Articles Posted in Criminal Law and Procedure

Just because a person is convicted of a crime does not mean that they no longer have any recourse. Instead, there are often numerous avenues a party can explore in search of a favorable outcome. For example, a person who believes they are being unlawfully detained in prison can file a petition for habeas corpus. While typically, a prisoner will want to obtain a resolution to a habeas corpus case as soon as possible, in some instances, it may be prudent for them to seek a stay while other claims are pending. This was illustrated in a recent ruling issued by a Michigan federal court in which it found that a stay was appropriate until the prisoner’s petitions for remedies in state court were resolved. If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is smart to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney about your options for seeking a just result.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the prisoner filed a habeas corpus petition in which he challenged his plea-based assault and weapons offense convictions. In part, he asserted that the state trial court committed an abuse of discretion when it denied his motion to withdraw his plea of no contest. The court ordered the state to file a response to the prisoner’s petition, but before the state responded, the prisoner moved for a stay of proceedings and to have his petition in abeyance so that he could exhaust his state remedies with regard to four other claims.

Grounds for Granting a Stay and Abeyance

The court ultimately found that a stay was appropriate and granted the prisoner’s motion. The court explained that the doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies requires that state prisoners allow the state courts to respond to their claims before they present the claims to a federal court via a habeas corpus petition. This obligation is satisfied if the prisoner invokes a complete round of the state’s process if appellate review, which includes a request for a discretionary review if that is part of the typically appellate procedure in the state. Continue Reading ›

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted most facets of society, including those individuals that are currently incarcerated. Many people in prison have a higher risk of suffering severe illness due to COVID-19 and are justifiably concerned regarding the threats posed by the virus. Some individuals may be eligible for compassionate release, but demonstrating such release is warranted is difficult, as noted in a recent Michigan opinion issued in a case in which the defendant was convicted of a weapons offense. If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to determine your options for seeking a favorable result.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of federal law. He had an extensive history of criminal convictions, including felony convictions for assault and delivery and possession of drugs. He pleaded guilty to the firearms charge and was sentenced to 46 months in prison. He began serving his sentence in January 2019. The defendant filed two motions for compassionate release. He withdrew the first, and the second was denied. He then filed a third motion for compassionate release, which was also denied.

Grounds for Compassionate Release

Pursuant to the First Step Act, a district court can consider motions filed by incarcerated defendants asking for reductions in their sentences. In determining whether to grant a compassionate release motion, a court has to engage in a three-part analysis. First, it must find that compelling and extraordinary reasons warrant a reduced sentence. The court must then ensure that the reduction complies with the applicable policy statements issued by the sentencing commission. Finally, the court must weigh all relevant statutory sentencing factors. If the court finds that each requirement is met, it may reduce a prison sentence but is not required to do so. Continue Reading ›

In Michigan, people can be charged with harboring the intent to commit certain crimes. If a defendant is charged with such a crime, the prosecution must demonstrate the defendant’s mental status at the time of the alleged offense, and if it cannot, the defendant should be found not guilty. The evidence needed to prove an unlawful intent crime was the topic of a recent opinion delivered by a Michigan court in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for intent to commit arson. If you are accused of committing illegal acts, it is smart to speak to a trusted Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Alleged Acts

It is reported that the police were dispatched to the home of the victim due to reports of domestic abuse. When they arrived, they found the defendant inside the victim’s home with her children. He refused to vacate the home and spilled lighter fluid throughout the residence. Police followed the defendant to the second floor of the home, where he reported he had gasoline and he was going to torch the house.

Allegedly he kept asking the officers for a lighter or lit cigarette. At one point, though, he stated he was not going to set a fire. The defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including intent to commit arson. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing that the prosecution lacked adequate evidence to support his conviction. Continue Reading ›

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has been issuing orders concerning public gatherings and face masks since the beginning of the pandemic. The orders go into effect for a limited time, with the most recent being effective as of December 9th and to remain in effect through December 20th. However, we expect subsequent orders that are substantively identical to be implemented so long as the pandemic continues. 

Many people are unaware that these orders are enforceable by the police and that failure to comply can result in criminal charges. If you have questions concerning the order and how it may apply to you or have been charged with a violation, an Ann Arbor criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate these issues. 

What the Emergency Orders Require

The orders essentially do two things: 

People who have been arrested or have a criminal record are often worried about what a potential employer can ask during an interview. This is a complicated area of the law, and the answer to this question is unfortunately convoluted. An experienced Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney can guide what questions you may be required to answer and which questions you can legally decline. 

Misdemeanors Without a Conviction

Under Michigan law, potential employers may not ask you any questions concerning a misdemeanor arrest that did not result in a conviction. As a result, employers cannot ask you any questions concerning a misdemeanor arrest if your charges were dismissed or you were acquitted. 

There is one important exception – if you seek employment with a law enforcement agency, they can ask you questions concerning misdemeanor arrests that did not result in a conviction. 

While it’s true that a juvenile record doesn’t necessarily count against you as an adult, that doesn’t mean that your past charges can’t come back to haunt you. Potential employers, the military, and yes, even colleges may consider your juvenile record and hold it against you when making decisions that affect your future. An Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney can help you understand how these charges can affect your future and what you can do about it. 

Your Juvenile Record

It may be helpful to understand what charges may be considered by a college or other institutions. In Michigan, juvenile convictions are referred to as “adjudications.” An adjudication will include any of the following outcomes: 

  • You were charged with a crime, a trial was held, and you were convicted. 
  • You pled guilty to the charges when you were arraigned. 
  • You pled guilty as part of a plea agreement. 
  • You pled “no contest” to the charges.

If you were acquitted, it’s likely that the charges will not be considered, although there may be some exceptions. 

Not too long ago, the opioid crisis used to be a fixture on the front page of newspapers across the country and a regular feature on news programs. As a result of the pandemic, however, America seems to have forgotten all about the opioid crisis that has affected almost every state. According to Michigan state authorities, the use of opioids has surged during the pandemic, leading to a 26% increase in overdoses from April through June of this year. The month of April was especially brutal, reflecting a 33% increase in overdoses. 

Overdoses are a tragedy, but they overshadow the legal issues that plague addicts. For many opioid users, criminal charges don’t lead to recovery – they keep them using and often lead to other crimes. If you’re facing an opioid charge, an experienced Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney can help you get a positive outcome. 

Possession of Heroin or Fentanyl in Michigan

Generally speaking, the penalties you face for a drug charge is based on the type of drug and the amount. Drugs are classified on a schedule, with Schedule I drugs being considered the most dangerous, and schedule 5 being the least serious. Schedule I and II narcotics carry the harshest penalties. 

We may still be seeing the fallout from the lockdown order even though it’s been lifted. You might think that crime has declined, but the fact of the matter is that you could still face criminal charges even though you’ve never left your home. If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, your entire future is at stake. Don’t leave your life in the prosecution’s hands – contact an Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

Some of the Charges You Can Face in Michigan

There is a wide variety of sex crimes you can be charged with as a result of using the internet on your computer or smartphone:

  • Solicitation of a minor 
  • Indecent exposure
  • Child pornography
  • Solicitation of a prostitute
  • Lewd behavior

All of these are crimes independent of the internet, but the internet makes it easier to find yourself facing these charges. Nothing is what it seems on the internet – people lie about their age and their intentions all of the time. Child pornography can be hidden among other files. Regardless of the situation, you can be charged with a sex crime even if you had no intention of doing anything illegal. 

The phrase “during these uncertain times” has become a part of our daily lexicon. Although the stay at home order has been lifted, the Governor has stated that the state will continue to monitor the number of cases and will reimpose restrictions if necessary. Unfortunately, many of us remain in limbo. You may have lost your job or only be working part-time. Your children’s activities have been canceled and school has not yet resumed. With limited outlets for people’s time and energy, it’s only a matter of time before we see an increase in assault and battery charges. Should you find yourself in this situation, an Ann Arbor assault and battery lawyer can help you face your charges and fight for your rights. 

The Difference Between Assault and Battery

Assault and battery are named together so often that people think they are a single crime. This is not the case – assault and battery are actually to separate charges. The principal difference between assault and battery is as follows:

  • Assault is defined as the attempt to cause physical harm to another person, including threats of violence. This could include actions such as brandishing a weapon or making verbal threats. The victim merely has to demonstrate that they were in reasonable fear for their safety. 
  • Battery, on the other hand, is the actual infliction of physical harm. 

When there is actual harm, assault and battery are often charged together because the battery was typically preceded by an assault. 

There are numerous reports in the news concerning the rise in domestic violence that has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of Michigan’s lockdown order. Many worry that an upward trend in child abuse cases could be made worse as a result of the pandemic. It may take some time for these cases to come to light, but statistics aside, you need to take immediate action if you’ve been accused of child abuse. The best thing you can do is to contact an Ann Arbor domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible.  

Understanding the Charges You May Be Facing

Many people are shocked when they are charged with child abuse because they don’t realize how easily an allegation can lead to charges. This is because people don’t understand the laws that protect our children. Under Michigan law, there are four degrees of child abuse charges: 

  • First-degree child abuse: Knowingly or intentionally causing serious physical or mental harm to a child.
  • Second-degree child abuse:

(1) Causing serious physical or mental harm by way of omission.

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