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Lansing Criminal Defense Law Blog

Common defenses to child abuse charges

Back in November, we discussed how an accusation that you have committed child abuse, including based on an anonymous tip, can result in a jail sentence and the loss of your parental rights over your children. This is because the law seeks to protect children from physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of their parents or other adults.

This is an important and noble goal, but what happens when you have been falsely accused of abusing your son or daughter? How can you defend yourself against the power and determination of the prosecution and clear your name?

Smartphone pics and Internet sex charges

Thanks to the cameras in smartphones, human beings may be taking more photographs than at any time in history. Certainly, the Internet is providing an easier way than ever to share pictures around the world.

Many of these pictures are the ever-popular “selfie,” short for self-portrait. The idea of using a digital camera or phone to take a picture of oneself has become so pervasive that “selfie” was the 2013 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. Most selfies are innocent enough. The picture taker wants to show themselves at various locations to inform and impress their social media followers.

Falling short of a crime may still lead to charges in Michigan

News reports about someone being arrested on suspicion of a crime often mention that the person was taken into custody on suspicion of an attempted crime. That concept may seem strange when you think about it: falling short of committing a crime is often, in itself, a crime.

The elements of attempt vary, depending on the state, but in general there are two elements that prosecutors must show to convict someone of an attempted crime, such as attempted embezzlement or attempted sexual assault. First, the defendant must have had actual intent to commit the crime, a legal concept known as specific intent. Generally, merely intending to hurt a person is not considered specific intent to kill him or her, so an attempted murder charge would not be appropriate.

Justice Dept. to stop helping local police seize suspects' assets

Never thought that police officers or other government agents could seize your property and claim it for themselves without you even being convicted of a crime? Until very recently, this was a common practice between local law enforcement, including here in Michigan, and the U.S. Justice Department. In Michigan alone, police have collected more than $72 million from suspects -- again, not convicts -- since 2008.

The program allowing this system to function is called the Equitable Sharing Program. When a state or local law enforcement agency seizes assets officers suspect of being connected to a crime, often illegal drugs, they will send it to the Justice Department. The local police then request that the feds forfeit the suspect’s rights to the property.

Charges dropped in Michigan armed robbery for lack of evidence

As most of our readers know, in Michigan prosecutors have to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This high standard of proof is one reason prosecutors often try to extract a guilty plea from the accused, perhaps as part of a plea bargain. They often would rather not roll the dice on going to trial, especially when the evidence against the defendant is shakier than they would like to admit.

Sometimes, the prosecution will charge a person, continue investigating, then drop the charges for lack of evidence. That appears to be what happened in the case of a Michigan man accused of robbing a grocery store security guard.

Elements of Michigan's sexual assault statute

As with other serious crimes, Michigan’s criminal code divides different forms of sexual misconduct into four degrees of severity. Depending on what the prosecution claims the defendant did, he or she could face a relatively light prison sentence, up to a life sentence. Registration on the state sex offender list may also be at stake, based on what level of sex crime you are charged with.

The lowest level of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in Michigan is fourth degree, which is a misdemeanor. This involves sexual contact that included force, coercion, victim incapacity, or the fact that the defendant works for the Department of Corrections and the victim is an inmate. The maximum penalty for fourth degree CSC is two years in prison and a fine of $500.

The impacts of having a drug offense on one's record

There are many different things that being charged with drug offenses has the potential to impact. One is a person's permanent record, as a person can end up with a significant stain on their record if they are ultimately convicted of drug crimes.

Does the condition of a person's permanent record really matter that much? The answer to this question is a big yes. It is very important to not underestimate how impactful having drug offenses on one's record can be. It can end up touching many aspects of a person's life.

How does the insanity defense work?

In our last post, we discussed a case where a man was found not guilty of a violent crime, after the jury found that he was acting in self-defense. In most states, self-defense is an affirmative defense to certain criminal charges.

An affirmative defense gives criminal defendants the right to acknowledge that they committed the acts the prosecutor claims they did, while also providing an explanation that excuses those actions. Affirmative defenses recognize that sometimes, a person is not in control of his or her actions.

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.

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