St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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About the Miranda Warning

Update: Police Have No Duty to Inform You an Attorney is Attempting Contact

About the Miranda Warning
You’ve seen it in countless films: the suspect, sitting at an interrogation desk, forcefully telling the police that he won’t be saying another word until his lawyer arrives. And while there’s some truth to the notion that a suspect does have a right to have an attorney present (it is among the so-called Miranda rights), there are technicalities that make this right a little more complex than you might think. Peter J. Johnson, a leading criminal lawyer in Michigan, wants you to know exactly what rights you have when the police are interrogating you.

About the Miranda

Warning
Police are required to deliver their state’s version of the Miranda warning to all suspects in police custody. You’ve heard the gist of it in movies and television. The part we’re talking about today is the “You have a right to an attorney” part. Essentially, it means that you have a right to have an attorney present during all police interactions and to have an attorney defend you in court proceedings.

However, it is possible for suspects to waive their Miranda rights. If you elect to speak with the police without an attorney present and indicate to the police that this is what you intend to do, you have effectively waived your right to have an attorney present. This is where things get complicated.

According to a 2014 ruling out of the Michigan Supreme Court, People v Tanner, the police are not required to inform you that an attorney is attempting to contact you if you have already waived your Miranda rights. Once you agree to give a statement without an attorney present, the police are under no obligation to suspend actions when and if an attorney shows up. If you do not waive your Miranda rights, the police cannot speak with you unless your attorney is present and statements they obtain without an attorney present may not hold up in court.

Any criminal lawyer in Michigan will advise that you do not waive your Miranda rights. Speaking with an attorney is critical if you want to ensure you are aware of all of the options available to you. If you have questions about Miranda rights or recent court rulings, please contact us for assistance via www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com or 269.982.1100.

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Michigan Supreme Court Rules on Miller v Alabama

Update: Michigan Supreme Court Rules on Miller v Alabama

Michigan Supreme Court Rules on Miller v Alabama

Peter J. Johnson is a leading criminal defense attorney in Michigan who works to ensure the rights of his clients are always respected and to help his clients understand how laws affect ongoing or concluded court proceedings. At the Law Office of Peter J. Johnson, we believe that it is of the utmost importance that our clients are well-informed as to the impact that recent court decisions or legislation can have on their particular case.

With that in mind, here’s an update on a major decision out of the Michigan Supreme Court:

Miller v Alabama

In 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole should no longer be considered when sentencing juvenile offenders. The Court held that such sentencing was unconstitutional in that it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Court did not dictate whether this decision would apply retroactively; in other words, juvenile offenders already serving life sentences were not guaranteed a re-trial, leaving the matter up to the states.

Juvenile Offenders in Michigan

On July 8, 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its decision in People v. Carp, a case dating back to 2006 in which a 15-year-old was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The challenge from the defendant was essentially framed as an appeal to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to take the Miller v Alabama case into mind. The Michigan Supreme Court, however, determined that Miller v Alabama does not apply retroactively, and thus cannot be considered in this type of appeal.

The issue is far from settled. A U.S. district judge has ordered parole hearings for juveniles sentenced to life before the Miller v Alabama ruling, but Michigan Attorney General Bill Shuette is currently appealing that decision. Michigan inmates will, therefore, need to wait for the dust to settle before any re-sentencings might occur.

The future of juvenile offenders in Michigan is unclear. While they can no longer be sentenced to life in prison, those who were sentenced before Miller v Alabama may end up having to serve their full sentences. Criminal defense attorneys in Michigan (and their clients) are all awaiting more news from the federal courts to see where this issue will go next.

For more information on this matter or to schedule a free consultation, please visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com or contact us at 269.982.1100.

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Sex Offender Registration Act

Sex Offender Registration Act

Sex Offender Registration Act
At Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC we work hard to ensure our clients are informed as to how changes in the law may impact their court proceedings, their rights, and their sentencing. It’s not just about fighting for our clients in the courtroom; we want our clients to feel like they have all the necessary information to understand the charges they face and all of the potential outcomes they can face. This attention to detail is just one reason Peter J. Johnson is considered a leading Michigan criminal attorney.

Senate Bill 221 has been signed into law and took effect on April 1, 2014 with big changes to the way convicted sex offenders are treated. Here’s what you need to know:

Registration Fee

All registrants must pay a $50 fee annually (with a $550 lifetime maximum) to register. This fee allegedly goes toward maintaining the public sex offender registration website. It can be waived for 90 days if the registrant can prove indigence (inability to pay); anyone who fails to pay the fee within 90 days of the due date will be considered guilty of a misdemeanor.

Verification Changes

The law also changes your month of verification based on the month of your birth. Registrants will have the entire month to verify instead of the old standard of 15 days; indigence is still an option for registrants but needs to be verified every 90 days as the law currently states. Tier I registrants report once per year during their birth month, Tier II registrants report twice per year, and Tier III registrants report four times per year. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2013-2014/publicact/pdf/2013-PA-0149.pdf

It is vital that you understand the way in which this new legislation affects your registration and verification deadlines. You should have received an email from the Michigan State Police outlining how these changes impact you specifically. For more information or inquiries please visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com or contact us at 269.982.1100.

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Prison Populations Surging Due to Over-Policing of Non-Violent Offenses

Prison Populations Surging Due to Over-Policing of Non-Violent Offenses

Prison Populations Surging Due to Over-Policing of Non-Violent Offenses
When you think of prison, it’s possible you think of a dark, dank place packed with violent criminals and murderers. This is usually how prisons are portrayed in movies and on television, leaving people who do not work in criminal justice (or who have not visited prison themselves) with a vastly incorrect view of what prison is actually like. The truth is that a great majority of inmates are actually non-violent offenders serving time as a result of over-policing and over-sentencing.

In fact, only a small percentage of inmates are currently imprisoned due to violent offenses. Consider the stats: 50% of the United States prison population (in 2014) is serving time on a drug-related charge. Only 2.8% are in prison for homicide, aggravated assault, or kidnapping offenses. Immigration charges account for 10.6% of inmates, yet weapons violations account for only 5.4%. When you study the statistics it’s easy to see that the United States’ over-aggressive policy on non-violent crimes is a major contributing factor to the vast overcrowding we’re currently seeing in our prisons.

When combined, non-violent immigration and drug offenders account for over 60% of all incarcerated individuals. 27.6% of drug offenders were convicted of charges related to marijuana, which is now legal in two U.S. states with activist groups working to turn the other 48 via voter initiatives and legislation changes. That’s a staggering number of prisoners serving time for a non-violent crime that may not even be a crime in Washington or Colorado (circumstances vary due to the legal limits on possession in these states).

The federal prison population has increased by 790% since 1980; drug crimes started to see heavy prosecution in the 80s and this method of enforcement has continued well into the 21st century. If you’re fighting non-violent charges in court, bringing in a leader in criminal defense in Michigan will help you to be aware of your rights and to ensure those rights are served. Don’t become another statistic.

For more information or inquiries please visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com or contact us at 269.982.1100. Peter J. Johnson is a leading provider of criminal defense in Michigan, and an advocate for change of policy for non-violent offenses.

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Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Statistics for Michigan

Domestic Violence
There’s no question that domestic violence is one of the most common tragedies in the United States. Every year, police respond to thousands of domestic violence calls, though not all of those calls actually make it into the court system. If you’re searching for a criminal defense lawyer in Michigan due to a domestic violence charge, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the statistics related to this particular bracket of crime.

Raw Stats

According to this report from the Michigan State Police (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/2007DomesticViolence_277451_7.pdf), in 2007 98,436 individuals were charged with domestic violence offenses. Strangely, in the majority of cases no injury was reported, with minor or unknown injuries making up the next two brackets. Lacerations were the most common major injury. The age of victims also tells a story, with the great majority falling between the ages of 20-29 or 30-39. Domestic violence is least common in the elderly population.

It’s not just about the core domestic violence charges. Many crimes are connected to domestic violence, including assault, murder, and sexual abuse. For example, 93 murder/non-negligent homicides were reported in association with domestic violence in 2007, as were nearly 56,000 non-aggravated assaults.

Sentencing Guidelines

Sentencing for domestic violence charges depends on the exact charge, as you may imagine. Domestic assault carries a penalty of up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine, but only on the first conviction. Penalties increase with repeated offenses; the third conviction, for example, carries a penalty of up to two years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.

Domestic violence that ends in serious injury (aggravated domestic violence) carries penalties of up to two years in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Michigan is a strong first step toward ensuring the court doesn’t just slap you with the maximum penalty and in making sure your rights are respected.

For more information about domestic violence or other criminal defense matters please visit www.attorneypeterjohnson.com or contact us at 269.982.1100.

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