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Lansing Criminal Defense Law Blog

For Now, Life Imprisonment for Juveniles Requires a Jury

In a decision likely to be appealed, the Michigan Court of Appeals recently decided that the Sixth Amendment requires juveniles facing the sentence of life imprisonment without parole to have their sentence determined by a jury.

The 4th Amendment's search warrant requirement, and exceptions

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects us from “unreasonable searches and seizures” of our “persons, houses, papers and effects.” It is one of the most important rights we enjoy against government power in this country. It generally requires law enforcement to obtain a search warrant from a neutral judge before conducting a search of a person’s property. This prevents the use of random house-to-house searches for evidence of crime, and other government abuses.

However, the Fourth Amendment’s power is not unlimited. As we will discuss today, there are exceptions to individuals’ right not to be subject to warrantless searches and seizures.

Can I sue after the police violate my rights?

A criminal defendant whose constitutional rights were violated by police, prosecutors or both may have several legal recourses. Perhaps most important is to convince the judge that evidence gathered as the result of unconstitutional tactics not be allowed at trial. In most cases, authorities should not be allowed to profit from abusive, illegal conduct like warrantless searches, racial profiling and so forth.

By the time everything has been sorted out in criminal court, a wronged defendant’s life may have been significantly harmed by unconstitutional behavior. They may have lost their job or even physical harm at the hands of the police. When someone purposely or negligently causes you physical or financial harm, it is natural to consider a civil lawsuit to recover damages.

Detroit police to wear body cameras by 2019

As the U.S. continues to grapple with the issue of African Americans being the repeated victims of police shootings, many people have called for officers to wear body cameras. They believe that these cameras would provide an objective recording of confrontations between police and suspects, and may deter aggressive or illegal police procedure.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan agrees with the idea. He recently announced that all police officers and marked patrol cars in the city will be equipped with cameras by 2019. Duggan said he wants “every officer-citizen interaction” to be recorded, in order to “hold people accountable who do something wrong.” Body cameras would also contradict false accusations against police or suspects, Duggan added.

Michigan man charged with embezzling $20K from youth sports team

A Michigan man involved in fundraising activities for a youth baseball team is facing up to 50 years in prison for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars. The severity of the potential punishment shows how seriously anyone who is ever charged with embezzlement should take the situation.

The Detroit News reports that authorities claim the defendant took more than $20,000 raised for the Detroit Metro Stars youth baseball team between 2012 and 2014. The money was raised at so-called “millionaire parties,” which are casino-style events where attendees gamble and keep a small portion of their winnings. The rest goes to the charity hosting the party.

Does everyone on Michigan's sex offender registry deserve it?

Michigan’s sex offender registry contains the names of people convicted of very serious crimes, such as rape and possession of child pornography. But registering as a sex offender is a requirement for many more crimes than one might realize. For certain offenses, it may even seem questionable to require registration.

According to The Detroit News, Michigan has more people on its sex-offender registry than every state except California, Texas and Florida -- the three most populous states in the country. The list is currently about 43,000 names long. Among those on the list are many teenagers convicted of statutory rape for having sex with fellow teens who were below the age of consent.

Michigan Supreme Court deals with medical marijuana law, again

It has been nearly seven years since Michigan voters passed a referendum to legalize medical marijuana in the state. However, people continue to get arrested for growing and selling medical marijuana, forcing the state Supreme Court to interpret the law time and again.

In fact, a recent decision issued by the Court is the ninth time the justices have addressed Michigan’s medical marijuana law, according to MLive. This time, the Court combined two cases where licensed distributers were arrested for drug trafficking and denied the right to immunity under the medical marijuana law.

Michigan Drunk Boating

If you are one of the approximately 800,000 people who own a motorboat in Michigan, you should be aware that the state has been strengthening measures to prevent drunk driving of watercraft. Drunk boating has repeatedly been cited as the leading cause of fatal accidents on the water, and contributes annually to non-fatal accidents and collisions.

National coalition urges criminal justice reform, including in MI

Reform of the criminal justice system has been on the minds of many people in Michigan lately, after President Obama’s recent speech calling for the end of over incarceration and later visit to a prison. As we discussed back on July 15, Obama spoke to at the NAACP’s national convention, where he noted how mandatory minimum sentencing has disproportionally and dramatically affected America’s African American and Latino communities, and how people often have few opportunities to turn their lives around after leaving prison.

Shortly after this speech, a national coalition of nonprofit organizations formed called the U.S. Justice Action Network. The group hopes to press for the sorts of reforms urged by Obama and others concerned with apparent problems with the current criminal justice system. On its website, the group says it will “work across the country to pass legislation to end overcriminalization,” reduce the national prison and jail populations, and help prisoners successfully reenter society.

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