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Legal experts weigh in on the sentencing of Montana’s newly-elected congressman

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BOZEMAN -

Legal experts weigh in on the sentencing of Montana’s newly-elected congressman Greg Gianforte after he was given 6 months of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a fine for assaulting a reporter.

But would this have been the same sentence for anyone else? Legal experts say yes.

"There really was nothing unusual about the case on one hand a typical defendant for an assault charge with no criminal history it's going to probably get very similar," Andrew King-Ries, UM Law School associate dean.

Andrew King-Ries, UM School of Law associate deans says Judge Rick West had a big decision with national attention.

"If you hammer Mr. Gianforte or are you in a way that you normally wouldn't handle defendants it seems like you're being unruly or harsh on him and probably unfair, whereas on the other side people are concerned that he's getting some kind of special treatment," said King-Ries.

King-Ries says this is pretty typical move for Judge West.

"For Judge West you would find his typical pattern for first-time offenders with no criminal history would be to give them the opportunity to end up with a clean record to show the court that this is a one time mistake," said King-Ries.

Normally for a case like this King-Ries says there isn't any jail time.

"Legislature has expressed and desire that we don't have as many misdemeanor offenses or offenders in car serrated it's expensive and they've expressed a desire to have more people in that situation doing community service"

Gianforte in the end received a deferred sentence which means if Gianforte completes his conditions in six months he's able to come back petition and withdraw his guilty plea and have it dismissed.

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