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Lansing Criminal Defense Law Blog

Man who claimed self-defense not guilty of attempted murder

Though Michigan law punishes assault, manslaughter and other violent crimes very severely, it also recognizes that there are situations where violence is necessary. One such context is when the person accused of a violent crime had to use force to protect him- or herself from getting injured or killed by an attacker.

This is commonly known as self defense, and it is a valid defense to many criminal charges. Michigan’s self-defense statute allows individuals to use deadly force against someone else without being convicted of a crime, if the following applied to the situation:

What is embezzlement?

Have you been accused of embezzlement, or do you know someone who has? Embezzlement is a serious crime in Michigan, punishable by large fines and possibly time in jail or prison. But what exactly are the authorities saying a person did when they accuse him or her of embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a theft crime. Specifically, it refers to a person taking assets that belong to another party that had entrusted the person with. Think of an accountant for a business who has access to the company’s checkbook, and writes checks to him- or herself out of it.

New anti-human trafficking laws go into effect Jan. 14

Michigan has shifted its focus in regards to prostitution away from targeting sex workers for arrest and prosecution. Many sex workers are in fact victims of crime rather than criminals themselves. Realizing the reality of human trafficking, a series of new laws taking effect this week emphasize helping exploited sex workers escape their situation.

In October, Gov. Rick Snyder signed 21 bills related to combating human trafficking in Michigan. Eighteen of them officially go into effect on Jan. 14. One new law increases the potential penalties for a human trafficking conviction. Another provides state protection for juvenile sex workers.

6 common defenses to drug possession charges

The police say they found illegal drugs in your possession, or prescription drugs you don’t have the right to. They say they have you dead to rights, so you might as well confess.

Readers who ever find themselves in this situation someday should remember that police and prosecutors are interested in getting as many drug convictions as they can. Beyond the Miranda warning, it is not their job to inform you of your legal rights, or reveal where they may have violated those rights during the investigation or arrest process.

What is Medicare fraud?

Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the U.S., and the government is a part of it. Medicare provides health insurance for older Americans. Surely most of our readers are either on Medicare, or have relatives who do.

Because of the size and cost of this important program, the government is always on the lookout for what it describes as fraud. According to a website co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Justice Department, Medicare fraud occurs when the program is billed for healthcare services or supplies that were never received. The site says the government loses “billions of dollars” to Medicare fraud each year.

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.

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