Monday, December 10, 2007
Things are happening so fast today that it's hard to keep up. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick received a 23-month prison term, at the higher end of the Sentencing Guidelines range. The sentencing played out along the same lines as two co-defendants in the dog fighting case, who also were sentenced on the higher end of the Guidelines to 18 and 21 months. Interestingly, while one co-defendant had a prior criminal record that would usually trigger a longer sentence, Vick received the longest term so far, by two months. The district court's Sentencing Minutes (available below) indicate that U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson rejected Vick's request for a reduction in the applicable Guidelines range based on his acceptance of responsibility, which is usually granted in cases in which the defendant pleads guilty. Vick also surrendered in advance to begin serving his expected prison term, but that was insufficient to persuade the Judge that he had truly accepted responsibility for his conduct. The denial of the two-level reduction probably kept Vick from falling in the 12-18 month range under the Sentencing Table.
A 23-month sentence means that Vick will have to serve about 20 months in prison because he will most likely receive a 15% good time reduction under the Bureau of Prisons rules. In addition, he could be released to a half-way house for the last part of his term, so he could be out of a federal correctional institution by June 1, 2009, or thereabouts. While residing in a half-way house he could begin training for the upcoming football season. Vick was also sentenced to a three-year term of supervised release, but the only significant conditions there are that he undertake a drug/alcohol abuse program -- recall that he tested positive for marijuana while awaiting sentencing -- and not acquire any dogs. So Vick may be able to point to returned for the 2009 NFL season, assuming Commissioner Roger Goodell's suspension does not stretch into that season. Will an NFL team take a chance on Vick? Given the state of quarterback play this past weekend, I think you can count on it. (ph)