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One of the many rights the United States Constitution affords criminal defendants is the right to a trial before a jury of their peers. Parties do not have to exercise that right but can choose to be tried before a judge. The waiver of the right to a jury trial must be knowing and voluntary, however, otherwise, it may be invalid. In a recent Michigan ruling issued in an assault case, the court discussed what constitutes a voluntary waiver of the right to a jury trial. If you are charged with assault or any other crime, it is smart to talk to a Michigan criminal defense attorney about your rights.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and his girlfriend drove a friend to another part of the state so that the friend could sell methamphetamines. The drug purchasers believed they had been cheated and started following the defendant’s car after the transaction, and the parties engaged in multiple confrontations in two different parking lots. During the confrontations, the defendant pointed a gun at the purchasers.

It is reported that the purchasers contacted the police and advise them of the incident. The defendant was subsequently charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. He initially requested a jury trial but later asked for a bench trial, due to the fact that it would be conducted one month earlier than a jury trial. He was convicted and sentenced as a habitual offender to 30 months to 15 years in prison. He appealed. Continue Reading ›

When a person is charged of violating a Michigan criminal statute, the prosecution must prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. If the evidence the state offers at trial is insufficient to sustain a conviction, but a defendant is nonetheless found guilty, they may have grounds for filing an appeal. Recently, a Michigan court discussed what evidence is sufficient to convict a defendant for assault in a case in which the defendant’s appeal was ultimately denied. If you are accused of an assault offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a Michigan criminal defense attorney to assess what evidence may be used against you.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm while committing a felony. The charges arose out of an incident involving a minor, during which the defendant allegedly told the minor he would kill him and fired a gun at him. The defendant was convicted as charged, after which he appealed.

Sufficiency of Evidence Establishing Guilt for an Assault Crime

On appeal, the defendant argued that the evidence presented against him at trial was insufficient to sustain his conviction. The court ultimately disagreed and denied his appeal. In doing so, the court explained that sufficiency challenges are reviewed de novo. In reviewing the evidence in question, the court must view it in the light most favorable to the prosecution and evaluate whether a reasonable fact finder could determine that the prosecution established each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Continue Reading ›

Many criminal offenses include an element of intent. In other words, the prosecution must show that the defendant acted knowingly or intentionally in order to obtain a conviction. When the terms of a criminal statute are vague, however, it may be unclear what evidence is necessary to obtain a conviction. The United States Supreme Court recently clarified what mens rea the prosecution must establish to convict a doctor of disbursing controlled substances in an unauthorized matter in violation of federal law. If you are charged with a drug crime or any other federal offense, it is smart to meet with a Michigan criminal defense attorney to assess your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and numerous other pain management doctors were charged with and convicted of operating a medical practice that was essentially a racketeering enterprise in violation of federal law, including the Controlled Substances Act. At trial, the prosecution presented evidence that the defendant prescribed Schedule II drugs outside of the standard of care that applied to his practice and did so for their financial gain rather than the benefit of their patients. The defendant appealed his conviction, and the appellate court affirmed. The defendant then sought certiorari review.

The Mens Rea Needed to Convict a Defendant for Unauthorized Distribution of Controlled Substances

On appeal, the Court answered the question of whether a doctor that allegedly prescribed drugs outside of the usual scope of their professional practice should be convicted of unlawful distribution in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, despite the fact that they intended or reasonably believed that their prescriptions fell within the scope of their practice. Continue Reading ›

Pursuant to federal law, people convicted of violent crimes face greater penalties if they use firearms during the commission of the offense. Although federal law provides a definition for violent crimes, it is not always clear what offenses fall under the definition, and the issue often arises in federal courts. Recently, the United States Supreme Court provided some clarity on the matter by expressly holding that an attempted Hobbs Act robbery does not constitute a crime of violence. If you are charged with a violent offense, it is wise to talk to a Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and another individual attempted to rob a drug dealer. The drug dealer was shot during the incident. The government then charged the defendant with several crimes, including conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and attempted Hobbs Act robbery. Additionally, the defendant’s indictment asserted that both offenses were predicate crimes of violence. The defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and the use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

It is alleged that the government agreed to dismiss the rest of the charges against the defendant. The court convicted the defendant of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. He then sought habeas review, arguing that the predicate offenses did not constitute crimes of violence and, therefore, his conviction should be vacated. The appellate court granted the appeal, and the government sought certiorari review. Continue Reading ›

Under the Armed Career Criminal Act (the Act), people with three or more prior convictions for certain felonies face enhanced penalties if they are convicted of a subsequent crime. The prior convictions must arise out of crimes that occurred on different occasions, however. Recently, the United States Supreme Court examined what the word occasions means in the context of the Act, in a case where the defendant had ten prior robbery convictions that stemmed from a single criminal incident. If you are accused of a federal crime, it is wise to meet with a Michigan criminal defense attorney to assess your options.

Factual History of the Case

It is reported that in 1997 the defendant broke into a storage facility and robbed ten different units. The government charged him with ten counts of burglary; he pleaded guilty and was convicted. Seventeen years later, an officer who was in the defendant’s home saw the defendant with a rifle in his possession. The defendant was subsequently charged with the federal offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury found the defendant guilty and during sentencing, he was deemed an armed career criminal under the Act, because of his ten prior robbery convictions. The court sentenced the defendant to 15 years in prison, and he appealed. The appellate court affirmed his sentence, and the defendant sought certiorari review.

Prior Offenses Under the Career Criminal Act

The  Supreme Court examined the issue of whether crimes that a defendant commits in sequence during a single incident happen on separate occasions for the purposes of imposing a sentence enhancement under the Act. The Court found that such crimes did not constitute separate occurrences, and reversed the lower court ruling. Continue Reading ›

Under Michigan law, there are some acts that, while they form the basis of criminal charges, are justified in certain situations. For example, if a person uses force against another person, they may be charged with an assault crime, but if they took such action to protect themselves or someone else, the charges against them might be dismissed. In a recent ruling, a Michigan court discussed what evidence a criminal defendant must produce to establish the use of force was appropriate. If you are charged with assault or any other crime, it is in your best interest to confer with a skilled Michigan criminal defense attorney.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendants, husband, and wife, were charged with first and third-degree home invasion. The charges arose out of an incident in which they, along with the husband’s mother, went to the home of another man to pick up the mother’s partner. When they arrived, the man reportedly opened the door briefly and then grabbed the partner and dragged her into another room.

Reportedly, the husband and wife heard the partner screaming for help and entered the home without the man’s permission. A physical altercation ensued. A jury convicted the defendants as charged. They appealed, arguing that their attorneys were ineffective because they failed to request a jury instruction on the defense of others. The intermediate appellate court affirmed their convictions, and they appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. Continue Reading ›

The United States Constitution grants criminal defendants numerous protections and rights. For example, the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution affords people charged with crimes the right to a public trial. If the right is violated and a criminal defendant is tried in a closed courtroom, it may constitute grounds for dismissal. Recently, a Michigan court discussed the right to a public trial and what evidence a defendant must offer to prove their rights were violated. If you were charged with a crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should speak to a trusted  Michigan criminal defense lawyer.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple crimes following a shooting death. The case proceeded to trial, and during a recess, a juror came into contact with the victim’s child’s mother in the hallway. The trial court subsequently removed the woman and all spectators from the courtroom and ordered them not to return for the remainder of the trial. The jury convicted the defendant of multiple felonies. He then appealed and moved to remand the matter for an evidentiary hearing, arguing in part that his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial had been violated.

It is reported that the intermediate appellate court granted his motion. Following the evidentiary hearing, he filed a motion for a new trial which was denied on the grounds that the courtroom was not locked, it was merely cleared, and that even if it was closed, he waived the right to a public trial by failing to object. He then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. Continue Reading ›

People wrongfully convicted of crimes have numerous avenues for seeking justice. For example, they may be able to file appeals or petition the court for a writ of habeas corpus. They must comply with statutory procedures prior to filing their petition, however, and if they fail to do so, their petition will likely be denied, as illustrated in a recent Michigan ruling. If you believe you were wrongfully convicted of a crime or need assistance with another criminal matter, it is in your best interest to contact a Michigan criminal defense lawyer to determine your options.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted by a jury of numerous weapons offenses and assault with intent to commit murder. The trial court deemed him a third-offense habitual offender and sentenced him to concurrent prison terms of 30 to 60 years, 15 to thirty years, and 34 months to 10 years for his respective crimes. He subsequently appealed, arguing in part that police seized evidence from his home without showing him a warrant in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The state court denied his appeal, and he subsequently filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district court.

Requirements for Seeking a Writ of Habeas Corpus

After a criminal defendant files a petition for writ of habeas corpus, the court must undertake a preliminary review to evaluate whether it is clear from the face of the petition, including any attached exhibits, that the defendant is not entitled to relief in the district court. If the court finds the petitioner is not in fact entitled to relief, it must dismiss the petition. Continue Reading ›

The Michigan Rules of Evidence dictate what evidence the state is permitted to use against a defendant at trial. Among other things, it must be relevant. Additionally, evidence that passes the relevance threshold may be deemed inadmissible if it is overly prejudicial. In a recent Michigan matter in which a defendant appealed his murder conviction, a court explained how relevancy and prejudice determinations are made. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to understand what evidence the state may offer to attempt to prove your guilt, and you should consult a capable Michigan criminal defense lawyer to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and numerous other crimes following the shooting death of his wife. During the trial, the state introduced evidence of the defendant’s past infidelity, among other things. Following his conviction, the defendant filed an appeal, arguing in part that the trial court improperly permitted evidence of his infidelity. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed his conviction.

Evaluating Whether Evidence is Relevant or Prejudicial

The appellate court noted that the parties did not dispute that the defendant shot his wife; rather, the issue was whether the shooting constituted murder or voluntary manslaughter. To demonstrate guilt for voluntary manslaughter, the state needs to show that a person killed someone in the heat of passion that was brought about by sufficient provocation. The state must also show that there was not a lapse of time between the provocation and the event during which a rational person could gain control of their emotions. Continue Reading ›

Many people are reluctant to talk to the police about criminal activity due to loyalty to their friends and family, fear of implicating themselves, and other reasons. Regardless of their motive, people who refuse to participate in criminal investigations or lie to the police may face criminal charges. This was demonstrated in a recent Michigan case, in which the court discussed the elements of the crime of making a false statement to a peace officer during the investigation of a crime. If you are accused of making false statements or any other crime, it is advisable to speak to a skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the state charged the defendant with four counts of making misleading or false statements to a police officer during the course of a criminal investigation. Specifically, the defendant, who was the President of a University, was questioned about her knowledge of sexual misconduct allegations against a sports medicine doctor at the school. The police alleged that she falsely claimed she did not know the identity of the doctor during a Title IX investigation in 2014 or the nature and substance of the investigation. The defendant filed a motion to quash bind over. The Circuit Court granted the motion, quashing the bind over of the defendant and dismissing the case. The state appealed.

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