Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

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?

How Can a Sex Crimes Lawyer Near Me Help Avoid SORA?

A top sex assault lawyer can help you avoid the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) in many different ways. Before we get to that, let’s first talk about SORA, particularly the newest version of SORA in Michigan.

SORA, which is also known as the sex offender registration act, applies to most forms of criminal sexual conduct. If you are facing a sex crime allegation, then you are also facing possibly being listed on SORA. This is also sometimes called sex abuse. If you are facing the kinds of allegations, indecent exposure, you will need a criminal defense attorney well versed in this complex area of law to assist you minimize or avoid the consequences.

Soon after you are found guilty or plead guilty to a federal crime you will meet with a United States Probation Officer who will complete a presentence investigation and then prepare a report (PSIR) for the judge’s use at sentencing. If the judge sentences you to prison, then the PSIR will also be used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in making housing and other relevant determinations. Consequently, it is essential that the PSIR be accurate and complete. What follows is a description of the kind of information the probation officer will collect during your interview as well as how to be well prepared for this important process.

Why is the Federal Presentence Report Prepared?

The purpose of the presentence investigation and report is to provide comprehensive information about the offender that is both objective and accurate.  This information and report will be used by the court in making the appropriate sentencing decision. The report also will assist the Bureau of Prisons in making proper determinations relative to the management of the inmates under their supervision.

House Bill 5767 was introduced by Michigan Representative David LaGrand on February 17, 2022. A House Bill does not equate to a law that must be followed, at least not yet. The fact that this Bill was crafted is a clear indication that efforts are being made and will likely continue to be made until it does become law.

The motivation in House 5767 is a ripped from the Headlines of Michigan Politics due to the allegations of Criminal Sexual Conduct of the Michigan House Speaker.  The Representative from Grand Rapids submits that there is hole that needs to be filled in Michigan Criminal Procedure and admissibility of certain evidence, specifically Grooming.

What is Grooming?

Being charged with a crime is most certainly one of the most traumatic events you can experience, and then attempting to retain the right attorney or law firm might also feel like a daunting task. The Criminal Defense Trial Attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm understand that difficulty and that trauma, therefore we want to address some important factors in hiring the right trial attorney for your case.

Trial is an Endangered Species

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) recently published a report that 3% of all criminal cases in State and Federal Court are resolved through Trial compared to 20% of cases from 30 years ago. A related article lists that some of the reasons for this decrease include fear of what is known as a trial penalty or trial tax, meaning a worse sentence after a loss at trial. This is balanced against the fact that a lesser sentence can be arranged as part of a plea agreements. Certainly, another reason is the lack of ability or lack of experience of the trial attorney themselves.  The very fact fewer cases reach trial every year is reason enough to seek an attorney that does not have significant trial experience, and who will not be afraid to go to trial.

A jury is given an oath at the beginning of trial that reads: “….you will render a true verdict, only on the evidence introduced and in accordance with the instructions of the court, so help you God.” Subsequently in the instructions the jury is instructed, “When it is time for you to decide the case, you are only allowed to consider the evidence that was admitted in the case.” You may have deduced at this point the significance of what evidence is admitted, and when that evidence includes prior questionable sexual  or criminal conduct, what are referred to as “prior bad acts” then a jury can reach the wrong verdict for the wrong reasons.

Criminal Sexual Conduct and the Exception to Rule of Prior Bad Acts.

Generally, evidence of your prior bad acts is not admissible pursuant to Michigan Rules of Evidence (MRE) 404b. But your past can come back to haunt you when it falls under one of the permitted and enumerated exceptions that we’ll address below. Michigan Compiled Laws sec. 768.27a is not an enumerated exception under 404b, but by legislation permits the admission of other ‘listed’ prior bad acts involving a minor when the defendant is charged with criminal sexual conduct involving a minor. Further, our Michigan Supreme Court has held that MCL 768.27a prior bad acts is not prohibited by 404b but only must meet the threshold of MRE 403 and to use the People v. Watkins balancing test. One of the most important roles for a Trial Attorney is not their well-crafted opening statement or questioning of witnesses, but what happens before the trial ever begins, and specifically preventing potentially damaging evidence from ever getting to the jury.

Love is Blind. Justice is Blind. But here is what we SEE in Divorce and the Criminal Justice System.

The Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm focus their practice on specific and complex criminal defense cases, like those involving allegations of criminal sexual activity and abuse. These criminal sexual conduct (CSC) and child abuse cases are handled in the District and Circuit Criminal Courts when charged by the State or County Prosecutor, and in the Family or Juvenile Court when authorized by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) often referred to as Child Protective Services (CPS). The may also often have a federal component, especially when allegations involve allegations of possession, receipt or production of child pornography.  We have found that such allegations arise out of or are raised in the backdrop of divorce. The allegations of criminal sexual conduct and child abuse often come immediately preceding, during, or soon after divorce papers are filed, and therefore, the divorce is the common denominator.

According to the statistics in the 2018 State of Michigan’s Department of Community Health Report there were 56,374 marriages, and possibly not surprisingly, 28,186 divorces. This number may be surprising to the romantic, and validating to the cynic, but all can reasonably agree that there are significant emotions involved when a marriage is ending.  These emotions, when coupled with children being involved, can lead to allegations for legal leverage and quite frankly to hurt the other party. Motivated by money, or custody, or fear, or anger, allegations of criminal sexual conduct or child abuse put the accused in a very difficult position emotionally and legally.

In cases involving allegations of child abuse or physical or sexual assault against a minor will involve a process known as a Forensic Interview.  In some cases, a law enforcement officer or investigator will be trained in this method but in the majority of cases the minor will be brought to a specific facility, clinic or center to be interviewed by a trained professional.  The goal is to obtain a truthful statement from the child that will lead to fair decision making in the criminal justice system.  Michigan, like many other states, have outlined the process and procedures for a proper and ideally reliable forensic interview.  One such piece of published material is in Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) – PUB 0779 and is a great tool for attorneys to study, learn, and use during cross-examination, if necessary.

The Forensic Interview is Specifically Designed to Follow a Process Known as Phases.

The Phases include:

To prove a Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) case in Michigan a prosecutor must use evidence that is deemed admissible and the lawyer for the accused has an absolute right to see all that evidence before the case proceeds to trial.

If you are charged with CSC in Michigan your Sex Crimes lawyer will obtain all the evidence known to the prosecutor by a process that is called Discovery.  Discovery is governed by Michigan Court Rule (MCR) 6.201.  That chapter of the MCR covers what is considered Mandatory Disclosure, what is Known by the Prosecutor upon request of the Defense, and what is Prohibited.  Under the Rules of Discovery, the Duty to update and provide the defense is on-going.  This means that a prosecutor must continually provide any updated information.

What is Mandatory Discovery in a Michigan Sex Crimes Case?

The answer to this question depends on many factors, including the facts of your case, your prior criminal history and the discretion of the judge presiding over your case. While the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” is at the heart of our criminal justice system, it isn’t always on the heart of the Judge making the bond determination. When applied to those charged with sex crimes, Michigan jurisprudence does have limitations, especially when it comes to bond and pretrial release.

Once the prosecutor has made the decision to charge you with a sex crime, which in Michigan is called “criminal sexual conduct,” the first court hearing is called an arraignment.  The Michigan Rules of Criminal Procedure have laid out the factors to be considered and followed at the time of your Arraignment, and generally focus on two main points. The first is the likelihood you will appear in court for all future hearings, and the second is the protection of the public.  Any concerns on either of those factors will increase the financial amount of the bond, and the conditions imposed upon you.

What Happens at the Arraignment on a Charge of Criminal Sexual Conduct?

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