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Lansing Criminal Defense Law Blog

Michigan man reaches plea deal in federal child pornography case

Your sexual orientation and what turns you on is not the business of the police -- unless child pornography is involved. Because the government is so aggressive about stopping child pornography from being sent through the Internet, people who solicit photographs from teenagers may find themselves charged with serious felonies.

For example, a Lansing man has pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child, in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges of child pornography. Authorities say the man and at least one female aged 15 to 17 shared fantasies of his being their “slave master” online, and that the girl sent him pictures of herself.

Civil asset forfeitures take your property, even without charges

Police who suspect a person of a crime may want to search the suspect’s home and seize possible evidence of that crime. The U.S. Constitution generally requires law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before they can enter your home or other private property.

But once they enter, police can seize assets and, potentially, never return them, even if the search and seizure never leads to criminal charges. This is a controversial police power known as civil asset forfeiture, by which officers sometimes take people’s bank accounts or other valuables.

What happens if I don't consent to a DUI breath test?

Imagine that you are driving home one night when the dreaded red-and-blue lights start flashing behind you. It’s a police officer pulling you over.

The officer says you were swerving and it’s clear he thinks you are over the legal limit for driving. He pulls out a Breathalyzer and tells you to blow into it. Should you?

Michigan State student arrested for 'threat' posted on app

Social media apps like Twitter provide users with a measure of anonymity, which gives some users the sense they can say things they would never say with their real name attached. Readers should be aware, however, that what they say over the Internet may be used as a reason to arrest them and charge them with a crime.

Recently, police arrested a student at Michigan State University on suspicion of making a terrorist threat. Authorities claim the suspect, who they say is 18 or 19, made the threat on Yik Yak, a smartphone app on which users make anonymous messages viewable by other users within a 1.5-mile radius.

Child abuse charges are very serious in Michigan

No criminal matter in Michigan is a joke, but an official accusation of child abuse can have serious consequences for the defendant. Law enforcement can be quick to take action when it believes a child is being abused or neglected.

As with most forms of domestic violence charges, a charge of child abuse likely will trigger two separate legal proceedings. Besides charging you with a crime that carries a potential jail or prison sentence, Child Protective Services may decide to intervene and take your children away from you. In some cases, CPS tells the court to strip you of your parental rights permanently. It can also gather evidence to be used in your criminal case.

Report says Michigan is 'overcriminalized'

Every once in a while, there is a news report about strange, obscure laws that remain on the books in Michigan or elsewhere. These stories are typically humorous, because they deal with laws that come from the 19th Century, or make seemingly old-fashioned actions a crime.

These laws are good for a laugh, because few of us are at risk of accidentally breaking them and facing prosecution. But other statutes indeed can affect our lives and lead to serious criminal charges. Especially here: Michigan lawmakers have quietly built one of the longest criminal codes in the Midwest.

What can the court do to a teen convicted of alcohol possession?

We all know that the legal drinking age in Michigan is 21 years old. We also know that many teenagers and 20-year-olds occasionally experiment with alcohol in high school and college.

Being a minor in possession of alcohol is a misdemeanor in Michigan. Teens may not think about this when they go to a party where alcohol is served, but they are risking a criminal conviction that may appear on their permanent record. Future potential employers may find it while conducting a background check. Mortgages and car loans may be harder to obtain, and even getting a visa to go to certain countries might not be possible.

Does Michigan law deal with tax crimes, like federal law does?

Having your taxes audited can be a lengthy and unpleasant process. But being charged with a crime related to taxes is arguably even worse, because a conviction could lead to prison time.

Someone facing charges related to their taxes could be charged at both the state and federal level, depending on the government’s claims against them. In other words, the IRS could get involved. The stakes will likely be high, so a defendant needs to make sure that they have an experienced defense attorney on their side.

Can police 'follow' me by tracking my cellphone?

Wireless technology allows us to stay in touch with more ease and convenience than ever before. A smartphone about the size of a deck of cards gives you the power to make calls, text and update your social media from almost anywhere in Lansing.

One trade-off that many residents are likely unaware they are making for this service is their privacy is being eroded. The same cellphone that keeps you in constant touch with the world can be used by state and federal law enforcement to follow you -- often, without having to get a search warrant first.

Assault charge dropped against Flint man after more investigation

Michigan police must have probable cause that a person committed a crime before they can arrest him or her. Even then, “probable cause” is not the same thing as proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In many cases, the accused person’s defense attorney will conduct an independent investigation, and find evidence that the authorities missed that disproves the defendant’s guilt.

Criminal charges against a Michigan man in relation to a bar fight were expected to be dropped. reports that new information has emerged that suggests the defendant was only defending himself against the alleged victim.

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