Articles Posted in Criminal Evidence

Never has the security of our electronic information been more important. Phones and other electronic devices now have the capacity to store our life’s most important information to be accessed in an instant. Nearly everyone’s phone contains tons of information we’d prefer remain private. From passwords to pictures, Google search history, websites visited, images and files accessed, downloaded or shared, places we’ve traveled, with whom we’ve associated or communicated, social media posts made and reviewed, emails and text messages, banking and financial information, even our love interests – it’s all a touch away from the Government’s prying eyes.

Consider this hypothetical

Imagine for a moment that you’re driving on your local main road. You’re going slightly over the speed limit but nothing crazy. Suddenly, an officer starts following you. The officer turns on the patrol car’s sirens and you pull over. You’re told you were pulled over for speeding, but something seems off. You can tell the officer suspects something more than just speeding.

According to science, breath alcohol tests in DUI cases can be as much as 230 percent higher than corresponding blood tests. Because blood transports consumed beverage alcohol from the stomach to the brain where it can reach sufficient levels to cause impairment, a person’s blood alcohol level is what really matters. Therefore, in the context of a DUI case, breath alcohol only relevant  to the extent that it accurately reflects blood alcohol content. This is true because breath alcohol does not have the capacity to cause intoxication.

To understand just how significant this fact is, consider a hypothetical case where a driver’s breath test comes back at .18. This would likely result in the driver being charged with an enhanced DUI, or what Michigan calls “super drunk driving,” a charge applicable to drivers with a BAC of .17 or above. While this breath test evidence might look bad for the driver, it is well within the realm of scientific possibility that this same driver has corresponding or simultaneous blood alcohol level of .063, or well below the legal limit of .08. Understanding why this is so, and why breath testing can be so pernicious, requires a basic understanding of alcohol metabolism.

Pharmacokinetics and the Absorption, Distribution and Elimination of Alcohol

Pornography has never been easier to access. Anyone with a smart phone can readily obtain all kinds of pornography. While porn sites are often clearly named, such as Pornhub, other platforms containing pornographic images are less obvious and include many kinds of social media, such as such common apps like Tumblr and Instagram, various chat groups like Kik, and video sharing sites like BitTorrent.  Regardless of the means used to access pornography one thing remains constant. No matter how careful a person in when trying to cover up their digital footprint, chances are a good forensic analyst will be able to uncover that which is meant to stay private.

Child pornography is always illegal to receive, possess, distribute, or manufacture.  Many people believe that if they delete images on their phone or computer, these images are really deleted. However, simply hitting delete rarely actually destroys the evidence. If this were true, then nearly all child pornography cases would be based on destroyed evidence.  One place such deleted images may reside is in a computer’s cache or temporary memory.

What is a cache?

Sex crime allegations in Michigan are taken very seriously by law enforcement. Due to the specialized nature of these cases many police departments have officers and detectives with in depth training specific to the investigation of sex crime cases. The same is true for lawyers who work with the police departs to prosecute sex crime cases. In fact, many of the larger counties have specific teams of prosecutors who exclusively handle sex crimes cases. For example, the Wayne County Prosecutor has the Sexual Assault Team, and the Oakland County Prosecutor has the Special Victim Section (SVS).

On the west side of Michigan, Kent County does not have a specially named division in the prosecutor’s office, but that office does designate a few attorneys within the office to handle most of the sex crimes cases in the county.

To combat these highly specialized sex crime teams at the various prosecuting attorney’s offices throughout the State of Michigan, the Barone Defense Firm has assembled a team of sex crimes lawyers to go head to head with the prosecutors.

Can Drunk Driving be Charged as Murder in Michigan Where Death Occurs?

Whenever a death occurs at the hands of another, a prosecutor must decide how to charge the wrongdoer. In several Michigan cases involving intoxicated drivers where a death has occurred prosecutors have successfully charged murder. Generally, the appropriate charge is OWI causing death, which is punishable by up 15 years in prison. See MCL Sec. 257.625, et. seq. However, if a prosecutor can show that a driver had the appropriate mindset, then this charge can be raised to second degree murder, which is punishable by up to life in prison. See MCL Sec. 750.317.

Each crime is made up of elements, and an important element in a murder charge relates to the element of criminal intent. Consequently, in a murder case, the prosecutor will be focused on evaluating any evidence suggesting the wrongdoer’s state of mind, or what we lawyer’s call “mens rea.”

WWMT reporter Sam Knef recently contacted Patrick Barone, Michigan Gun Crimes lawyer at the Barone Defense Firm, to discuss Michigan’s self-defense laws. These laws are complicated and often misunderstood by the public, and Mr. Knef wanted to help his audience understand what is and is not legal in the State of Michigan.

In these tumultuous and chaotic times of pandemic and protest, the topic of self-defense is on people’s minds today more than ever. People around the Country are wondering what their right to self defense is if a protestor or anyone breaks into their home.  And what happens if you’re driving and you’re suddenly surrounded by angry protestors?  To address these concerns, Mr. Barone explains Michigan’s self defense laws, including the castle doctrine and the stand your ground law.  The title of Mr. Knef’s article is Lawyer explains Michigan’s castle doctrine law: When you can and can’t shoot an intruder.

The self-defense laws in Michigan consist of protections covering what happens both inside and outside a person’s residence, business or car. When dealing with self-defense in all places other than a person’s home business or motor vehicle, Michigan’s Stand your Ground law applies.  Based on this law, a person may use deadly force if they honestly and reasonably believe that they or another person are in imminent danger of death, serious bodily injury or sexual assault.  There is no duty to retreat, but an ability to retreat may impact on how the determination of reasonableness is made by a police officer, prosecutor, judge or jury.

The Criminal Defense Attorney Association of Michigan (CDAM) has asked Michigan DUI Lawyer Patrick Barone to present a 1-hour Webinar to criminal defense lawyers seeking to learn about recent changes to Michigan law impacting how intoxicated driving cases are investigated at the roadside.

The seminar, entitled Michigan Law Update: Roadside Drug Testing – What You Need to Know, will include a detailed analysis of Michigan’s roadside saliva drug testing program. In this workshop, Mr. Barone will teach other lawyers how to address these preliminary screening tests in court, and how to avoid defense traps that may befall the unwary.

In recent years, law enforcement at all levels of government, State and National, have begun focusing on the investigation and arrest of drivers intoxicated by drugs other than alcohol. Interest in drugged driving has increased with the advent of medical and recreational marijuana, and the saliva swab roadside testing program is designed to facilitate drugged driving arrests.

Patrick Barone recently provided expert commentary for WUSA9 reporter Evan Koslof. On his Verify news series, Mr. Koslof seeks to shed light and truth on common questions, misconceptions and outright myths. After a video surfaced of a New York warrant’s division officer arresting a protestor off the street and stuffing her into a van, many on social media have questioned the validity of the police action. One contention on social media was that the police were wrong because they apparently did not the protestor her Miranda Rights before they arrested her.  Mr. Koslof wanted to know if the Miranda Rights are truly necessary and how a failure to read the Miranda advisement might impact the police action. To help him with these legal issues, Mr. Koslof sought out two experts, a seasoned criminal defense attorney and law school professor. The video and article can be viewed by clicking here.

The central question raised in Mr. Kaslof’s investigation was whether the police are required to read a person their Miranda rights when they are being arrested?  The answer by Mr. Barone? – A resounding “no.”

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Patrick Barone’s appearance on the WUSA9 news show Verify.

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.

A St. Louis Missouri couple have garnered national attention for their actions involving their firearms while at their home during a protest, which has now led to Felony criminal charges.  To add to this drama the Missouri Governor has stated that he would pardon the couple, and interestingly the Attorney General has put himself into the case by filing a brief and demanding charges be dropped.

According to a CNN Article, ‘”It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner said in a statement.

In Missouri, and according to the local prosecutor, these actions are considered a Felony.  However, in Michigan, the alleged conduct described would be most similar to Michigan’s brandishing law, found at MCL Sec. 750.234e. This crime is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, which means it is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense. ‘”Brandishing” is defined as: to point, wave about, or display in a threatening manner with the intent to induce fear in another person.’ We’ve also previously addressed brandishing.

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