Thursday, April 8, 2010

Out of State Convictions

Out of state convictions are very important. Out of state convictions will be counted against you in both State court and Federal court. This includes such convictions as DWI, DUI, or BUI (boating under the influence). You must be aware of your out of state convictions and make sure your attorney is also aware of what are your convictions and what are not. Sometimes the State may attribute crimes to you that are not your convictions.

Recently, I had a client that with his previous lawyer, went to prison when he never should have. Thankfully, we were able to correct the error avoid him having to serve more prison time.

My client's troubles all started with his previous attorney not reviewing and investigating the criminal history. In Minnesota a sentencing guideline grid is used. Along the left side of this grid are ranked offenses. Murder in the first degree is not included in this grid as that carries a life sentence without parole. The rankings start with the low level felonies such as the sale of a simulated controlled substance (level 1) all the way up to level XI (Murder 2nd degree). Along the top of the grid are your criminal history points, 0 - 6 or more. Depending upon the crime and your criminal history score, you may do local jail time if convicted, or prison time. Obviously, a lower criminal history score means less jail or prison time to serve.

My client had convictions from Cook County, Chicago, Illinois. The State of Minnesota relies upon information from other States to determine criminal history scores. This usually works well, as long as the counties and cities within the states maintain the same recording system. Unfortunately, that is not the case for Cook County and the State of Illinois. Cook County and the State of Illinois do not keep the same records, nor do these to governmental agencies record convictions the same way. The State of Illinois relies upon booking numbers for convictions. Cook County does not. Book numbers do not mean much in Cook County apparently. Cook County will book several people under the same booking number. If a group of people are arrested, they all get the same booking number in Cook County.

Well, one day my client was arrested for loitering with a group of people. Cook County gave them all the same booking number. One of the people in the group was then investigated and convicted of murder. The State of Illinois assigned everyone in the group a murder conviction because the State relied upon the booking number to determine who should receive the conviction. My client was assigned 2 criminal history points without even knowing it.

My client then moved to Minnesota. While in Minnesota he was arrested and convicted of a theft charge. This was a low level theft, a level two. In order to serve prison time, he would need to have a criminal history score of six. According to his records, he had a criminal history score of 7. That meant he should go to prison. He did go to prison and sat there for two years.

When I got involved with my client case, I went through his criminal history score with him. I came across the murder conviction in Illinois that said he served prison time for. My client insisted he never committed murder, was never convicted of murder and never spent time in an Illinois prison. As I investigate the matter, I found out what I described above. The next step was to clear up his criminal history score recorded in Minnesota. This is not an easy task. Once you agree to a criminal history score and do not challenge it, the score becomes the score. My client's former attorney did not challenge the criminal history score, but simply accepted the number the government said was accurate.

In the end, we were able to make sure my client did not serve more prison time. Unfortunately, he had to sit for two years to correct the mistake.

It is important that you discuss all aspects of your case with your attorney and that your attorney listens to you and educates you on your case. If you are in need of a free consultation, call Patrick Flanagan.




No comments:

Post a Comment