Skip to Main Content
Blogs | December 15, 2015
2 minute read

Trial courts obligated to resolve challenged victim impact statement in PSIR

In People v. Maben, No. 321732, the Court of Appeals held that a trial court must resolve a defendant’s challenge to victim statements contained in a presentence investigation report (“PSIR”) that go beyond describing the subjective impact of a defendant’s actions on a victim. The Court reiterated the significance of the PSIR, as it can affect the security classification or parole considerations of a defendant. Consequently, a defendant must be given an “opportunity to explain, or challenge the accuracy or relevancy of, any information in the presentence report.” MCR 6.425(E)(1)(b). While unchallenged information in the PSIR is presumed accurate, a court deciding to disregard challenged information must state that it did not consider the challenged information when determining the sentence and then strike it from the PSIR.

The defendant, who admitted to strangling his brother, filed 15 objections to the content of the PSIR largely relating to statements attributed to his brother. The trial court, however, refused to resolve the dispute stating that it lacked authority to strike allegations in a victim’s impact statement and that the PSIR is presumptively accurate. In holding that the trial court abused its discretion, the Court of Appeals noted that the presumption of accuracy only applies to unchallenged statements, so no presumption applied to the statements in question here. Further, the challenged statements went beyond the impact of the defendant’s conduct on the victim subjectively. The Court held that a trial court need not strike a victim’s statement about the impact of a defendant’s crime merely because a defendant disputes the statements. However, the challenged statements in this case addressed independent acts allegedly done by the defendant, not the brother’s subjective statements about the impact of the defendant’s crime. Thus, the defendant was entitled to challenge the accuracy of the information contained in the PSIR, and the trial court abused its discretion by not adequately resolving this challenge. The Court of Appeals also held that the trial court did not err when it scored the defendant’s offense variable.