In the sentencing phase of a criminal case, the goal of any defense attorney is to minimize the consequences imposed upon a defendant. This can include reducing or eliminating time spent in custody, a probationary term or the level of crime that a person has been convicted of. In many cases, defense attorneys will seek a departure for their client, which come in the form of durational departures and dispositional departures. The attorneys at The Law Office of John Leunig have successfully argued for departures to help their clients avoid prison time and to reduce the level of the conviction in order to avoid a felony conviction.

Minnesota’s Sentencing Guidelines establish presumed sentence lengths and presumed dispositions depending on the severity level of the offense and a defendant’s criminal history score. A motion for a downward departure is filed to argue for less severe consequences than those called for by the guidelines, while a motion for an upward departure is filed by a prosecutor to impose harsher penalties and prison term lengths.

A motion for a downward durational departure is a request to impose less prison time than is presumed under the sentencing guidelines. The nature and circumstances of the offense itself are closely analyzed and examined in crafting an argument to support a downward durational departure. Such a departure, if successfully argued, can also result in a conviction that would have otherwise been a felony being deemed a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor under Minnesota law. Avoiding a felony conviction from being recorded is of significant benefit to defendants as they attempt to move on with their life and obtain new employment and housing.

Disposition, in the context of the sentencing guidelines, refers to whether the guidelines presume that a prison sentence will be executed or not. When a sentence is executed, it means the person is ordered to serve the sentence, whereas if execution of the sentence is stayed the person is not required to serve the prison term. A motion for a downward dispositional departure is a request to prevent a person who the guidelines presume should go to prison from actually serving that prison term. In arguing a request for a dispositional departure, the law requires an evaluation of the personal characteristics of the offender and their amenability to probation. A successful motion for a downward departure is obviously highly beneficial to defendants because they can avoid serving years in prison, thereby limiting disruption to their life.

The attorneys at The Law Office of John J. Leunig have negotiated downward departures with prosecutors and have also persuaded judges to impose downward departures despite prosecutors vehemently objecting to any such leniency. This has helped the firm’s clients avoid lengthy prison terms that were otherwise presumed under the guidelines, as well as felony convictions in certain cases.

If you or a loved one are facing charges for a criminal offense, call the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of John Leunig, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 952-540-6800 for a free consultation.

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