Articles Posted in Criminal Penalties

Most people arrested for drunk driving in Michigan first encounter the police as part of a traffic stop.  The traffic stop might be for something unrelated, such as speeding, or it might be because of something more commonly associated with intoxicated driving, such as weaving.  Either way, the police investigation in a DUI/OWI case begins as soon as the officer begins to observe your car.

Michigan DUI attorney Patriick Barone covers the entire State of Michigan.

Phase 1 – Vehicle in Motion Clues (Speeding, Weaving)

Law enforcement thinks of this as the “vehicle in motion” phase of their investigation.  During this phase the officer will be taking notes about your driving so that they can justify the stop, and will also take notes relative to how you respond to their stop signal.  In other words, what did you do when the police activated their flashing lights?  Did you pull over normally?  Or were you slow to respond?  Were any other traffic violations observed?  Did you stop inappropriately, or try to flee, etc.

Sexting my seem innocent enough when between consenting adults, but when under age people are involved you may find yourself charged with a sex offense which could lead to years in prison. Offenses involving child pornography in the State of Michigan are aggressively prosecuted requiring an equally aggressive criminal defense.

Is sexting illegal in Michigan?

Sexting can be criminal and several statutes have been used to prosecute sexting and CSAM (aka child pornography) in Michigan:

The black letter law in Michigan suggests that juries have the power but not the right to exercise jury nullification.[i] Nevertheless, the practice of law is all shades of gray, and the arguments made by lawyers are often in the penumbras of black letter law.

For example, some Michigan cases have indicated that nullification may be argued where nullification is a recognized legal defense. Because a trial judge may exclude a defense attorney from presenting to the jury evidence supporting a defense that has not been recognized by the legislature[ii], the judge can preclude a lawyer from arguing for nullification.

This does not mean that the power of nullification can be taken away from the jury, and a judge cannot explicitly tell a jury that they are precluded from exercising jury nullification. In one Michigan case where a judge told the jury that jury nullification was inconsistent with the recognized power of the jury, the verdict of guilty was reversed.[iii]  In support of their reversal, the court indicate that:

In the United States, we obtained much of our initial original jurisprudence from England. This “precedence” is called the common law. Because the English common law had such an impact on the development of our law it makes perfect sense that the English common law tradition of jury nullification directly influenced early American criminal trials. In the colonies, both the right to a jury trial, and the jury’s associated nullification powers, were viewed as vital to ensuring liberty.

The Founders, all of whom had the personal experience of living under an oppressive and capricious government, also believed in the importance of the right to nullification, particularly when viewed through the lens of liberty and freedom from tyranny. As one historian observed, “The writings of Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and other founders–Federalists and Anti-federalists alike–all support the belief in a jury responsible for deciding both fact and law.” Similarly, jury trials and nullification were respected throughout the early days of U.S. history.[i]

Nevertheless, as the common law developed the question remained about if and how nullification would be incorporated into our system of governance. While the right to a jury trial is mentioned repeatedly throughout our founding documents, the word “nullification” is absent from all of them. Consequently, the United States Supreme Court had to grapple with this issue, and attempt to resolve it.  However, their precedent regarding nullification has never entirely resolved the role of the jury in a criminal case or even the propriety of nullification.

As previously explained, jury nullification occurs when a jury fails to follow the instructions of the court and instead returns a verdict contrary to those instructions. UN Appeals judge and constitutional law expert Geoffrey Robertson suggests that an independent jury can disregard the strict letter of the law set forth in these instructions and return their verdict of acquittal due to feelings of “sympathy or humanity” or simply based on common sense.

Jury instructions themselves can be part of the problem. Jury instructions are summations of the law and reflect the litigants’ best efforts to distill often complex laws in chunks that can be understood and applied by the jurors when evaluating the facts presented to them at trial.

However, when it comes to criminal cases and the tacit but often necessary application of constitutional law principals, these “chunked summations” of the law are rife with potential pitfalls. According to Duke University School of Law Professor Brandon Garrett, the use of constitutional rights in jury instructions—and in evidentiary practice more generally—is a subject that deserves far more attention in the bar and in scholarship.[i]

The criminal procedure applicable to the Michigan Juvenile Criminal Courts is similar to but much different from the procedures utilized and applicable to the Michigan Adult Criminal Courts. The purpose of this article is to give a brief yet concise summary of these differences. If you are charged as an adult or juvenile offender, or if you are the parent of someone so charged, then your lawyer will be able to give a more detailed explanation of what to expect while your case is pending.

How Does a Juvenile Case Begin?

In the adult court, the case begins when a criminal complaint is filed. Most often, complains are accompanied by warrants, and require that you appear for an arraignment. In the juvenile court, the complaint is called a petition. They both list what the allegations. This is just one of the many differences in the juvenile justice system.

The only way to know the answer to this question would be to actually try the case in front of a Michigan Jury. One thing for certain however is that Kyle Rittenhouse would have been allowed to raise a claim of self defense had the case happened here in Michigan. Presumably, if it was the exact same testimony and evidence, same jurors, judge and prosecutor, then yes, Kyle Rittenhouse would have been acquitted here in Michigan too.

This is all speculation, but a brand-new case in Michigan may shed light on the question. The name of the case is People of the State of Michigan v Leandrew Martin. The case arose out of the Jackson County Circuit Court, and was decided on November 18, 2021. In this case, the Michigan Court of Appeals set aside multiple felony convictions because the defendant’s lawyer had failed to request a jury instruction for self-defense despite the fact that a claim of self-defense had been established at trial.  The court held that this mistake was so bad that the verdict had to be set aside finding that the defendant’s attorney was “ineffective.”

The case arose out a bar fight and during the fight the defendant shot ten times into a crowd, leaving one person with a serious injury caused by ricocheted bullet that struck the foot. The defendant was a felon and was not in lawful possession of the pistol. Because of this the defendant’s lawyer thought he was not entitled to raise self-defense. It’s not clear why the defendant’s lawyer believed this to be true because Michigan’s laws of self-defense do not require that a defendant be in lawful possession of the weapon in order to raise a claim of self defense.

As Michigan’s drunk driving laws have continued to evolve, the range and type of punishment upon conviction has continued to increase over time. In the 70s when DUI laws were just beginning to be taken more seriously by drivers, police, prosecutors, and judges alike, punishment was usually limited to a fine and points on the offender’s driving record.

In the 80s, the DUI laws of the 70s were being amended, and these amendments almost always included some new or increased penalty. Jail time began to be considered for repeat offenders and in those cases involving serious injury or death. Fines and costs began to increase, and a variety of driver license sanctions such as restricted driving and a suspension of driving privileges.

The 1990s ushered in a whole new slew of increasingly draconian DUI laws, and the current incarnation of Michigan’s DUI laws dates back to 1999. It was at this time that the definition of DUI changed in Michigan as well. Previously, an offender could be charged with OUIL, UBAL or both. Charges were frequently reduced to reckless driving or “OWI,” which prior to 1999 meant “operating while visibly impaired.”

Over the years of defending “criminals” I have encountered many honest citizens who have made a simple mistake and now find themselves facing felony charges, prison time, the loss of career, and the loss of their 2nd Amendment rights, simply by making a mistake in understanding how they should transport a firearm.  Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a defense.  The price of education once in the legal system can be steep.  To avoid this fate, this article seeks to clarify the frustrating and contradicting laws regarding how to transport firearms.

Oftentimes, my clients are pulled over for a simple speeding ticket.  After the cop gets their license, registration, and proof of insurance, they are on their way to a warning or simple fine.  However, as a throw away question, the officer asks if they have any drugs or guns in the car.  Honest and law-abiding citizens are more than happy to tell the cop that they have a pistol unloaded in the case on the back seat or separated from the ammunition and placed in the glovebox.

The simple traffic stop instantly becomes a full-on investigation as the officers then begin asking questions designed to elicit admissions.  Since people with Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPL) have an affirmative duty to report the CPL and that they are carrying, the lack of that initial statement from an honest person tells the cop that there is no CPL.  This makes the act a felony and soon an arrest and a night or more in jail await someone who thought they were transporting a pistol safely.

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.”

Contact Information