Articles Posted in Law Enforcement

When is SORA Registration Necessary in Michigan?

In the past, many violations that would trigger sex offender registration were prosecuted under the old Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) even when the violation was a result of a mistake, ignorance, or unintended violations. If this has happened to you, then you’ll definitely want to hire a Michigan sex crimes attorney to help. Here is some more useful information for you to know about SORA:

What Sex Crime Charges result in Sex Offender Registry?

In every criminal case the government has the obligation to prove the elements of the crime charged behind a reasonable doubt. To meet this burden of proof the government must produce evidence in support of their case. This evidence usually consists of the narrative written police reports prepared by the investigating officers, any video or audio recordings of the accused or any witnesses, written witness statements, any tangible evidence such as murder weapons, any forensic evidence such as toxicology or fingerprint reports, ballistics evidence, and anything else that the prosecutor has in his or her possession that can or will be used to support their claim that a crime was committed.

The law and rules of criminal procedure provide that the prosecutor has an obligation to provide the defense with access to and/or copies of all their evidence prior to trial. In this context, the term “discovery” is used by lawyers and judges as a verb that broadly refers to the process used to obtain copies or access to the prosecutor’s evidence. For example, the court may ask if “discovery is complete” to which the attorneys may response “discovery is ongoing.” The term discovery is sometimes also used as a noun to collectively refer to the total body of written, physical, or digital evidence. In this instance the prosecutor may tell the court that they have provided all of the “discovery” to the defense.

The discovery process usually begins with a written discovery demand prepared by the defense attorney and served on the prosecuting attorney. Depending on circumstances, the investigating agencies involved, as well as the courts involved, discovery demands and or Freedom of Information Act requests may be sent directly to law enforcement or two third parties such as the Michigan State Police forensic laboratories in Lansing.

A probable cause conference is a court hearing that precedes the preliminary examination. Both hearings are part of what are more broadly referred to as your due process rights. Your attendance at a probable cause conference is mandatory. Both you and your attorney will usually receive the initial date for your probable cause conference at the arraignment.

The probable cause conference is governed by Michigan Compiled Laws § 766.4 and Michigan Court Rule 6.108. The probable cause conference must be held not less than 7 days or more than 14 days after the date of the arraignment. The probable cause conference will take place at the district court having jurisdiction over the matter. However, district court jurisdiction is limited relative to felony cases in that district court judges do not have the authority to sentence a felony offender and do not have the authority to preside over trial on a felony matter.

Generally, the purpose of a probable cause conference is to determine if the case can be resolved without going any further or if a preliminary examination is necessary before the case can proceed toward trial at the circuit court.

The Michigan Gun Crimes Lawyers of the Barone Defense Firm practice all over the State of Michigan. This includes both state and federal courts.  For example, the 64A District Court and Ionia Circuit Court both located in Ionia, Michigan in Ionia County are regular courts that we appear in due its proximity to our Grand Rapids office.  The media recently reported that there was a stabbing in Ionia County and further that there is a claim of self-defense.  All the facts surrounding the circumstances of the stabbing are still being investigated, but there is some information that has been reported by local news outlets, therefore, we believe it is important to address some of the common issues that we see in self-defense cases and in Ionia County.

Is Self Defense limited to firearms?

No. Self-Defense often elicits the idea that a gun or firearm was involved.  However, Michigan legal self defense laws apply to all legal weapons, which include knives.  According to article a homeowner stabbed a man that was in his home.  He then called 911 and notified the dispatcher of what he had done.  Law enforcement arrived which included local public safety officer and state authorities from Michigan State Police.  It is common that multiple agencies arrive on scene when there is possible use of deadly force, regardless of whether it is reasonable and legal use of deadly force.  It was further reported that the person who had been stabbed was pronounced dead at the scene. Therefore, it is common practice that the medical examiner and a forensics unit would also appear, although it was not reported.

Barone Defense Firm Partner Michael Boyle recently obtained a great result for a client charged with several gun and assault crimes. But that wasn’t the end of the story. It was only the beginning.

A Judge told my client he’s lucky. Is he right?

Imagine you are charged with a combination of three felony gun and assault crimes. Next imagine that if you’re convicted of these crimes, you’re facing a possible total sentence of 8 years in prison. And on top of that, you could also end up having to pay several thousand dollars in fines and costs. Now, imagine that after facing all that, you end up with two misdemeanors, no jail time and a small fine. Sound good? The Judge presiding over the case thought so. He told our client he was “lucky” to have gotten such a great deal. But was it luck, or was it the result of hard work and good lawyering?

The extremely tragic school shooting in Oxford, Michigan has brought the issues of gun safety and gun storage to the forefront once again. As the unfortunate story goes, it is alleged that 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley opened fire on his fellow students at Oxford High School on November 30th, 2021. It is alleged that he killed four students and injured seven others including a teacher. Crumbley is being charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with intent to commit murder, and 12 counts of possessing a firearm while committing a felony.

The parents of the Oxford shooter are also being charged with crimes

Crumbley’s parents are being charged for alleged crimes arising out of their son’s alleged shooting causing death and injury to others at Oxford High School. Oakland County Prosecutor, Karen McDonald, authorized four counts of involuntary manslaughter against each of Crumbley’s mom and dad. Involuntary manslaughter is a felony under Michigan law, carrying a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. This means that each parent facing four charges of involuntary manslaughter would be looking at up to 60 years in prison if convicted of all four charges.

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Investment Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA). This new law contains a provision requiring that all passenger vehicles eventually be equipped with technology that will stop drunk drivers. New cars may start utilizing such technology immediately, but the law won’t require this advanced impaired driving technology any sooner than 2 years from now, though it’s likely to take far longer.

What is the Timeline for Requiring Advanced Impairment Detection Technology?

As previously indicated in our previous article entitled Infrastructure Bill to Combat Drunk Driving by Requiring Alcohol Monitoring Technology the new law does not, with any degree of specificity, indicate what technologies are to be utilized for this purpose.  Instead, the law sets forth a timeline for the Secretary of Transportation to write the specific motor vehicle safety standard. Section 24220(c) indicates that not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of the IIJA, the Secretary of Transportation (SOT) shall issue a “final rule” requiring that a motor vehicle safety standard be added to the relevant section of the federal code.

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.

A recent Michigan Court of Appeals panel reversed a conviction for Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree, commonly called rape, due to improper witness vouching. The case involved three expert witnesses, all of whom testified for the government.  In different and sometimes subtle ways, each expert made improper statements about the complaining witnesses (CW) credibility that amounted to their “vouching” for the CW’s credibility.

According to the standard jury instructions utilized in Michigan sex crimes cases it is up to the jury to judge and weigh a witness’s credibility.  In reaching this determination, the jury will be instructed to consider a variety of factors including how well the witness was able to see and hear things and was there anything that might have distracted them; how good is their memory; how do they look and act while testifying and do they seem to be telling the truth or are they trying to evade answering and arguing with the lawyers, do they have any personal interest in how the case is decided, and how reasonable is their testimony when compared with all of the other evidence in the case. See M Crim JI 2.6.

Notice that “what do other people think about the witness’s credibility” is not among the factors for the jury to consider.  Vouching is improper therefore because it “invades the province” of the jury by substituting someone else’s opinion for the jury’s collective determination.

Early in the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic Michigan’s Governor Whitmer promulgated a slew of executive orders that significantly reduced or eliminated the ability of Michigan’s citizens to work, travel, shop and engage in many leisure activities. The Governor’s orders were among the most restrictive in the Nation, earning her both praise and criticism locally and nationally.

Within Michigan, many protests followed, including a well-publicized armed protest in April 2020. No firearms arrests followed this protest, and many were surprised that Michigan law did not ban the open or concealed carrying of firearms at the State Capital.

To understand why no arrests were made, it is helpful to know that Michigan is an open-carry State, meaning that in many instances non-concealed firearms can be carried anywhere not otherwise precluded under Michigan Complied Laws §750.234d.  The laws pertaining to concealed carry are someone different, but the capital building is also not a prohibited place for concealed carry under Michigan Complied Laws § 28.425o.

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