow the orders of the court while on probation. The Court looks to a number of factors in making this decision: the defendant’s age, overall criminal record, remorse (or lack thereof), accountability for their actions, cooperation, attitude in court, any proactive steps towards rehabilitation, and a supportive network of family and friends (or lack thereof).

As you may be able to figure out, the analysis is supposed to focus primarily on the offender and what steps he or she has taken since the incident to prove to the Court that they are particularly amenable to probation. At the same time, though, the Court does balance these factors with the severity of the offense.

A Minnesota sentencing attorney must file a motion prior to sentencing arguing these factors – and others – to give the Court the information it needs to make its decision. Undoubtedly, there is a skill in knowing what information to have the Court focus on and what arguments to raise at the sentencing hearing. The combination can save the defendant from an otherwise dire outlook of going to prison.

North Star Criminal Defense has had incredible success in making these types of arguments to save a defendant from prison. For instance, following a conviction at trial with another defense attorney, the defendant’s family retained the North Star team primarily for an appeal of the conviction, but also in time to make the appropriate dispositional departure motion (though, the prospects for it were grim). Yet, that’s exactly what the North Star team accomplished – thus avoiding the difficult and lengthy appeals process because winning the dispositional departure was such a monumental win that voided the need to appeal the outcome.

Even if the defendant must plead guilty or is found guilty at trial, all is not lost. Sentencing is the last and often the most important fight. And with the right Minnesota sentencing attorney, prison can be avoided through the thoughtful and strong argument for a dispositional departure.