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Mich. Judge Go Too Far? Used Jalen Rose's DUI to 'Send a Message'

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 02, 2011 9:42 AM

Was Judge Kimberly Small of Michigan stepping beyond her judicial powers when she handed down Jalen Rose's DUI sentence? The judge recently sentenced the former NBA star and current ESPN analyst to 20 days behind bars.

It was Rose's first DUI. Rose does not plan to appeal his sentence, which is 93 days in jail, with 73 days held in abeyance if he completes his 12 months of probation.

Rose wanted to accept his punishment. Judge Small, on the other hand, said that she felt she needed to "send a message" with Rose's sentencing. Drunk driving is the cause of many traffic-related deaths a year, often claiming the lives of innocent bystanders.

But, Rose's sentencing does illustrate the wide discrepancy there is between states - and even within states - for drunk driving sentencing.

In Michigan, where Rose was sentenced, while the 93-day jail sentence is the maximum for first-time offenders, most first-time offenders get a sentence of 1 day in jail with community service.

In other states, like Wisconsin, first-time drunk driving is not even considered a crime, and is treated as a civil matter.

But, in most cases, a judge is allowed discretion in coming down with sentences. In Judge Small's case, she is already limited by a mandatory maximum sentence of 93 days, so she could not have sentenced Rose to a sentence higher than that number.

In determining a sentence, judges usually consider factors like the nature of the crime, the defendant's remorse (if any), or the defendant's criminal history, or lack thereof. It's usually up to the judge to use their discretion to weigh these factors in determining a sentence, up to the maximum or to the minimum imposed by law.

So, whether or not Judge Kimberly Small's decision of giving Jalen Rose's DUI a sentence of 20 days in jail was harsh or not, in the end she did not go beyond what the law allows.

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