St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Further Funding Awarded to Michigan Drug and Sobriety Court Programs

Michigan Drug and Sobriety Court Programs

The state of Michigan has recently recognized that there is a strong need to reduce illegal drug use and alcohol consumption within the state. In furtherance of the state’s effort to accomplish this goal, the state has awarded more than $10 million to the state’s courts to fund the operation of drug and DWI/sobriety programs. These court programs offer an alternative to incarceration for offenders who have been ordered to enroll in a drug or alcohol court treatment program. Problem solving courts such as these are important to reducing recidivism within the state of Michigan. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a drug or alcohol offense or is under the jurisdiction of the drug and DWI/sobriety court programs in Berrien County, you need a knowledgeable Berrien County DUI Attorney such as Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC on your side.

Drug and DWI/Sobriety Programs Reduce Recidivism in Michigan

Michigan is willing to invest so heavily in its drug and DWI/sobriety programs because they have shown results. According to one Michigan Supreme Court justice, these court programs have demonstrated that they are effective at saving both money and lives as well as strengthening families and building stronger communities. In fact, a recent report complied concerning these drug and alcohol programs has shown that offenders who complete these programs are significantly less likely to commit another offense than their counterparts who did not undergo or complete the program; this applies to both the drug and the sobriety court programs. The rate of unemployment for the graduates of these programs was also reduced significantly and the ability to remain gainfully employed is an important factor in recidivism. The programs are especially beneficial to juvenile drug court graduates, 93% of whom improve their educational level after completing one of these programs.

Drug and DWI/Sobriety Courts are a Benefit to Both Offenders and Taxpayers

While most programs that benefit offenders cost taxpayers and vice versa, the drug and DWI/sobriety court programs that the state of Michigan has implemented is a benefit to both groups. One example of this is the sobriety court’s Ignition Interlock Initiative which allows ignition interlock devices to be placed on the cars of those who have been convicted of DUI offenses. This allows offenders to keep their license so long as they remain sober, which has reduced the rate of DWI recidivism among this offender group. Because the offenders who remain sober are rewarded by still being allowed to drive, they are more likely to keep their jobs and complete the program. This helps to cut down on the number of drunk driving related accidents and deaths on Michigan roadways.

If you or someone that you know has been charged with a DUI, a DWI, or a drug related offense and you would like to know if and how you can be ordered to attend one of these treatment programs, contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, today at 269.982.1100 and one of our highly experienced and reputable Berrien County DUI attorney will assist you or please visit

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Felony Sentencing

Felony Sentencing by Video Impermissible According to Michigan Supreme Court

Felony Sentencing

In today’s world, everything is becoming more and more technological, even court proceedings. For this reason, the Supreme Court of Michigan was recently considering the question of whether a defendant who is ‘present’ at court proceedings through videoconference could be sentenced in the same way as a defendant who is physically present in the courtroom. According to the Michigan Supreme Court, due to a presumption that being virtually present is not the same as being physically present for sentencing; a defendant cannot be sentenced by videoconference. Thus, a change to Rule 6.006(D) that would have allowed defendants present at a location other than in the courtroom to be sentenced for felonies has been rejected. If this proposed rules change applies to you or anyone that you know, you need a Michigan criminal defense attorney such as Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC on your side.

Reason that the Proposed Rule Change Was Rejected

The proposed rule change that would have allowed defendants who are in prison, jail, or another location to be sentenced by videoconference so long as they have waived their right to be present in the courtroom was rejected due primarily to the assertion that defendants may feel pressured to accept the high-tech option over actually being present in the courtroom. Because the use of videoconferencing could save both time and money for the court system as well as help the courts and those who work for them avoid the dangers associated with transporting some prisoners, there would be a strong incentive for judges, prosecutors, and prisons to push for videoconferencing in many cases, sometimes against the wishes of the defendant.

Another reason that the rule was rejected is that, according to some, it is vital that the defendant be present in the courtroom during sentencing as this is the defendant’s opportunity to address the court and for the victim to address the defendant.

In July, the Michigan Court of Appeals also ruled on the same issue in the case of People v. Heller in which the court found that the absence of the defendant from the proceeding nullified the dignity of the proceedings and the participants to those proceedings and rendered the proceedings fundamentally unfair.

Videoconferencing in Mental Health Proceedings

The Michigan Supreme Court also heard testimony concerning the use of videoconferencing in mental health proceedings in which the subject’s behavior may interfere with the hearing or the subject may be placed in danger by attending the hearing.

If you or someone you know is interested in gaining further information about videoconferencing at felony sentencing hearing and in mental health proceedings, contact Peter J. Johnson, Law Office, PLLC., Michigan’s top criminal defense attorney, today at 269.982.1100 for the best legal advice and representation or visit

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