Do you believe that the justice system is not fair? That it helps some while hurting others without any rhyme-or-reason to it all? These are common complaints because, admittedly, the justice system is imperfect. Plus, it will always feel unfair when you get the short end of the stick. That's why its important that those individuals who are a part of "the system," police, prosecutors, and judges, not only make sure to be impartial and objective, but also to work hard to remove the appearance of favoritism and subjectivity. It's because of these rules that the recent actions of four Wayne County prosecutors set off alarm bells.
When it comes to Self Defense & Guns, do you think a responsible gun owner defending his house from home invaders has nothing to worry about from the law? If so, think again. A 65-year-old Minnesota man shot a burglar at his home, but is now being charged with manslaughter. How could that be? It all comes down the facts and how the law sees them.
Self Defense & Guns are always a hot legal topic, and today is no different. The recent tragic accidental self-inflicted shooting death of a 9 year-old Detroit boy has prompted the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office to charge the boy's father with a laundry list of offenses including murder, which could land him in prison for life. Based on information from public media reports, if the father had followed the law, the firearm would not have been in the house. First, the shotgun involved has been described as being "sawed-off". In Michigan, shotguns are required to have at least an 18 inch barrel. Anything shorter than that is considered "sawed-off". Secondly, media reports state that the father is a felon. Felons are not permitted to possess firearms under federal and state law in Michigan.
In The Justice System, Prosecutors have an enormous amount of discretion in a criminal case. As a former prosecutor in the State of New York, and the Federal System in Detroit, I had the ability to decide who should be charged with a crime, what felony and misdemeanor charges should be filed, and when charges would be filed. Like all prosecutors, I also had the ability to negotiate plea bargains, dismiss charges, and recommend downward departures at sentencing. However, prosecutors cannot engage in conduct that amounts to selective or vindictive prosecution. For ethical prosecutors, this is not a problem. Unfortunately, some prosecutors cross the line. A recent google search for "prosecutorial misconduct cases" yielded over 150,000 results in .28 seconds.
When you have attorneys protecting your rights, there is no need to speak to the police or media. After Jodi Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder last month, during a television interview with KSAZ, she stated, "I would much rather die sooner than later." Apparently, Arias was surprised by the jury's verdict. She told the Phoenix television station, "[i]t was unexpected for me, yes, because there was no premeditation on my part," but she also stated, "I can see how things look that way."
In the Justice System, sentencing, and mandatory minimums for federal offenders are hot topics again. In March, 2013 Democratic Senator Patrick J. Leahy and Republican Senator Rand Paul introduced the Safety Valve Act of 2013. If the bill becomes law, it will allow federal judges to sentence offenders facing mandatory minimum sentences to less time in prison, regardless of the crime charged, provided that doing so does not jeopardize public safety. This does not mean that federal judges will be required to sentence offenders below the mandatory minimum, it merely permits judges to do so when the mandatory minimum sentence is unreasonable and does not fulfill the legislature's goals of punishment.
In the Justice System in America, it is generally not criminal to fail to render asssitance to an adult who could use your help. However, recently in California a nurse employed at an independent living facility, refused to provide CPR to a dying elderly woman because the facility had a policy against administering CPR to its members. Although the facility maintains that its members were fully aware of its no-CPR policy, police have opened a criminal investigation to determine whether any criminal charges should be filed.
Being convicted of sex crimes brings a heavy price, particularly in child pornography cases. Congress says that anyone convicted of child pornography must pay mandatory restitution for the total amount of the victim's losses. While federal courts cannot agree on how the law should enforce restitution payments in child pornography cases, the Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, which covers all of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, recently remanded two $1 million-plus restitution orders to the district court to determine the extent to which individual defendants must pay restitution where they share responsibility for the victim's injuries. The cases involved men who were ordered to pay full restitution for possessing images of the same victim, although neither man created the images, nor did they have any contact with the person in the images.
In The Justice System, it is obvious that state and federal felony charges can have serious consequences, including substantial incarceration, parole, probation, fines and costs, attorney fees, and non-citizen deportation.
Protecting your rights is becoming more difficult for Michigan Criminal Defense lawyers. It seems like every other week we're picking up the newspaper or listening to the evening news about a new way the government infringes on a person's privacy rights. As technology improves, not only do we need to worry about internet hackers, stalkers and identity thieves, but now we have to worry about the government as well.