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Criminal defendants are granted numerous rights under the state and federal constitutions to ensure that they receive a fair trial. For example, they have the right to confront any witnesses who testify against them. There are some exceptions to this general rule, however, as demonstrated in a recent opinion in a matter in which the defendant argued the court admitted inappropriate evidence in his domestic violence trial. If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, it is smart to confer with a Michigan criminal defense attorney regarding your rights.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with domestic violence, which was his third such offense. During the trial, the prosecution read testimony offered by the defendant’s son in the preliminary examination in another domestic violence matter involving the defendant. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to thirteen to fifteen years in prison. He then filed an appeal, arguing among other things that the trial court erred in admitting his son’s testimony, as it violated his constitutional right to confront a witness against him.

The Right to Confront Witnesses in a Criminal Matter

On appeal, the court explained that a trial court’s determination that evidence is admissible will not be overturned absent an abuse of discretion. An abuse of discretion occurs when a court makes a decision that is outside of the range of principled and reasonable outcomes or commits an error of law.

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In People of the State of Michigan v. Tiffany Lynn Richard, Michigan Supreme Court ruled today that a defendant may assert a duress defense against a felony-murder charge.

What Happened in the Case?

The defendant Tiffany Richard was charged with open murder, essentially under a felony-murder theory, with the underlying felony being armed robbery. Ms. Richard agreed to help her boyfriend in a robbery. She knocked on the victim’s door to his home and was a lookout. Ms. Richard’s boyfriend went inside the house where he stabbed the victim. She then drove her boyfriend to his mother’s house, where she helped him dispose of his bloody clothing.

Ms. Richard claimed she helped her boyfriend because he had physically and sexually abused her in the past.

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