Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

Drug crimes typically carry significant penalties, and people convicted of such offenses may be sentenced to decades in prison. In some instances, though, a person serving a significant sentence for a drug crime may be able to argue for compassionate release. Demonstrating that such relief is warranted can be difficult, however, as demonstrated in a recent Michigan case. If you are charged with a drug crime, it is smart to speak to a Michigan drug crime defense attorney regarding your options for protecting your interests.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that in 2013, the defendant was charged with and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment, which was the mandatory minimum sentence. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the defendant’s prison, he moved for compassionate release. In support of his motion, he argued that his pre-existing health conditions and the fact that the First Step Act reduced the minimum sentence for similar crimes constituted compelling and extraordinary reasons that warranted an early release. He also noted that he had not garnered any infractions in prison and had completed his education. The district court nonetheless denied his motion. He then appealed.

Factors Weighed in Evaluating a Request for Compassionate Release

The appellate court found the district court’s analysis of the federal sentencing factors to be sufficient to affirm its ruling. The appellate court noted that the district court weighed the relevant sentencing factors, including the defendant’s criminal history and the characteristics of his crime, and found that they weighed heavily against granting relief. Specifically, it noted he frequently committed crimes while on supervision or parole and had an extensive criminal past. Continue Reading ›

In Michigan, assault crimes range from misdemeanors to felonies, and the severity of a charge depends on numerous factors. For example, a person that brandishes a weapon during an attack may be accused of a felonious assault. In many instances, the circumstances surrounding an altercation are disputed, and the State will use witness testimony to establish guilt. As such, if a defendant can demonstrate a witness lacks credibility, the jury may be less inclined to believe the person. Recently, a Michigan court discussed the grounds for impeaching a witness in a criminal case in a matter in which a defendant appealed her felonious assault conviction. If you are charged with assault, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Michigan criminal defense attorney to determine your options.

The Subject Assault

It is reported that the defendant, her niece, and her niece’s boyfriend went to the movies together and then returned to the defendant’s home. Their accounts of what transpired after they entered the defendant’s house differed, however. Specifically, the niece and her boyfriend stated the defendant began paranoid and accused them of stealing things, and while waving a knife around, the defendant cut her niece’s hand.

Allegedly, the defendant advised that her niece and her niece’s boyfriend stole multiple items, and she picked up the knife to scare them into giving them back when she cut her niece. She was charged with felonious assault. Her niece and her niece’s boyfriend gave their accounts of what occurred at trial, and a jury found the defendant guilty as charged. She appealed, arguing in part that her counsel was ineffective. Continue Reading ›

In attempting to establish a defendant’s guilt, the State will frequently try to introduce evidence of a scheme or motive. There are restrictions as to what is admissible, however. For example, in most instances, the State cannot introduce evidence of other crimes to show a defendant’s guilt. This was demonstrated in a recent Michigan case in which the court ruled that evidence of other crimes was inadmissible in a case in which the defendant is charged with first-degree murder. If you are charged with murder or any other violent crime, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney about your rights.

The History of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant’s co-worker, who per eyewitness reports was last seen with the defendant, was missing. The police began investigating her disappearance and questioned the defendant. He advised them that he was working when she disappeared, even though he was not. Thus, the police became suspicious of the defendant and obtained a warrant to search his apartment. As part of the search, they performed a DNA analysis that indicated the presence of the skin cells on the defendant’s rug.

Allegedly, the State charged the defendant with the first-degree murder of the co-worker solely due to the DNA evidence. Before the trial, the prosecution filed a motion in limine asking the court to permit the introduction of evidence that the defendant had a prior conviction for strangling and attempting to rape another woman. The defense attorney argued such information was inadmissible other acts evidence, which would be used to unjustly indicate the defendant’s propensity to commit crimes. The trial court found in favor of the defendant, and the State appealed. Continue Reading ›

Home invasion is a serious charge that can result in a lengthy jail sentence. Establishing guilt in a home invasion case requires the prosecution to show that the defendant entered another person’s home without permission. Thus, if the defendant can establish that he or she had consent prior to entering, the jury should issue a verdict of not guilty. In many instances, the only evidence of the defendant’s permission is his or her own account of events. Recently, a Michigan court discussed a defendant’s right to testify in a home invasion case, in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction. If you are accused of a home invasion or other criminal offenses, it is smart to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney about your options.

The Alleged Invasion

Allegedly, the defendant shared custody of his minor child with the victim. During a custody exchange, he confronted the victim about his belief that she was dating another man. She went back into her house, and he pursued her, yelling and asking for her phone. She had hidden her phone in her pants on other occasions, and therefore the defendant pulled down her pants to look for it. When he could not find the phone, he digitally penetrated her.

It is reported the defendant was charged with home invasion and criminal sexual conduct. During the trial, the victim testified that the defendant did not have permission to enter her home on the night of the incident. The jury convicted the defendant and he appealed, arguing in part that he was denied the right to testify for his defense. Continue Reading ›

In criminal proceedings, the prosecution’s aim is to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors must comply with the law, however, and if they engage in misconduct during a trial, it might constitute grounds for arguing a conviction or sentence is unlawful. Recently, a Michigan court discussed the standard of review for claims that prosecutorial misconduct warrants relief in a case in which the defendant filed a petition of habeas corpus following his conviction for criminal sexual conduct. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with engaging in acts of sexual penetration with his minor daughter. He was tried for first-degree criminal sexual misconduct, and during the trial, the prosecutor commented on the defendant’s lifestyle and romantic encounters. The jury convicted the defendant, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the prosecutor’s comments were improper and unduly prejudicial, which warranted a new trial.

It is reported that the appellate court rejected the defendant’s arguments and affirmed his conviction, after which he filed a petition of habeas corpus, asserting that the appellate court applied the incorrect standard for adjudicating claims of prosecutorial misconduct. Continue Reading ›

In Michigan, assault crimes range in severity, and the offense a defendant is charged with depends on the circumstances surrounding the alleged attack. Many assault crimes require the State to prove the defendant’s intent at the time the offense was committed, and if it cannot, the defendant may be able to argue that a lesser charge is appropriate. Recently, a Michigan court issued an opinion explaining jury instructions for lesser included offenses in assault cases, in a matter in which it ultimately determined that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury per the defendant’s request. If you are charged with an assault crime, it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Michigan criminal defense lawyer to assess your potential defenses.

Procedural History of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Prior to trial, he filed a motion asking the court to instruct the jury on the crime of assault and battery on the grounds that it was a lesser-included offense of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. He further asserted that a rational view of the evidence supported the instruction.

It is reported that during the oral argument the court held on the motion, the prosecution conceded that assault and battery was a lesser included offense of assault with intent to do great bodily harm but objected to the instruction regardless on the basis that the intent element of the charged offense was not disputed, as the defense argued that no assault occurred. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and he was convicted as charged. The defendant appealed, but his conviction was upheld. He then appealed to the Supreme Court of Michigan. Continue Reading ›

Typically, when the police believe that someone is trafficking narcotics, they will conduct a thorough investigation, which often includes obtaining a warrant to search the individual’s home or vehicle. The police must have reasonable suspicion that a person is engaging in criminal activity to obtain a warrant, however, and if they do not, the search conducted under the warrant may be deemed unconstitutional. In a recent Michigan opinion, a court discussed what constitutes sufficient grounds to grant a warrant in a case in which the defendant was charged with several drug crimes. If you are accused of a drug offense, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your options.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the police obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home and vehicle based on the belief that he was selling drugs. Following the investigation, the State charged the defendant with multiple drug and weapons crimes. He then moved to suppress the evidence obtained via the search warrant on the grounds that it was overly broad and did not contain adequate evidence to establish probable cause. The court granted the motion and dismissed the charges against the defendant. The State subsequently appealed, arguing that the trial court applied an improper standard in evaluating whether the warrant should have been granted.

Probable Cause Sufficient to Justify a Search Warrant

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures and states that warrants will not be issued without probable cause, supported by affidavits that describe in detail the place that will be searched and the things that will be seized. The Michigan Constitution contains a similar provision that has been construed as providing the same protections as the Fourth Amendment. Continue Reading ›

It is generally known that people who are charged with crimes cannot be forced to testify in their own defense. Many people are unaware, though, that although defendants cannot be compelled to defend themselves against the prosecutions’ allegations, they do have a constitutional right to present a defense, and if this right is violated, it may constitute grounds for a new trial. In a recent opinion issued in an assault case, a Michigan court discussed what an appellate court evaluates to determine whether a trial court violated a defendant’s right to present a defense. If you are accused of assault, you should meet with a Michigan criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous assault crimes following an altercation with his girlfriend and aunt. The defendant admitted that there was an argument but asserted that his aunt and girlfriend conspired to fabricate allegations against him. His aunt, however, stated that he attempted to stab her, gouged her face, and pointed a BB gun at her head, and his girlfriend testified that the defendant threw her to the ground and threatened her with a knife. A jury ultimately found the defendant guilty as charged. He appealed, arguing in part that the trial court violated his constitutional right to present a defense by excluding testimony regarding other acts.

The Right to Present a Defense

Upon reviewing the evidence, the appellate court denied the defendant’s appeal. The court explained that in order to preserve the issue of whether a trial court’s evidentiary ruling denied a defendant the right to offer a defense, the defendant has to raise the issue before the trial court. In the subject case, the defendant failed to argue at trial that the testimony in question was admissible under the Michigan Rules of Evidence or that the failure to admit such testimony denied him of the right to set forth a defense. Continue Reading ›

Many theft crimes involve an element of intent. In other words, in order for the State to prove the defendant’s guilt, it must show that the defendant willfully took the property of another person or entity. In a recent opinion, a Michigan court explained the evidence needed to prove a defendant committed theft from an Indian gaming establishment, which in the case in question was charged as a misdemeanor crime. If you are charged with a theft crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable Michigan criminal defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Charges Against the Defendant

It is reported that the defendants were charged with theft from an Indian gaming establishment, and aiding and abetting such theft, in violation of federal law. The defendants entered into a stipulation with the prosecution in which they agreed that each element of the alleged offenses had been satisfied except for one. Thus, the prosecution merely had to establish that the defendants stole funds, money, or property that belonged to an Indian gaming establishment. The matter ultimately proceeded to a bench trial, after which the court concluded that the prosecution had proven the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Evidence Needed to Establish Guilt in a Theft Case

Under the applicable law, anyone that takes and carries away or willfully misapplies any property or money that belongs to an establishment licensed or operated by an Indian tribe that is valued at $1,000 or less can be fined or imprisoned. As such, to convict a person of theft from an Indian gaming establishment, the Government must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant willfully took or misapplied property or money that belonged to an Indian establishment with the intent to steal. Continue Reading ›

Historically, people convicted of some drug crimes faced harsher penalties than those convicted of others. In an effort to remedy this disparity, Congress passed a law known as the First Step Act that allowed for sentence reductions when certain factors were met. Recently, in an opinion delivered in a drug offense case, a Michigan court explained what a defendant must show to demonstrate eligibility for a reduced sentence under the First Step Act. If you are charged with a drug crime, you could face significant penalties, and it is prudent to meet with a skillful Michigan criminal defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Sentencing

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of conspiracy with the intent to distribute controlled substances, using a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, tax evasion, possessing cocaine with an intent to distribute, and engaging in a continuous criminal enterprise in the late 1980s. He was sentenced to a term of life in prison and five years of supervised release. He appealed, and his conviction for conspiracy was vacated, and his sentence was reduced. He then sought a further reduction of his sentence under the First Step Act.

Eligibility for a Reduced Sentence under the First Step Act

At the time the defendant was sentenced, crimes involving crack cocaine were treated more harshly than those related to powder cocaine. To address this sentencing disparity, in 2010, Congress issued the Fair Sentencing Act. The provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act were not retroactive; however, so in 2018 Congress passed the First Step Act. Continue Reading ›

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