There are very mixed opinions out there about judicial leniency when it comes to sentencing. Some feel it shows a rare glimpse of kindness and humanity in the law, whereas others feel it undermines the legal system. But whatever your belief, one young man who recently received a greatly reduced sentence now has a chance to get his life back on track.
Last year in June, 22-year-old Jordan Dominguez Pinheiro of Macomb Township got behind the wheel of his car after consuming far too much alcohol and, as a result, caused a deadly car crash. 34-year-old Oliver Mitevski died as a result of the fatal crash, and Pinheiro was charged with operating while intoxicated causing death.
Pinheiro pled no contest to the charge, which is a 15 year felony under Michigan law. But where the state’s sentencing guidelines stipulate that his minimum sentence should have been 3 to 6 years, he received instead a sentence of one year in jail, and five years probation.
Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Mary Chrzanowski spoke at great length during the hearing regarding why she had chosen to display such leniency, and specified the many reasons she felt it was appropriate in this case.
Pinheiro, said the judge, had done everything the court required of him and more, since the night of the accident. His behavior was exemplary, and his remorse was deep. But another factor in her decision was the victim’s family.
Not only did they forgive Pinheiro, but they requested that he not be sent to jail, which would only result in another family losing a loved one. Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney involved in this case spoke of the incredible sympathy and kindness of Mitevski’s family in their dealings with Pinheiro.
However, in addition to the jail sentence and the five year probation period, Judge Chrzanowski ordered that Pinheiro continue to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice weekly while he was in jail and even for the year following his release, and that after his release he would be required to wear a tether for six months.
She also ordered that he complete 60 days of community service when his sentence had been served, and that he submit to random alcohol testings four times a month during the first year after his release, three times annually the year after that, and then twice monthly for the remainder of his probation.
While the restrictions may seem significant, they are mere shadows compared to the number of years that this young man will not be in prison. As experienced defense attorneys, we know Pinheiro has been given a rare and unexpected opportunity to have a future and the prospect of freedom. Let’s hope he chooses to do something good with this gift.