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People v. Stevens

Court of Appeals of Michigan

November 29, 2016

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MONICA MARIE STEVENS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Shiawassee Circuit Court LC No. 14-006595-FH

          Before: Ronayne Krause, P.J., and O'Connell and Gleicher, JJ.

          GLEICHER, J.

         A jury convicted Monica Stevens of third-offense operating while intoxicated, MCL 257.625. The trial court departed upward from the guidelines and sentenced Stevens to 22 to 90 months' imprisonment. The court also ordered defendant to pay a total of $1, 472, including $774 in court costs. We now remand for proportionality review as required by People v Steanhouse, 313 Mich.App. 1, 46-49; 880 N.W.2d 297 (2015), and for the trial court to articulate a factual basis for its imposition of costs.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On the evening of September 20, 2014, a passerby found Stevens behind the driver's seat of her vehicle, which was in a ditch alongside a roadway. Stevens admitted that she had been drinking for approximately nine hours. The Good Samaritan testified that Stevens smelled strongly of alcohol, was slurring her speech, and stumbled her way out of the vehicle. A responding officer reported that Stevens failed several field sobriety tests, and a breathalyzer test indicated that her blood alcohol level was .25. Stevens denied that she drove that evening. She testified that she fell asleep at her ex-husband's house and awoke in her car with no memory of how she got there. She claimed that her ex-husband drove her to the scene and then placed her in the driver's seat. The jury rejected this explanation and convicted Stevens as charged.

         Before sentencing, the Department of Corrections scored all applicable offense and prior record variables and determined that Stevens' then-mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines range was 0 to 13 months. The trial court departed upward from the guidelines, sentencing Stevens to 22 to 90 months' imprisonment. In doing so, the court explained:

Miss Stevens, I spent a lot of time on your case, and the Court staff will tell you that I took great care into fashioning a Sentence for you that I think is appropriate, and I don't think zero to 13 adequately handles this matter. I think that your matter presents substantial and compelling reasons to depart upwards from the recommended guideline range. Your prior record variables are scored at 15 points based on two prior misdemeanor convictions and two prior low severity convictions. The guidelines in your case . . . don't adequately account for the following factors that the Court relies on in performing an upward departure.
You've had two previous convictions of OUIL Third. This is your third, third. You've had extensive histories of alcohol related crimes, Miss Stevens. You've had a total of five OUILs, with a sixth that was dismissed in September of the year 2000. As I already mentioned, your blood alcohol level was [.]29.[1] The legal limit in the State of Michigan is [.]08, you were over three times the legal limit.
What's important is that this is your third felony for drunk driving, that's what's important.
Your previous and persistent failure to rehabilitate is important. Five previous courses of substance abuse counseling, four of which says you completed and were successful, yet you returned to drinking. Your prospects for rehabilitation are further lowered based on the fact that you've undergone community service for OUIL, work release, tether, and jail time. These previous sanctions along with the treatment that we've already talked about, has little positive effect on you, Miss Stevens.
You admit no responsibility in your description of this offense. In fact, you've argued that you're framed. I'm not basing your Sentence on this, not at all. I'm just pointing it out so this record reflects that, well, it further supports that rehabilitation is not a likely outcome. You're unlikely to rehabilitate, because you don't believe that you've done anything wrong. That suggests the need to emphasize punishment, and to protect society as primary goals for this Sentence.
And Miss Stevens, any one of these factors that this court just placed on the record would keenly and irresistibly grab this Court's attention to the extent that the Court would be compelled to depart upward.
The Sentence I'm imposing is more proportional to this offense, because it accurately reflects the aggravating factors I've already discussed, and the need to impose a more ...

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