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Lansing Criminal Defense Law Blog

Michigan judge admits seeking romance with probationer

Michigan’s criminal justice system can only work if everybody involved follows the rules. For example, police are not supposed to arrest someone or seize potential evidence of a crime without obeying proper procedure. Prosecutors and defense attorneys must follow rules of civil procedure in court. Even the judge presiding over the trial is constrained by ethical and legal obligations.

When one of these figures fails to follow the rules, justice is not served. This includes when a judge attempts to begin a romantic relationship with someone still under his or her control, as a Jackson County judge recently admitted doing.

Bill would repeal 'stand your ground' self-defense in Michigan

We have spoken before in this blog about the concept of self-defense. It is a legal defense that may be available to a person charged with violent crimes such as murder and manslaughter. The principle behind self-defense is that we all have the right to do what is necessary to protect ourselves from mortal danger.

Traditionally, in order to successfully invoke self-defense, a defendant generally had to show that escaping the threat of imminent physical harm was not possible. But like several other states, Michigan has a law that expands the right to self-defense. Known as a “stand-your-ground” law, it removes the requirement to seek retreat as the first option. Instead, someone can use deadly force against another individual as long as:

Prosecutors accused of forcing labs to go around med. marijuana law

If a shocking accusation against Michigan’s prosecutors and crime labs is true, the two are working together to circumvent the state’s medical marijuana law. The scheme allegedly is to find a way to charge medical marijuana users with a felony.

An attorney for a man charged with felony drug charges related to hash oil is making this claim. He says documents uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act request indicates that prosecutors are ordering scientists at crime labs to report that THC in oil, wax and possibly edibles is “of unknown origin” if they cannot see plant material.

Michigan's criminal intent requirement may get tightened up

An old maxim says that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Still, it would not sit well with most people in Michigan to wind up arrested and charged with something they did not even suspect was against the law.

This is more possible than readers might realize. One study cited by Michigan Capitol Confidential claims that the average American unwittingly commits three felonies per day.

All-white death-row jury case reaches Supreme Court

The Bill of Rights guarantees most criminal defendants that they can have their case heard by a jury of their peers. But African Americans on trial for serious crimes often find few, if any, black faces among the jurors deciding their fate.

This observation, made by prosecutors and other critics, is at the heart of a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 2. Attorneys for a black man on death row after being convicted in 1987 in the killing of a white woman. His attorneys are arguing that their client’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated when the prosecution carefully removed all African Americans from the potential jury pool, to ensure an all-white jury heard the case.

Juvenile LWOP Sentences Again Under Supreme Court Consideration

In Miller v. Alabama, decided in 2012, the United States Supreme Court determined that mandatory life imprisonment without parole (LWOP) sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. Consistent with this opinion, states cannot require the automatic imposition of such a sentence for juveniles. Juvenile offenders may still receive LWOP, but only after individualized consideration of their character and youth. Michigan has since implemented MCL 769.25 to ensure that youth is appropriately considered when the prosecutor seeks the sentence of LWOP for a juvenile.

Some Michigan inmates may get earlier chance at parole, part II

Welcome back. Last week, we began discussing a ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals that could impact the ability of several longtime prisoners to get their parole application heard a little early. In today’s post, we will discuss that ruling, and why it will not affect the vast majority of Michigan’s inmate population.

To briefly recap from last time, back in 2008, a man serving 20 to 30 years for armed robbery and conspiracy began asking the Michigan Parole Board to consider granting him early release. With credits on his record for good behavior, the man’s “net minimum” release date was Oct. 2, 2013, while his original minimum date of release is not until July 2017.

Some Michigan inmates may get earlier chance at parole, part I

Under Michigan’s so-called “truth in sentencing” law, prison inmates cannot make themselves eligible for parole sooner through good behavior. This law was enacted in 1998, meaning that some people convicted and imprisoned before that time are still able to accumulate disciplinary credits to move up their “net minimum date,” or the date they are first eligible for parole.

A recent ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals may make it easier for a handful of inmates to get a shot at getting parole. The Lansing State Journal reports that the court ruled that, when it comes to those termed “habitual offenders,” parole boards should not wait for the sentencing judge to weigh in before considering parole.

Don't accidentally waive your Miranda rights

Perhaps the two most important parts of the typical Miranda warning police must inform a suspect of while arresting him or her are the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney. These are distinct Constitutional rights, but are related, in the sense that they are intended to protect suspects from being tricked, intimidated or forced into a false confession.

However, though the right against self-incrimination is innate in every American, the system does not assume that you have invoked every time you are under police interrogation. Indeed, after you have been informed of your Miranda rights, you must clearly invoke your rights to remain silent in order to enjoy its protection.

What to do when Stopped by Police in your Vehicle

Being stopped by a police officer can be a stressful and frightening experience. The following is a list of suggestions on how to handle when you are stopped for questioning by police while driving in order to preserve both your safety and your constitutional rights.

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