Articles Posted in Criminal Penalties

The Michigan Court of Appeals has indicated that two sentences of 30 to 50 years in prison for two CSC-I convictions may run consecutive to one another. This effectively means that this defendant received a minimum sentence of 60 years. The name of the case is People v. Randolf.

The Michigan sexual assault crime called criminal sexual conduct first degree, is set forth in Michigan Compiled Laws Sec. 750.520b. As therein provided, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree involves a victim aged 13 years or younger, or between 13 and 16 when certain exacerbating circumstances exist, such as a perpetrator in a position of authority.

The punishment for a Michigan criminal sexual conduct first degree conviction ranges depending again on the circumstances and facts of the involved crime. For example, in the case where the perpetrator is 17 years old or older, and the victim is less than 13 years old, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years. Furthermore, the law provides that the sentencing judge may order consecutive sentences for two criminal offenses “arising from the same transaction.”

In this Michigan Intoxicated driving causing death, the defendant Willett entered a no contest plea thereby admitting that he was operating a motor vehicle with the presence of any amount of marijuana in his body, and that the operation of his vehicle caused the death of another, under Michigan Compiled Laws § 257.625(4)(a)and (8).

Mr. Willett was sentenced to 4 to 15 years of imprisonment. Prior to sentencing the defendant, the court questioned him about his marijuana use, and the defendant, then 21 years of age, admitted he used marijuana daily and had started using marijuana at age 14 or 15.  The court concluded the pre-sentencing colloquy by admonishing the defendant and stating to him that it was his use of the drug that lead to the horror of the accident and death. On appeal the defendant argued that the court’s sentence was based on inaccurate information, and the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed.  The case was reversed and remanded.

The facts of this case include an admission from the defendant, at the roadside, that while he was driving, he was getting sleepy and closed his eyes. He crashed into the car in front of him immediately after opening his eyes, creating a multi-vehicle accident leading to the death of one of the vehicle’s occupants.

In most situations the answer is no, but the most complete answer is “it depends.”   First, it is important to know that restitution is different from fines and costs.  Fines are defined by statute and meant to be punitive. For example, if you were convicted of prescription fraud under 18 USC § 841, you could be fined up to $10,000,000. Costs are generally discretionary and are meant to reimburse the government for the expenses involved in prosecuting you.  Both fines and costs are paid to the government.

Restitution on the other hand is meant to restore the victims of the crime to the place where they stood before the crime was committed. The legal phrase for this is to make the victim “whole.” Generally, the purpose of restitution is to compensate a person who, because of the criminal activity, suffers physical injury or property loss.  These losses may be proximally caused and are payable to the victim if you have been convicted of a qualifying offense.

Like fines, restitution in federal criminal cases is most often set forth in statutes. Examples of federal crimes where restitution would be ordered include crimes of violence crimes of fraud, and federal crimes involving child exploitation and child pornography. See 18 U.S. Code § 3663A. In these instances, the court is required to order restitution.

Michigan’s Super Drunk Driving law went into effect on October 31, 2010.  It created enhanced punitive and driver license sanctions for Michigan drunk drivers with a Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) of .17 or above. It only applies to first offense drunk driving as penalties and driver license sanctions for second or subsequent offenses remain unchanged and more punitive than for super drunk driving. This is true even for repeat offenders with BACs at or above .17.

What are the Penalties for a High BAC Super Drunk Driving in Michigan?

Michigan drivers found or pleading guilty to a High BAC super drunk driving face an array of serious punishments and consequences, including potentially more time in jail and less time on the road.

A new law in Michigan makes it somewhat less likely that persons charged with misdemeanor drunk driving, including first and second DUI offenses, will go to jail. This is because Public Act No. 395 of 2020, which was signed into law by Governor Whitmer on January 4, 2021, creates a rebuttable presumption against incarceration for most misdemeanor offenses, including most misdemeanor drunk driving offenses.  The effective date of the new law is March 24, 2021.

The new law amends Michigan Compiled Laws Section 769.5. Subsection 3 of this law indicates that there is a rebuttable presumption that a person convicted of a misdemeanor will be sentenced to a fine, or community service, or some other non-specified non-jail and non-probation sentence. The only circumstances under which a sentencing judge may depart from this presumption is if they state on the record “reasonable grounds” for doing so. The term “reasonable grounds” is not defined.

The law also provides that if the offense in question is punishable by both a fine and imprisonment, the court can impose one but not the other, or both. However, if the court does impose both a fine and incarceration, or just incarceration, then as indicated, the Judge must articulate on the record reasonable grounds for doing so.

A package of new laws allows some of Michigan’s repeat drunk drivers to possibly avoid mandatory minimum jail sentences. As a result of these changes, mandatory minimum sentences have been modified or removed from Michigan’s drunk driving statute, and this means that Judges may now sentence a drunk driver to any term of imprisonment, from zero days up to the maximum otherwise provided for the offense.  The new law does not change the applicable fines or maximum possible terms of imprisonment, it only eliminates the mandatory aspects of the minimum sentences, making it possible for some repeat DUI offenders to avoid incarceration.

Legislative History of the New Michigan DUI Laws

These changes arose out of House Bill 5845, which was introduced in June 2020.  The proposed law went through several permutations until it was approved by both houses by a vote of 506 to 38 in December 2020.  Shortly thereafter it was introduced to Governor Whitmer. The Bill was signed into law by the Governor on January 4, 2021 and becomes effective on March 24, 2021.

President Biden recently signed an executive order seeking to have the rules applicable to sexual misconduct cases reviewed.  Previously, President Trump had increased the due process of rights of the accused, bringing them more in line with the constitutional rights afforded those accused of sexual assault crimes in state and federal courts.

What Happens if a Student is a Victim of Sexual Assault?

If a college student believes that they have been sexually assaulted and want to bring the perpetrator to justice, they have many choices.  They can go to the police just as with any other crime.  Alternatively, they can report it their school. Or they can do both. Or they can have both done for them. Much of this will depend on the particular school involved.

In the most basic terms, statutory rape means consensual sex with a minor child. Michigan does not actually call this “statutory rape” to describe this crime. Instead, Michigan’s rape laws use the phrase criminal sexual conduct as the term for statutory rape.

Michigan’s rape laws are divided into four degrees of criminal sexual conduct. All four degrees can be triggered by the age of at least one of the actors, fitting the generic definition of statutory rape. Regardless of the degree of criminal sexual conduct, the basic idea of statutory rape is preserved under these laws, which is that an individual under the age of consent does not have the capacity to consent and, therefore, cannot give consent.

Thus, even if a person under Michigan’s age of consent is 100% willing and voluntarily agrees to engage in the sex act, they still cannot legally consent.  In this instance, yes does not mean yes.

If you have been charged with a violation under Chapter 110 of the United States code for possessing, receiving, distributing, or producing child pornography, then pursuant to 18 USC 18 U.S. Code § 2259, you are likely to be ordered to pay restitution to the victims of the crime. The term “victim” refers to the individual who is harmed because of the child pornography related crime.

As a general concept, the purpose of restitution in a criminal case is two-fold.  Firstly, restitution is intended to make a person “whole” meaning reimburse them directly for losses suffered because of the crime committed. Secondly, restitution has a punitive function, it is intended to punish the wrongdoer for the crime.

If the crime involved the trafficking of child pornography, which in this context means a violation of 18 USC 2251(d), 2252, 2252A(a)(1) through (5), 2252A(g), then the specific law cited above applies. Under this law, the court is required to determine the full amount of losses that were actually incurred or that could be “reasonably projected.” Then, after this calculation, the court is required to order restitution in an amount that reflects the defendant’s “relative role” in causing the victims loses.  The minimum amount that must be ordered $3,000.

A man charged with second degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) in Ann Arbor successfully avoided jail time and conviction on the charge as filed. The accused was originally arraigned on the CSC 2nd degree charge on July 29, 2020. The charge was a result of an investigation into a complaint from a 10-year-old girl who was under the care of the accused. The allegation was that the victim was touched in a sexual way by the accused while being cared for by the accused in the home of the accused.

What are the penalties for 2nd degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan?

The potential consequences for second degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan are severe. CSC 2 is a felony that cannot be expunged. If convicted, you could be sent to state prison for up to 15 years. A conviction also requires that the defendant registers as a sex offender under Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA). If the victim was less than 13 years old and the defendant was at least 17 years old, as in the case above, then the convicted defendant will be required to wear an electronic monitoring device for a lifetime. The convicted defendant must also pay for the cost of that monitoring device.

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