Articles Posted in Felony Offenses

Charges for criminal sexual conduct cases, more commonly called sex crimes or sexual assault, are often based only on the memories of the complaining witness. This is especially true for sexual assault that allegedly took place when the adult victim was a child.  In these sex crimes cases there is no physical evidence, and the guilt of the accused rests entirely on the veracity of the witness’s statements and testimony. The problem is that the allegations of criminal sexual conduct can be based on totally false memories.

A new article written by an international team of researchers suggests that false memories can be reversed.  According to the article, false memories cause many problems, not the least of which is false criminal allegations.  The existence of false memories has been shown by many prior studies, and the contribution of this new study is that with the right kind of interviewing false memories can be supplanted by true memories.

To understand how this would all play out in a Michigan sex crimes case, the investigation of a sex crime usually begins with a report made to a police department.  The initial report will inevitably be based on a recollection of past events, in this case some kind of sexual trauma or abuse. The case might then be assigned to a detective, who is likely to seek a second interview of the complaining witness, a/k/a victim. Depending on the age of the complaining witness, a forensic interview may follow.

A psychosexual evaluation (PSE) is a psychological assessment administered by a licensed psychologist that collects information about one’s biographical and sexual history.  In addition to the clinical interview, the therapist will also administer several related psychometric tests, and based on both, will provide an opinion relative to the propensity one might have to commit a future criminal sexual act. Beyond the evaluation and determination of criminal recidivism, the PSE should also provide, if necessary, a treatment plan to give the person the tools to control sexual urges and avoid potentially criminal situations in the future.

What subjects are covered in the PSE?

The PSE is lengthy and can take several hours to two days to complete. Questions are centered around the client’s social and sexual history ranging from simple biographical information to very specific and detailed sexual encounters. Questions of a sexual nature will include topics like sexual fantasies, sexual relationships, and masturbation.

Once you have been arrested on a Federal Complaint and Warrant, the government must hold a preliminary exam with 14-21 days unless you consent, and good cause is shown. Otherwise, the rules require that you be released. However, you can only be held on a complaint. You cannot be prosecuted further on a complaint and warrant.  To prosecute you further, the government must either file an information or obtain an indictment.

To better understand this, it is helpful to consider that when the government believes that you have committed a felony over which the federal courts have jurisdiction, the prosecution for this crime may be initiated by the government in one of three ways. The most common of the three is the criminal indictment. However, in certain circumstances, the government may determine that there is a need to forgo the grand jury and instead will prepare and file a complaint. This procedure is governed by Rules 3-5.1 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

A compliant, and the necessary probable cause to support it, may be based in whole or in part on hearsay. According to Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a complaint must contain the essential facts of the crime alleged, and must be presented to a magistrate judge, under oath. Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that, in reviewing the warrant and deciding whether to issue an arrest warrant, the magistrate judge must determine whether the complaint establishes probable cause to believe 2 things; first that the crime alleged has been committed and that second that the defendant committed it.

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.

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.

Force, also known as coercion, is a legal term of art. It is a legal concept that is specifically listed or referenced in each of Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) offenses, 1st Degree through 4th Degree. Overall, Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct defines force as actual physical force, the threat of force, the threat to retaliate against the victim, extortion or threat thereof, kidnapping or threat thereof, concealment of something to commit the assault, surprise, or, in a medical environment, it fake or unethical medical procedures. However, as often the case in legal jurisprudence, there are some slight differences in each degree of criminal sexual conduct.

Force Related to Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan:

In CSC 4th Degree, MCL 750.520e(b) states the following:

Dealing with any criminal charge can be a daunting task. This is especially true when facing Federal criminal charges because most people feel more frightened and intimidated when the criminal charges are brought in the Federal courts as opposed to the State courts.  If you are facing Federal charges you may wonder why you are not in State court. Or, in the worst-case scenario, you may wonder why you are being prosecuted in both courts. There are many reasons for this decision, and these are discussed below.

Being Prosecuted in Both State and Federal Court

To begin with, all courts handling criminal cases are in either the Federal or the State court system, but the criminal cases they are empowered to hear, also called their “jurisdiction” differs significantly. Federal court judges have the power to preside over matters involving the U.S. Constitution and over all Federal Laws, which are those passed by the U.S. Congress. State court judges are empowered to preside over cases involving the State Constitution, and over all State laws, meaning those passed by a State or Municipal governing body. State courts can therefore preside over traffic tickets and state misdemeanor and felony cases. The court of primary jurisdiction in the Federal system is called the “district court” whereas the court of primary jurisdiction in the State system is the circuit court.  In the State system, the district court is a lower court, below the circuit court, and is the place all state criminal charges begin.  State felonies must be handled in the circuit court however.

The Barone Defense Firm is pleased to announce that Patrick Barone, the Firm’s founding member, has been admitted to practice before the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Mr. Barone has been admitted to practice before the Federal District Court for the Eastern District since 1993.

Mr. Barone was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1991. He was admitted to the State Bar of Illinois in 1993.  However, being admitted to the state bar in one or more states does not authorize a lawyer to practice before any Federal Court.  This is because the rules applicable to Federal Courts differ from State Courts in several ways.  First, simply being admitted to a state bar is necessary but insufficient. Admission before a specific Federal Court requires that the attorney seeking admission prepare a petition to be filed with the Federal Court.  This petition must be supported by a sponsoring attorney who vouches for the attorney seeking admission.  The sponsoring attorney must already be a member of Federal Court where the petitioning lawyer is seeking admission.

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Federal Criminal Defense Team

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?

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