St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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trial case

Trials Often Turn on a ‘Mistake of Fact’

trial case

Believing something false can lead individuals into situations they would never accept otherwise. In a paternity case reviewed by Michigan’s Court of Appeals, a man wanted to revoke his affidavit of parentage once he learned he was not the biological father. Originally, the man acted on a “mistake of fact” asserting he was the father. A criminal defense lawyer can help defendants understand these distinctions during trial.

Defining a ‘Mistake of Fact’

In the appeal court decision, the judge defined mistake of fact as “a belief that a certain fact exists when in truth and in fact it does not exist.” This belief can lead to various actions with no basis in reality. The defendant found himself in such a situation. Told he was the only possible father of a child, the man agreed to sign an affidavit asserting he was the parent.

Later, DNA testing showed he was in fact not the father. However, his request to have the affidavit of parentage revoked was denied by the Ostego Circuit Court, which left the defendant on the hook for child support payments and other responsibilities typically reserved for parents. This is where an experienced and reputable criminal defense lawyer in Van Buren County needs to step in and help.

DNA Does Not Tell Whole Story

The appeals court went on to say DNA testing is not enough to declare a man parent or not. “Biology does not control either an acknowledgment of paternity or its revocation,” the court said in its decision. A man may attest to parentage to a baby out of wedlock and be held responsible for the protection and support of that child.

Nonetheless, the system breaks down when the basis of the man’s claims to paternity are based on a fiction, as they were in this case. Starting with a false statement, the man agreed to be considered the parent as an acceptance of responsibility. Therefore, his application to revoke his affidavit of parenthood was accepted.

A top criminal defense lawyer in Van Buren County such as Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC can help defendants in any trial case; especially ones of such nature. For further information or to schedule an appointment with one our highly experienced and reputable criminal defense lawyers please contact us at 269.982.1100 or visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

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Testimony

Prosecution Loses Guilty Verdicts Due to Misleading Testimony

Testimony

Everyone deserves a fair trial. With an experienced criminal defense attorney on the job, defendants can be sure the prosecution will play fair in every aspect of the law. In a recent Michigan Supreme Court case, we saw how the prosecution neglected to mention compensation a witness had received from law enforcement for his cooperation. As a result of this misleading testimony, the guilty verdicts were reversed and a new trial became necessary.

‘Substantially Misleading’ Testimony

People v. Smith involved a paid police informant testifying against the defendant charged with armed robbery and murder. During pretrial hearings, it was clear the informant was cooperating with the police in exchange for compensation. However, once the trial began, the prosecution allowed this fact to go by unmentioned, blurring an important line in the case.

In fact, the court found the prosecution “capitalized on and exploited” the fact the jury did not believe the witness was a paid informant. There were a number of other issues involved with the witness’s testimony. Had the jury been aware he was also a paid witness, there would have been little reason for them to believe him.

Protecting Defendants During a Trial

Someone could argue that this point should have been raised repeatedly by the defense before it went to the Supreme Court. A top criminal defense attorney in Berrien County would not let this distinction slip through during the course of a trial and send the jury into deliberation accepting testimony from a witness who was later discredited.

Felony trials often pivot on these small moments when a jury can be led to believe misleading information based on the way a prosecutor manipulates the evidence. If you or someone you care about needs representation against severe charges, only accept the help of the best.

When you need a top criminal defense attorney on your side to win your case, contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC at 269.982.1100 to begin preparing for the trial or visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com for further information.

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