St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Medical Marijuana Laws

Michigan Legislature Revisiting Medical Marijuana Laws

Medical Marijuana Laws
Since Michigan Medical Marihuana Act passed in 2008, the state legislature makes it difficult for patients who depend on this treatment to obtain it. If legal roadblocks have affected you, finding it impossible to legally access the medical marijuana that you need, a criminal defense attorney is your best ally in navigating this process effectively.

After the original law passed in 2008, dispensaries selling medibles increased across the state of Michigan. However, in 2013 Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that all forms of non-smokable marijuana is illegal, leaving those who need and use medical marijuana without many options.

Michigan is one of three of 23 states that allow medical marijuana. For now the only legal way for 100,000 state approved users who need medicinal marijuana in Michigan to obtain it is to grow their own or purchase it from a designated caregiver. However, designated caregivers are limited at this time to only having five patients.

Recently, the Michigan House Judiciary Committee began new hearings regarding two medical marijuana bills. The new laws, if passed, will be looking to make both dispensaries and medibles legal possibilities to those who need them in Michigan. These two bills passed last year in the House, but were intentionally held up in the Senate. The opposition claims that users of medical marijuana are just looking to get high and having dispensaries is just legalizing the drug.

If you are an approved user or an owner or potential owner of a dispensary and feel that your rights have been violated, you have come to the right place. The expert criminal defense attorneys in Cass County and surrounding areas at Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, are here to help. For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 269.982.1100 or visit

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Sex Offender registration act

What to Do with the Federal Decision re Michigan SORA

Sex Offender registration act
Recently, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled portions of Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry law unconstitutional. This ruling will effect future restrictions and guidelines that registrants must follow in regards to school zones and reporting requirements. There are a lot of questions that surround the court’s ruling. To understand the details of this ruling and what’s at stake, it’s important to work with an experienced sex offender attorney.

For now the courts rulings only fully protect those who filed in the lawsuit, but this does open doors for others on the registry. The ruling found that the 1000-foot school safety zone is unconstitutional, because the boundaries of these zones are not clear. Even most law officials cannot tell where the zones begin or end. This doesn’t stop law officials from making possible arrests. It is still advised to not live, work or venture into these zones until the law has more clarity.

The ruling found that registrants do not immediately have to report new email addresses, instant messaging accounts, or other devices for postings and internet communications. However, registrants still must report such online communication tools by their regular verification dates. These should still be reported in-person. The court has not made a decision yet on whether or not in-person reporting is unconstitutionally burdensome.

It is best to keep up to date on the latest information surrounding the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act. With the recent court’s ruling the legislature may choose to rewrite some parts of the law that were questioned during ruling or it may work to provide stronger guidelines surrounding the law. The law will most likely change and registrant obligations will change as well. It’s important to follow these changes to avoid violations and penalties.

The Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, is an experienced and reputable sex offender attorney in Berrien County and surrounding areas ready to fight for your rights. There are many questions surrounding the ruling and you deserve the most freedom the law allows. If you feel that your rights have been violated or feel this ruling may affect your case, contact us for further assistance by scheduling an appointment at 269.982.1100 or visit

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Roadside Sobriety Test

Roadside Sobriety Tests are Legally Admissible In Court

Roadside Sobriety TestMichigan drivers beware: Lawmakers have worked quickly to ensure that roadside sobriety tests can once again be used as evidence in court. The new legislation counteracts legislation enacted last year that had the unintended side effect of making these types of tests inadmissible in drunk driving cases, thus dramatically increasing the difficulty of earning a drunk driving conviction.

Public Act 315 of 2014 established new guidelines for enforcing drugged driving, making the existing laws tougher. However, this law also created a situation in which the legitimacy of field sobriety tests could be directly challenged. Says Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt, “It created an ambiguity in the statute where defendants are claiming, and an ever increasing number of judges across the state are accepting, that this renders all evidence of field sobriety tests inadmissible at trial.”

Legislators insist that the changes were completely accidental, and that it was not the legislature’s goal to weaken existing drunk driving enforcement. Thus, they were able to rapidly pass new legislation that once again affirms the use of roadside sobriety tests as evidence during court proceedings. An experienced and reputable Berrien County DUI attorney is your best ally when it comes to navigating current laws and in determining if the quick pace of the legislation might have some bearing on your case.

If you are stopped for drunk driving and a roadside sobriety test was performed, it is important that you have an attorney on your side who can defend your rights in court and work with you to find the best possible outcome. DUIs can be expensive and can impact your driving record for life if you handle them improperly. Thus, it is vital to work with a prominent Berrien County DUI attorney to forge ahead accordingly.

For further information or inquiries please contact us at 269.982.1100 or visit

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Michigan Sex Offender Law

Parts of Michigan Sex Offender Law Deemed Unconstitutional

Michigan Sex Offender LawMichigan’s Sex Offender Registry law establishes clear guidelines for convicted sex offenders on where they can live, where they can work, and where they are allowed to travel. However, it appears that portions of the law have been ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court Judge, citing issues with enforcing such guidelines and noting that certain ambiguities make it difficult for offenders to reasonably comply.

For example, the 1,000-foot school safety zone, which demands that sex offenders remain at least 1,000 feet from schools, leaves offenders wondering exactly where the safety zone begins and ends. In this case, the state of Michigan does not provide enough information to offenders to enable them to actually follow the restriction; thus, enforcing rules for sex offenders to avoid future infractions becomes difficult.

Other requirements struck down include a rule demanding offenders to report in person with any new email or instant messaging accounts along with any and all phone numbers they may use. According to the District Court, the law is so vague it leaves too much grey area for registrants to determine if they have adequately followed the law, and provides no guidance to law enforcement on how to deploy the law. Essentially, the judge ruled that many of the provisions of Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry law are too complex and convoluted for a reasonably intelligent offender to interpret without further guidance.

The Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, has years of experience fighting for the rights of sex offenders and ensuring they’re treated fairly by the law. Rulings like this show that when it comes to those on the offenders list, the state isn’t very concerned with protecting constitutional rights. Working with an experienced and reputable sex offender attorney in Berrien County is a powerful step in ensuring your rights remain protected. For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 269.982.1100 or visit

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Family Law

Consideration of Mother’s Wishes Overlooked in Key Decision

Family LawThe Michigan Court of Appeals has overturned a trial court’s decision to award paternal grandparents visitation with their grandchildren against the wishes of the children’s mother. According to the Court of Appeals, the original trial court did not show the appropriate level of deference to the mother’s wishes in establishing its decision. Working with an experienced family law lawyer in Berrien County is the first important step in ensuring your wishes are considered in a similar situation.

About the Case

The case was brought to court by the paternal grandparents of the children. The mother of the children was married to the plaintiff’s son, who passed away in 2012. When the mother decided she didn’t want the grandparents visiting with her children, the grandparents decided to take the issue to court and asked for grandparent visitation. The court eventually awarded the plaintiffs with designated visitation, claiming that there was “no reason whatsoever” to deny such time.

The mother appealed the case, stating that preventing children from visiting with their grandparents would not have a negative effect on the children’s well-being. While the original trial court’s decision was based on an idea of grandparenting being “good,” the appeal stated that no such precedent has been established and that the court abused its discretion in determining what was good for the children based on its own ideas about parenting.

Here’s appellate lawyer Liisa R. Speaker:

“The statute is very clear that a trial court cannot award grandparenting time unless the grandparents meet the burden of proving, at least by a preponderance, that there is a substantial risk of harm to the child in denying grandparenting time.”

The Court of Appeals sided with the mother, explaining that the trial court treated the case like a traditional divorce case and did not have any evidence to show that limiting access to the grandparents would harm the child. The Court of Appeals has now established that lay or expert testimony must be provided establishing negative consequence of blocking grandparent access in order for a similar decision to be made in the future.

Thus, it’s very important to work with a family law lawyer in Berrien County to ensure your case matches up with existing precedents and recent adjustments in the way laws are enforced. Decisions like this out of the Court of Appeals affect hundreds or even thousands of similar cases — it’s vital that you have an expert on your side to navigate the changing tides. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC at 269.982.1100 or visit

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