Mike Brandt’s client was charged with two counts of Criminal Vehicular Homicide stemming from a tragic accident occurring in November of 2015 in Anoka County, Minnesota. Mike’s client, who had worked an overnight shift at his job, had stopped and consumed a few cocktails with a coworker at breakfast. He spent some time at the coworker’s house playing video games and later, while driving home, fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the center line, causing a head-on collision, which resulted in an elderly couple perishing. Because of the accident, the police obtained a search warrant for a sample of blood from the client. The warrant was executed and revealed that at the time of the accident, the alcohol level of Mike’s client was right at the legal limit of .08. Unfortunately, the alcohol combined with the poor driving made this a very difficult case to defend.
In addition to the severity of the charges, another dynamic made the situation very challenging. Because of the charge, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines provided that Mike’s client should be sentenced to prison for at least four years. Mike’s client was an honored military veteran, married, steadily employed, and had no prior criminal history. Rather than risk a trial, Mike’s client chose to enter into a negotiated settlement whereby Mike brought a motion to the court to depart from the sentencing guidelines and place his client on probation as opposed to prison.
In preparation for the sentencing hearing, Mike filed a motion with the court asking the judge to depart from the sentencing guidelines and place Mike’s client on probation. At the sentencing hearing, the court received very emotional testimony from the children and grandchildren of the victims. Mike’s client had several people address the court and Mike’s client addressed the judge himself. After hearing all of this information, the judge noted that in nearly 10 years as a judge, this was one of the most difficult cases he had ever dealt with. Notwithstanding the challenging nature of the case, the judge granted Mike’s motion to depart from the guidelines and placed Mike’s client on probation rather than send him to prison.
The judge imposed numerous conditions of probation and ordered that Mike’s client serve 360 days in jail by serving 10 individual segments of 36 days. However, the judge did order that, if Mike’s client brings a motion each year to forgive that year’s segment, the judge will consider forgiving that year’s 36-day segment.
While this was an extremely challenging case, Mike was successful in convincing a judge that prison was not the appropriate sentence for his client.