Articles Posted in Felony Offenses

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.

George Tompkins , a Texas pharmacist from Houston, was recently given a 10-year prison term after a jury convicted him of multiple felony counts, including health care fraud, money laundering and wire fraud.  Known as the “compound king”, the 75-year-old was also convicted of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks.  Mr. Tomkins was first arraigned on the 17-count indictment back in February 2018.

The evidence received by the court during the 6-day jury trial suggested that Mr. Tompkins, working with others, devised a health care prescription fraud scheme whereby they unlawfully received almost twenty-two million dollars in government payments for prescriptions that were medically unnecessary. The money was paid to Tomkins by the Department of Labor, and most of the prescriptions were given to patients referred to them by and through their contract to provide such services to state and federal employees. The payments were contracted through the Federal Employees Compensation Act program (FECA).  Many hundreds of patients were involved in this prescription fraud scheme.

To assist in their criminal enterprise, Mr. Tompkins and his cohorts created a couple different shell companies through which much of the fraud was run.  They used these companies to launder their ill-gotten proceeds. Part of the fraud involved continuing to ship prescriptions to their “patients” even after they had repeatedly been told to stop sending them.

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?

A Michigan chef has been accused of domestic violence by at least 7 different women, the Detroit News has reported. The Macomb County prosecuting attorney has charged him in at least one case involving his former wife.

According to Michigan domestic violence lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm, the term “domestic violence” refers to a specific kind of assault and/or battery; one where the accused has or had a domestic relationship or dating relationship of some kind with the alleged victim. Specifically, the applicable Michigan Compiled Laws section 750.81 provides that a domestic violence occurs when an individual assaults or assaults and batters any of the following:

  • Someone to whom they are or were married,

As part of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, several of Michigan’s pharmacists have been charged with Medicare and Medicaid Prescription Fraud.  The allegations include claims that at least one scheme lead to the defrauding of the Federal Government of more than five million dollars. Further, that fraudulent claims were submitted to Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross via the service dialdrugspharmacy.com. Medications fraudulently prescribed included Clozapine and Alprazolam. According to the complaint, some of these prescriptions were written for dead people.

According to Title 18 of the United States Code, health care fraud consists of the knowing implementation (or attempted implementation) of a scheme intended to defraud a health care program using false pretenses. A pharmacist can violate this law even if they are ignorant of the law itself, or if they only have the “general intent” to violate the law. This is because health care fraud under this section is not a specific intent crime. The law defines “fraud” as being the intentional deception or misrepresentation of facts which lead to the receiving of an unauthorized benefit. But here again the intent need only be general and not specific. According to the Michigan prescription fraud lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm, this can lead to unfair prosecution of pharmacists who never specifically intended to violate the law.

There are many kinds of prescription fraud.  Once type of prescription fraud involves a scheme whereby a prescription is set on “auto-refill” and then billed as scheduled when the patient never actually ordered or wanted the medication. These prescriptions are never picked up but the pharmacy non-the-less bills Medicare. This same medication can be “re-sold” many times over, thereby increasing the size of the auto-refill fraud. Another version of this kind of fraud involves giving the undelivered pills to patients, staff or medical sales reps for redistribution. This is most common with Opioid drugs that have significant street value.

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.

Restoration of Firearms Rights in Michigan After Felony Conviction

Michigan law provides that if you have been convicted of a felony you may not use, possess transport, sell or carry a firearm for a period of either three or five years. After this period has elapsed limited firearms rights under state law will either be returned to you automatically, or you will be required to affirmatively seek to restore such rights by petitioning a judge. It is important for you to understand that any restoration granted applies only to your eligibility under Michigan law. Although pursuant to Michigan law you may lawfully use, possess, transport and sell a firearm, you may still be prohibited from same under Federal law. This means that:

After restoration of your rights, the only firearms you can possess or use are certain types of firearms that do not take a modern cartridge, i.e., a pellet rifle, muzzle-loader, or black powder gun.

Knowing these limitations, if you are still interested in a restoration of your firearms rights, then you should also know that the specific felon in possession statute appears in the Firearms chapter of the Michigan Penal Code, and is found at Michigan Compiled Laws § 750.224f.  This law defines the term “felony” as being a conviction for a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for four years or more. Some felonies are punishable by maximum terms of less than four years, and if you were convicted of such a crime, then this law will not prohibit you under this statute.

Understanding a Probation Violation Case

If you have been sentenced in Michigan for a violation of any misdemeanor or felony law, then the judge likely placed you on a term of probation. Technically speaking, you may be placed on probation if the court determines that you are unlikely to engage in any criminal conduct again, and that the public good does not require you to go to jail.  For these reasons, probation is considered a privilege and not a right.

During the probationary period you will be ordered to comply with various terms and conditions of probation.  A failure to comply with these terms and conditions may result in your being served with a “show cause.” You will usually receive this document in the mail.  The purpose of this document is to notify you that you are being charged with an alleged violation of probation.  This document also directs you to appear in court and “show cause” as to why you should not be held in contempt of court for violating your probation.

The first step in a violation of probation case is the arraignment.  At this arraignment you will learn of the specific allegations against you and you will be asked to either plead guilty or not guilty to the violation. If you do not plead guilty then the matter will be set for a hearing. This hearing is usually set for a different date.  At this show cause hearing the prosecutor will be required to call witnesses to establish that you failed to comply with at least one term of probation.

Criminal Consequences of Statue Vandalism in Michigan

Many people view vandalism as a youthful indiscretion. The Sparty statue on the grounds of Michigan State University is the target of vandalism nearly every year during rivalry week. And in 2015, so was the Magic Johnson statue on the school’s grounds.

But while these may seem like harmless pranks by the college kids involved, Michigan has also seen its fair share of hate vandalism. One example is when someone painted offensive, derogatory remarks on a statue outside of Muskegon High School.

And this type of vandalism, along with the seemingly harmless pranks, can have offenders facing fairly serious consequences under Michigan’s willful and malicious destruction of property laws.

Can my Spouse Keep Their Guns If I’m on Felony Probation?

Probably not.  If you’ve been convicted of a felony in Michigan, then your gun rights will be suspended for three to five years, depending on the type of felony.  The suspension time periods start when you’re done with your felony probation and it is also likely that the sentencing Judge addressed this issue at the time you were sentenced and made the non-possession of firearms an explicit condition of probation.  For a more detailed explanation, let’s look at what the law provides.

The law that covers this issue is found at Michigan Compiled Laws § 750.224f, which provides as follows:

A person convicted of a felony shall not possess, use, transport, sell, purchase, carry, ship, receive, or distribute a firearm in this state until the expiration of 3 years after all the following circumstances exist: (a) The person has paid all fines imposed for the violation. (b) The person has served all terms of imprisonment imposed for the violation. (c) The person has successfully completed all conditions of probation or parole imposed for the violation.

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