Articles Posted in Covid-19

With new cases of Covid-19 continuing to escalate in Michigan, on July 10, 2020, Governor Whitmer responded with Executive Order 2020-147, which indicates that “[A]ny individual who leaves their home or place of residence must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth.” The Order further provides that masks must be worn in any indoor public space and on all public transportation. Also, face masks are now mandatory when you are a passenger on any ride-sharing vehicle, such as Lyft or Uber, or in any private car when being used as “hired transportation.” Will this mandatory Covid-19 face mask requirement have any impact on law enforcement practices? Specifically, will a lack of a face mask by driver or a vehicle’s occupants lead to probable cause to stop a motor vehicle?

To answer this interesting legal question, we begin by noting that the Executive Order does make a failure to comply a crime.  Specifically, the order provides that a failure to wear a required face mask is a misdemeanor, though no jail time may be imposed for its willful violation. An open question in all this is how and even whether the police in the State of Michigan will enforce this Order?

As it relates to the existing law governing when the police may stop a moving vehicle, the general rule is that they must have “probable cause.”  However, there are many circumstances when the police may lawfully stop you, including and perhaps most commonly, for a violation the traffic code such as speeding. In 2014, the United States Supreme Court, in the Navarette case indicated that a vehicle may be stopped based on an anonymous 911 call provided the caller provides enough information and detail to have the indica of reliability and therefore enough to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot.

The short answer is yes. There is no Michigan law specifically on this topic and the existing laws in Michigan do not otherwise preclude the wearing of a Covid-19 facemask while otherwise carrying a firearm in Michigan.

In Michigan, the Covid-19 Pandemic has brought significant changes and restrictions to Michiganders.  One of the often-debated pandemic guidelines is the requirement to wear a facemask. Currently, there is no absolute rule on the facemask requirement, and the guidelines on this topic vary between counties, municipalities, stores, and restaurants to wear facemasks.  While the actual scientific merits of the facemask requirements may remain up for debate, it also leads to significant questions of legality.

One of the questions frequently asked of the Michigan Gun Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm is whether a person carrying a firearm can do so legally while wearing a facemask.  Obviously, wearing a facemask while carrying a pistol into the local Kroger feels like you are going to rob the place, but is it illegal?

One of the many unintended consequences of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic may well be a significant increase in financial fraud. This is due in part to the central banks lowering of the prime interest rate to zero percent. With money this “cheap” companies and individuals are encouraged to borrow money, which is all well and good until the money must be repaid. And when money is cheap, individuals may use the money they have borrowed recklessly, taking greater risks of loss.

Financial fraud occurs when an individual or corporation offers to provide goods, services, or financial benefits knowing that that these things do not and may never exist. In these situations, the victims of financial fraud trade money for these benefits, but never receive what’s been promised to them.  This is because the perpetrators of the financial fraud know that the benefits  do not exist, were never intended to be provided, or were misrepresented. Typically, victims give money but never receive what they paid for.

Possibly the most famous historical example of financial fraud occurred in the 1870s and is referred to as a “Ponzi scheme.”  Charles Ponzi was a businessman and financier who created the Securities and Exchange Company.  Using this as a front to defraud, Mr. Ponzi took money from investors, and then, after a mere 45 days, promised to return to them a 50% profit.  Trouble was that the money was never “invested.” Ponzi simply took the new money he was being paid today to pay off the older investors.  Also called a “pyramid scheme” a Ponzi scheme can only last so long, and like all Ponzi schemes, it eventually collapsed.

Allowing the sale of pre-made cocktails and other types of alcoholic beverages to be sold carry-out may increase the numbers of drunk drivers on Michigan’s roads. However, because the answer to how carry out liquor sales will impact instances of DUI is not clear-cut, only time will tell if this potential for increased DUI becomes reality.

A good argument can be made that the new carry-out laws will have zero impact on DUI in Michigan. But these arguments assume that the bars and restaurants will be keeping a close eye on their patrons after the carry-out sale is made. If the persons consuming the alcohol are under less scrutiny from the persons selling it, and therefore less likely to get “cut off” before becoming intoxicated, then the new law may create a greater likelihood of drunk drivers.

The covid-19 restrictions imposed by Governor Whitmer have hurt the bottom line for all of Michigan’s bars and restaurants, and these new bills are intended in part to create a new stream of revenue and help these small businesses survive. For example, as quoted in the Detroit Free Press, Ben Giovanelli, who is the president of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority, believes that outdoor sales will be the key to survival for many bars and restaurants, who are still only allowed to operate at half-capacity.  Social districts can help make up the difference.

Fear of the Covid 19 virus means more people are spending time at home, often alone, in front of their phones or computers. Unfortunately, some of those people are sexual predators looking for their next sex crimes victim. According to news sources, this means that the risk of sexual predators finding victims is also increased.

How are Sexual Predators Finding their Victims?

Sexual predators use various tactics to gain access to and communicate with their targets online. One of the biggest threats comes from communicating with potential victims through apps and sites that children and young adults use most frequently- YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook. Once a predator is connected to a potential victim, some purport to be someone else by using a profile picture that looks like someone the same age as the victim. Once a predator is connected to a victim, the predator usually aims to elicit sexual photos from the victim and, potentially, meet the victim in person.

With the advent of the novel covid 19 virus many officers who arrest suspected Michigan DUI drivers are now worried about the contamination risks associated with a breath test. Obtaining a breath sample places an officer directly at risk for exposure because the officer must do all of the following:

  • Be very near to a DUI suspect as they exhale into the breathalyzer.
  • Look directly into and inspect a DUI suspect’s mouth prior to the blow.

Barone Defense Firm Offers Free Estate Planning to Michigan’s First Responders

The United States just earned the unfortunate statistic of having the world’s most confirmed cases of Covid-19. While the virus does not discriminate, it does disproportionately impact certain members of our communities, including those who have dedicated their careers and perhaps literally, their lives, to helping all of us.

These first responders include all police officers, nurses, doctors and firefighters.  All of those on the front line of helping us fight the pandemic.  They’re all in the same boat.  Their jobs place them at the highest risk, and even with protective measures, many of them will contract the virus.  By all accounts, once the virus is contracted the impact varies considerably among individuals.  Some experience almost no or only very minor symptoms while in others the virus quickly migrates to and immediately begins ravaging the lungs. The result for some is death.

It’s during times like these that all of us look for ways to protect ourselves and our families.  Not only from the potential illness caused by the virus, but we also want to protect the financial well-being of our loved ones.  For many of us this means making sure we have all necessary estate planning documents in order.

Can the Police Confiscate My Guns During the State of Emergency?

By Executive Order 2020-04 Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency across the State of Michigan.  In doing so, the Governor activated the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act.  Passed in 1945, the Act provides that during times of great public crisis or public emergency of immediate danger the government’s power vastly increases.  Specific powers given to the executive branch of government, including to the police in general, may, among other things, include the regulation of the sale of alcohol and explosives.

However, subsection 2 of section 5 of the Act provides that the powers given to the Governor do not otherwise include or authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of lawfully possessed firearms or ammunition.

Michigan citizen’s Second Amendment rights are also protected at the Federal level during times of public emergency by an even more inclusive prohibition against firearm seizure. This Federal prohibition is found at 42 U.S.C 5207.  Known as the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, this Federal law prohibits the confiscation of firearms by any officer or employee of the United States. The Act also prohibits any law that infringes on the otherwise lawful concealed or open carry.

Michigan Now Prosecuting Violations of Whitmer’s Stay at Home Order

As part of a Continuing effort to battle the Covid-19 virus, Michigan first term Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently joined other states around the country in ordering all citizens of the state to stay at home. Her authority to do so arises out of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act passed in 1945.

This Act gives the Governor certain powers, as follows:

During times of great public crisis, disaster, rioting, catastrophe, or similar public emergency within the state, or reasonable apprehension of immediate danger of a public emergency of that kind, when public safety is imperiled.

Barone Defense Firm COVID-19 Announcement

First and foremost, throughout this difficult time, the Barone Defense Firm is hopeful that all our clients, present, past and future, are safe and healthy and remain able to take care of themselves and their loved ones. The world, our Country and each of our communicates have changed so much in the past few weeks.  Nevertheless, our main priorities remain the same:

  1. Protect the health and safety of our community, and;
  2. Minimize disruptions in our handling of your case.

As we all know, the impact of the Covid-19 Virus has been widespread on a global, state, and local scale, and recently, Michigan joined a growing number of States that have issued stay at home orders. In this midst of all of this uncertainty, we want to assure you that we at the Barone Defense Firm are continuing to work hard protecting your legal rights while simultaneously implementing policies to protect your health.  As circumstances seem to rapidly change, our offices will persist in responding, which will include our monitoring the applicable orders, rules and policies of our local district and circuit courts for changes that may directly impact our clients.

For example, in accordance with the recommendations of the CDC and the Administrative Orders of the Michigan Supreme Court (MSC), we are taking every precaution to protect the health of our clients, our firm, and all the employees of the judicial system, and this includes limiting in-person communications and court appearances. Per the MSC Administrative Order;

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