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Could Dunnings Avoid Prison Despite His Felony Conviction?

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It has been more than four months since former Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III resigned from office in the wake of a sex crime scandal. Having been arrested and charged with pandering, prostitution and misconduct in office, he later accepted a plea bargain that got rid of similar charges in other counties and reduced the number of charges he was facing in Ingham County in Lansing. Now it appears that there may be complications.

 

According to court records, Dunning’s advisory sentencing guidelines call for no more than three months in jail. However, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, they intend to ask for a considerably longer sentence – approximately three to five years. The reason for this is because Misconduct in Office is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. As the minimum sentence can’t be set any higher than two-thirds of the state’s statutory maximum sentence, three to five years is the most that can occur.

 

In their request to the court, the Attorney General’s Office wrote, “Due to the severity of the defendant’s conduct, his abuse of the public’s trust, his exploitation of victims of crime whom he publicly pledged to protect, and the fact that the sentencing guidelines fail to account for these and the factors discussed (in this memorandum). The People respectfully request that the Court sentence the defendant to 40 months to 5 years imprisonment in the Michigan Department of Corrections.”

 

It remains to be seen what Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah chooses to do. Although the case is being tried in an Ingham County court, all of the Ingham County judges recused themselves due to their previous working relationships with Dunnings. As such, Judge Farah was assigned to the case. If he chooses to, Judge Farah can sentence Dunnings to serve time in jail or prison, require that he pay fines or restitution or both, and insist on probation. Any or all, or a combination of these, are all options.

 

Despite all the option available, the sentencing hearing was recently postponed. Dunnings was scheduled to be sentenced on November 10, 2016. However, at the request of Dunnings’ defense attorney, Judge Farah delayed the hearing till November 22, 2016. The reason cited by the attorney was that there was new evidence available to substantiate the fact that Dunnings was in fact in a lasting relationship with his alleged victim. This would undermine the allegations of prostitution that Dunnings is facing.

 

According to court records, Dunnings is accused of sexually exploiting a woman who came to him for help. The prosecutor’s office intends to prove that Dunnings paid the woman in question for sex. The money he gave her, it is alleged, was used to pay for methadone, rent, and even a YMCA membership. But according to Dunnings’ defense attorney, the woman was actually in a several months long relationship with Dunnings as his mistress.

 

Dunnings’ defense attorney says that Dunnings was simply looking for a mistress, not a prostitute. “This is seduction of a married woman. She had relations with my client on three occasions and (he) paid her rent for three to four months. That’s all.” he explained to the court. But Judge Farah claims that he doubts the relationship was anything more than sex in return for money. “I don’t see anything about flowers or candy or meeting the kids.” The judge said in response, “It was ‘I’ll pay you for sex.’ How is that a seduction of a married woman?”

 

It remains to be seen what evidence Dunning’s attorney will be providing for the court and whether or not the judge will accept it. We will continue to monitor this case, which has received a considerable amount of media coverage given the fact that it involves a former prosecuting attorney, and keep you updated.

 

However, in the event that you or a loved one have been accused of a crime in Michigan, whether it is a sex crime or not, call us immediately at 866-766-5245. The attorneys at the Kronzek Firm have decades of experience handling sex crimes, violent crimes, white collar crimes, and all manner of other criminal charges. Don’t entrust your future to a weak or inexperienced defense attorney. Your freedom and your family’s future are at stake.

 

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