Posts Tagged ‘felony’

Why Does the Public Have a Negative Opinion of Lawyers?

February 11, 2011 1 comment

Without a doubt, I’m sure that you have heard jokes about lawyers. You may even have a few of your own. My question is why do people have such a negative opinion of lawyers?

Since I’ve become an attorney, I have listened to the horror stories of several disgruntled individuals who have fired their lawyer and needed someone else to handle their case. While I haven’t kept track of their complaints, there were a few common threads that stuck with me:

  1. Poor Communication. By far the biggest complaint that I have heard from people is that their lawyer did not return their phone calls.
  2. They Charged Me Too Much Money.
  3. They Didn’t “Fight” For Me.

Please comment with your thoughts on this topic.

Lohan To Be Charged With Felony Count Of Grand Theft « CBS Los Angeles

February 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Lohan To Be Charged With Felony Count Of Grand Theft « CBS Los Angeles.

In my opinion, due to the fact that Lohan is already on probation, her lawyers have a very difficult job in keeping her out of jail this time. In my experience as a criminal defense attorney, when a client has a pending probation violation, the old case (or case for which they are on probation) will direct the outcome of the new case.  This is because the client is not only facing the new charge, in Lohan’s case a felony, but also the allegation that they violated the terms of their probation by committing a criminal offense while on probation. Judges are often not pleased when a criminal defendant comes back into court with a new charge because most judges look at probation as a gift – it is an alternative to jail or prison. 

Lohan’s attorney will be pushing hard for some kind of plea deal that will involve no jail on the new case. However, even if they secure this kind of deal from the prosecution, the defense will also have the hurdle of convincing the judge who originally sentenced her to probation that no jail is necessary for the probation violation. The judge may want her to serve some time for the probation violation, which may mean that she will take the new grand theft case to trial. In Michigan, getting the judge commit to a sentence before a guilty plea is entered is what is commonly callled a “Cobbs conference,” which usually is an agreement between the judge and the parties that if the defendant were to plead guilty, then the judge would agree, for instance, that the defendant would not serve any initial term of incarceration. If the judge later determines that she/he cannot abide by the original agreement, then the defendant is entitled to withdraw his/her guilty plea. In my experience, many judges in Michigan are willing to engage in this type of conference with the lawyers on each side as it is a way that can quickly and efficiently resolve criminal cases. On the other hand, a shrinking minority of judges take the position that these type of plea agreements take away from their discretion to impose a sentence.  

In any event, Lohan’s lawyer will be earning their money.

In Michigan, “Sexting” Could Land Your Child in Prison and on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry

February 10, 2011 2 comments

As we all know, the cell phone and smartphones have changed our society and the way in which we access and send information. Unfortunately, children who have access to these devices have started the practice of sending sexually explicit messages and images to others. What most people don’t know is that your child may be charged with a felony for each time they send or receive a sexually explicit image.

The Michigan statute that prohibits this conduct, MCL 750.145c, penalizes three specific types of behavior:

  • Producing or Encouragement – persuading, inducing, enticing, coercing, causing or knowingly allowing a child (defined elsewhere as someone under the age of 18) to engage in a child sexually abusive activity (intercourse, erotic nudity, etc.) for the purpose of producing any child sexually abusive material (films, pictures, digital images, etc.) is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 20 years or a fine of not more than $100,000.00, or both.
  • Distributing – a felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison, or a fine of not more than $50,000.00, or both.
  • Knowingly Possessing – a felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison, or a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both.

In addition, even if your child is given a special status for youthful offenders (HYTA), then they will be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Sound harsh? Well, it does to this writer too. To be fair, this law was originally enacted in a different time and fails to take into consideration the significant technological advancements that are now mainstream.   While I do not condone or encourage the prevalence at which our teenagers are engaging in sexual activity, it would be naive to become ostrichlike and bury our heads in the sand and ignore what is going on with our teenagers.

Taking into consideration that engaging in this type of activity could result with a felony on a teenager’s record, potential prison time and registration as a sex offender, the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime. Still not convinced? Let’s consider for a moment a scenario where a teenager texts his girlfriend and encourages her to send a nude photo via text or email. The teenage boy then sends the nude photo to his friend. Under the current statutory scheme, everyone involved in this scenario is guilty of at least one felony and the boyfriend could be charged with the 20 year felony for encouraging his girlfriend to take the nude photo and send it to him. He is also guilty of the 7 year felony for distributing it to his friend and the 4 year felony for possessing the photo. The friend is guilty of the 4 year felony for possessing the photo and finally the girlfriend, like the boyfriend, is guilty of the 20 year felony for producing the photo, the 7 year felony for distributing the photo, and the 4 year felony for possessing the photo.

While other states have considered lesser penalties for this type of offense, Michigan continues to take an outdated approach. Until this law is modified to take into account the changes in technology, parents need to police their children’s use of the internet and texting.

Teen arrested after shining laser in pilot’s eyes –

February 9, 2011 1 comment

Teen arrested after shining laser in pilot’s eyes –

As reported in the article, there were more than 100 cases of laser pointers being shined in cockpits around LAX in 2010. At this time, Michigan does not have a statute that criminalizes this behavior. However, in 1998 the City of Dearborn enacted an ordinance making it a misdemeanor to harass someone with a laser pointer.

A bill, “Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act,” has been introduced four times in the U.S. Congress, however has yet to be enacted. If enacted, it would make it a federal crime to shine a laser pointer into the cockpit of an airplane, punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine.

21-year-olds provided alcohol to Holt crash victims, prosecutor says | Lansing State Journal |

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

21-year-olds provided alcohol to Holt crash victims, prosecutor says | Lansing State Journal |

If convicted, the three charged by the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.00 on each count. 

Individuals should be very aware and take great responsibility when any guest consumes alcohol at their home. This area of law is commonly referred to as “social host liability.” Statutes and court case addressing this issue vary across the U.S. In Michigan, criminal liability applies only if a minor is involved, like the case above. Similarly in Michigan, a social host is liable only if alcohol is provided to a minor. 

In order to be proactive and avoid any potential liability, individuals who host a party where alcohol is being served should: 

  • Make sure no minors are served (ask for their driver’s license).
  • If possible, host the event at a bar or restaurant so that a bartender or waitress is responsible for checking identification or overserving.
  • Provide everything except the liquor, and host a cash bar – this removes you from being accused overserving guests.
  • Discourage guests from drinking excessively.
  • Stop serving anyone who appears visibly intoxicated.