RHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE A Practice Manual – Proportionality

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RI Criminal Defense Practice Manual CoverRHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE
A Practice Manual, 4th Edition
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McKinney v. State, 843 A.2d 463, 470 (R.I. 2004). To determine whether the gravity of the offense is commensurate with the harshness of the sentence the court must consider the following, “the nature of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, the state legislature’s intent when it classified the crime, and the state’s public safety interest in incapacitating recidivists. While these factors guide our analysis, this list is not exhaustive. We also consider [whether the defendant] consented to the sentence in [the] plea agreement.”

State v. Monteiro, 924 A.2d 784 (R.I. 2007). Statute requiring mandatory, consecutive life sentences for first-degree murder and using a firearm while committing a crime of violence resulting in death did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the United States Constitution or the state constitution.

A constitutional violation under the Eighth Amendment’s proportionality principle “will be found only in extreme circumstances in which the sentence is grossly disproportionate to the offenses for which defendant stands convicted.” If that high threshold is met, only then will the court consider a “comparison of the defendant’s sentence to similarly situated defendants.” Id. at 795.
The burden is on the defendant to show that the sentence is “manifestly excessive.”

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