Does it seem like getting a mere ticket for breaking the law is better than being arrested for committing a crime? It may seem so at first glance, and Michigan has enacted a law that expands the number of misdemeanor crimes that will result in a ticket rather than an arrest. However, is this too good to be true?
Prior to the enactment of the new law, police had the discretion to issue appearance tickets to those who allegedly committed low-level misdemeanors, meaning crimes that were only punishable by 93 days in jail or less. An appearance ticket contains information about when a person is to make a court appearance, and police can use it to cite a person rather than having to arrest and book them into jail.
The new law
Under the new law, most misdemeanor crimes and ordinance violations that would result in a penalty of 12 months or fewer in jail will be eligible for a citation rather than an arrest. Note that this does not include serious misdemeanors, assault crimes and crimes of domestic violence. However, police can still arrest a person if they do not follow police directions, do not provide identification, if it is likely that the person will continue committing the crime if not arrested, if the person is a danger to themselves or others or if there is any other “reasonable” reason for arrest. The new law aims to reduce the number of people admitted into the state’s jails as well as prioritizing public safety resources.
Is this new law too good to be true?
It may seem like fewer arrests in lieu of more citations is a good thing. And generally, it is. However, even a misdemeanor ticket charges the recipient with a crime that could result in jail time and the lasting stigma of a criminal record. This could lead to job loss, housing loss and loss of child custody. These are devastating effects that follow a citation as well as an arrest. Therefore, if you or a loved one receives a misdemeanor ticket or citation in Michigan, call us today. Or visit our firm’s webpage on criminal defense if you want to learn more. Your freedom and reputation may depend on it.