St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Crisis Center Calls

Crisis Center Calls Not Privileged in Terrorism Prosecution

Crisis Center CallsA new ruling out of the Michigan Court of Appeals has set a serious precedent for defendants facing charges related to terrorism. Here’s the basic breakdown: An individual called a mental health hotline and spent around 80 minutes on the phone with an emergency services specialist. During the call, the individual made specific threats of violence. After the call concluded, the specialist reported the call to 911 operators.

The individual was charged with one count of threat of terrorism (based on the call) and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (discovered at arrest). Part of the prosecution’s case then relied on testimony from the emergency services specialist who took the call as well as recordings from the call itself. Later in the process, a circuit court granted the defendant’s request to exclude the testimony of this specialist and the call recording on the grounds that both represented privileged information.

The prosecutor in the case then challenged this ruling, and the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed that the privilege normally present in these types of calls was lost when the defendant made threats of violence against identifiable third party targets. In other words, there is no privileged information when it comes to specific threats that might reasonably be carried out. If you’re facing prosecution for a threat-of-terrorism charge, it’s vitally important that you speak with a Van Buren County criminal attorney to protect your privileged conversations and to be fully aware of your rights.

It’s also worth noting that the court reminded the defendant that he has full control over waiving privilege on his communications should he wish to introduce them as evidence in his defense. The threats and context surrounding them are considered admissible regardless due to the specific way in which they interact with threat-of-terrorism laws.

For more information or questions about how this ruling might affect your case? Please contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC today at 269.982.1100 or visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

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Criminal defense law

Self-Represented Defendant Gets Conviction Tossed

Criminal defense lawIn the United States court system, defendants are free to act as their own attorneys. This is almost universally a bad decision; unless the defendant is himself a lawyer, the chances of him providing adequate and effective legal representation are slim to none. Finding a criminal defense attorney in Berrien County is a much better option for those facing time in a courtroom.

Still, cases of people acting as their own attorneys do occasionally arise, usually with disastrous results. Take, for example, the case of Jimmy Aldaoud. Charged with home invasion, Aldaoud decided to become his own attorney and reportedly spent months studying law books. When he was (inevitably) convicted and sentenced to at least three years in prison, Aldaoud then appealed the decision on the grounds that the judge did not fully explain the risk of his acting as his own counsel and did not make clear the length of a possible prison sentence.

The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed, noting that there are verifiable, important steps that must be followed when a defendant chooses to represent him or herself. In this particular case, the county judge did not adequately explain the sentence. It would seem in this case that the defendant was lucky in how his case played out, but we cannot stress enough that it is always better to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney rather than risking your future by representing yourself in the court of law. The potential consequences of a felony conviction go far beyond the actual sentence — felony convictions can follow you for the rest of your life.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with one our experienced and reputable criminal defense attorneys please contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC at 269.982.1100 or visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com. We are here to help.

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