Michigan Sentencing "Tanner Rule"

This blog will discuss the two-thirds rule of Tanner and MCL 769.34(2)(b) with respect to sentencing in Michigan. Michigan has an indeterminate felony sentence structure; this means the sentence is not given a definite duration.  Rather, a prison term will state a range of time, such as “three to five years.”
The Tanner rule is a rule associated with sentencing in Michigan.  The rule dictates that the minimum term must not exceed two-thirds of the maximum sentence.  In 2006, the Michigan Supreme Court held the two-thirds rule does not apply when a defendant is convicted of a crime punishable with imprisonment for “life or any term of years” because the minimum will never exceed two-thirds of the statutory maximum sentence of life.  This was confirmed in another Supreme Court case in 2011.
This rule was discussed in a recent Michigan Court of Appeals case, People v. Bernard Antonio Ivory.  In that case, the trial judge set the defendant’s max sentence for his conviction at two hundred twenty-five (225) months to twenty (20) years, but then altered the maximum sentence to twenty-five (25) years to comply with the two-thirds rule of Tanner, per a Court of Appeals holding.
The defendant appealed the increased maximum sentence because his crime of assault with intent to murder is a life offense.  The defendant based this appeal on the fact that the two-thirds rule does not apply to life offenses.  Therefore, the Court of Appeal’s ruling regarding the Tanner violation was incorrect.  There was no Tanner violation in the original sentencing range.  The Court of Appeals eventually applied the original sentence of two hundred twenty-five months to twenty years.
Sentencing in Michigan is very complex with multiple issues to explore.  If you or a loved one is charged with a criminal offense, feel free to contact our office to discuss your options.


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