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Delay of Sentence MCL 771.1

What is a delay of sentence? 

Under Michigan law, MCL 771.1, or more commonly known as a delay of a sentence, is a special tool that allows a judge to place a person on a period of probation and if that person successfully completes probation the case is either reduced, or more commonly dismissed. 

Having the case ultimately dismissed allows a person to go on with their life without a criminal conviction. When filling out job and school application, if a questions asks if they have been convicted of a crime, they can answer “no”. 

How does a delay of sentence work? 

A delay of sentence is typically used as a negotiation tool. When someone is accused of a crime they have the option of going to trial to challenge the allegation or they can admit guilt to the allegation. 

Even in cases where guilt may be obvious, a good criminal lawyer is going to try to negotiate some kind of plea deal to get a lessor sentence, or a reduction to a less serious charge. 

A delay of sentence is one of the things a good lawyer may try to negotiate. This allows a person to enter a plea of guilt to resolve the case and avoid a trial with the promise of ultimately earning a dismissal or reduction with good behavior. 

A delay of sentence can be used in both misdemeanor and felony cases. Usually, a delay of sentence results in a dismissal but it can also result in a reduction. For example, we have had cases where a person is charged with a felony and as a result of the delay of sentence their case is reduced to a misdemeanor after completing probation. 

Delay of sentence limitations

A delay of sentence cannot be used in all criminal cases. Murder, treason, criminal sexual conduct in the first and third degree, armed robbery, and major controlled substance offenses are excluded under the delay of sentence statute MCL 771.1(1). 

In order to get a reduction or dismissal the prosecuting attorney as well as the judge must agree to grant the delay of sentence. 

A delay of sentence cannot last more than one year. MCL 771.1(2). This means that the probationary period for a delay of sentence must be one year or less. 

Some judges will limit a delay of sentence to first time offenders, but it is not a requirement that a person be a first time offender in order to get the benefit of a delay of sentence. While it is not easy, our office has been able to negotiate a delay of sentence for second and even third time offenders. 

What happens if I violate probation on a delay of sentence? 

It is ultimately up to the judge, but if you violate your probation on a delay of sentence a judge can take the privilege away and the conviction will stay on your record. 

Michigan Criminal Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime, call Michigan criminal lawyer, Aaron J. Boria (734) 453-7806. We fight for our clients and do everything we can to get them the absolute best result possible.