Articles Posted in Felony Offenses

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?

If you have been charged with and convicted of a felony in Michigan, then it will be important for you to know and understand the sentencing guidelines. From a historical perspective, sentencing guidelines were intended to accomplish several things, one of which was to remove the possibility of discriminatory sentences. Because there is a certain amount of objectivity to the calculation of sentencing guidelines, a wealthy white male should be sentenced in the same range as a poor black woman.

How Do Sentencing Guidelines Work?

Generally speaking, each offense category has assigned to it a variety of offense variables and prior record variables. Points are assigned for each of these variables, tallied, and then applied to the appropriate sentencing grid. The results of both will cause your sentence to “land” within a particular cell that will dictate the appropriate minimum sentence.

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.
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