Michigan’s Eavesdropping Law Explained

In the state of Michigan, laws against eavesdropping have been around a lot longer than most people realize. The technology of the past (or lack thereof) made eavesdropping an issue that most people never had to worry about. Today, however, we have the ability to record audio and video from a multitude of devices, namely from our cell phones. Today’s technology has allowed everyone to have the ability to easily record audio and has put the Michigan eavesdropping statute into sharper focus. The Michigan eavesdropping statute makes it a felony to use a device to record another’s private conversation or to help someone else do so. If you are a party to the conversation, only one party has to know or give consent to the recording for the recording to be legal. This means that you can secretly record your conversation with someone else as long as at least one person that is present in the conversation, in this case you, consents to it. A prosecutor also has to prove that the recording was done intentionally. Many devices record things automatically, so a prosecutor may have a problem proving intent in a given eavesdropping case. In a previous blog, we discussed that a conviction for eavesdropping carries up to two years in state prison and a fine of up to $2,000. If you are facing a criminal charge for eavesdropping, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. iStock_000008058975_XXXLarge-2-300x200

Detroit Federal Judge’s Opinion and Request

Expungements in Michigan

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently signed into law an expansion of the state expungement statute making more people eligible for expungement as well as making some expungements automatic. An expungement is a legal process where a court will remove one or more criminal convictions from your permanent record. You are not able to expunge every type of criminal conviction, so it is important to understand the new law as it applies to you. A 2019 University of Michigan study found that only 6.5% of people who are eligible for an expungement get their records cleared within five years. So, 93.5% of people who have a criminal record and are eligible for an expungement to remove the criminal conviction don’t get it done within the first five years they are eligible to do so. These convictions can hurt your ability to find good employment, can limit where you are able to live, and can otherwise be a black mark on you that limits your opportunities. These startling statistics symbolized the need for an expansive change in the expungement process leading to new Michigan expungement laws. to-sign-a-contract-2-1221951-m

Major Changes in New Expungement Laws

Original Case Details

On May 1, 2008 Richard and Brenda Kowalski were shot and killed and later found dead at their Livingston County home. Richard’s brother, Jerome Kowalski, was named as a suspect and brought in for questioning. Battling an alcohol addiction, Jerome believed at first that he may have been guilty of committing the crimes but didn’t remember. He later realized that he could not have done it when he learned what type of gun the murder weapon was from the detectives. The detectives started to assert that Jerome’s sons were involved in the murders and threatened to bring them in for questioning. Afraid for his sons, Jerome gave the police a signed confession which he would later recant. It was later shown at trial that the time of death was in the middle of the night while Jerome was actually at work. Then-Judge Theresa Brennan refused to allow an expert witness to discuss the science behind false confessions. In 2013, Jerome Kowalski was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Richard and Brenda Kowalski and was sentenced to life in prison by then-Judge Brennan. It was later discovered that Brennan was having an affair with the lead detective and failed to recuse herself and lied to cover the affair. She has been removed from office and criminally convicted. Due to Brennan’s misconduct, Jerome Kowalski’s conviction was vacated in January 2019, and he is now headed towards a re-trial. The new judge on the case, Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart recently ruled in favor of allowing a false confession expert to testify in the retrial. iStock_000008551433_Large-2-300x200

When are Expert Witnesses Necessary?

Original Case Details

Michelle York, a 33-year-old woman from Wyandotte was arrested and charged after allegedly pulling a gun on a DoorDash delivery driver and firing at him during a dispute. The driver spoke with police and stated that York became angry regarding her order from McDonalds and allegedly pulled a gun and fired shots at him. The gun allegedly misfired on the first shot, and York then attempted to fire at the driver two more times and missed both times. Police responded to the scene, and after a short standoff, the woman was taken into custody. She was charged and arraigned on seven felony charges related to the incident. York’s bond was set at $100,000/10% which was later posted, and York was released from custody. As a condition of her bond, she is required to be monitored through an electronic GPS tether. She continues to be out of custody and monitored by a tether as of this writing. iStock_000008551433_Large-2-300x200

What are the Woman’s Criminal Charges for Allegedly Shooting at Driver?

Original Case Details

On April 5th of this year, the rapper Eminem woke up to find a man standing behind him in his Clinton Township home. Investigators say that Eminem initially thought the person standing behind him was his nephew but was surprised to find out that it was a complete stranger. Eminem asked him why he was there, and the man, identified as Matthew David Hughes, said he was there to kill him. During the preliminary exam hearing, Clinton Township police officer Adam Hackstock testified that when he arrived at Eminem’s home in Clinton Township, he found Eminem’s security guard fighting with Hughes. Police were able to take Hughes into custody without much incident or struggle. Police testified that a brick was found inside the house next to a broken window where Hughes is said to have entered the home. Security footage is said to show that Hughes was on the premises of Eminem’s home for a while before he entered the house through the broken window. Hughes was unarmed when he was taken into custody and did not use or attempt to use any weapons during the alleged crime. Hughes was scheduled to take a competency evaluation but later turned it down. His defense attorney has stated on the record that he thinks there are mental health issues involved in the case. 657836_forced_entry-300x224

Charges and Potential Penalties for Eminem’s Alleged Home Invader

Original Case Details

Deandre Williams, a 28-year-old man from Detroit stands accused of killing a Wayne County Sheriff’s deputy in the Wayne County Jail while he was being held on carjacking and weapons charges. Cpl. Bryant Searcy was killed as he made his rounds checking cell doors in the Wayne County Jail. According to authorities, Searcy closed a door he thought was locked and continued walking in an attempt to secure the next areas of the jail. The door unfortunately wasn’t locked, and Williams allegedly jumped out and attacked Searcy, choking him and beating him, finally taking Searcy’s keys to try to escape. Williams allegedly acted alone in attacking the Wayne County Deputy and attempting to escape from the Wayne County Jail. Deputies found Searcy unresponsive and had him transported to the hospital where he later died. shutterstock_92369299-300x200

Criminal Charges for Alleged Cop Killer

Original Case Details

A 44-year-old man from Novi was recently federally charged for allegedly committing fraud to obtain over $3 million in federal pandemic loans. He is alleged to have developed a plot to cheat banks by submitting applications for loans that had false and fraudulent information. He was flagged for 19 different loan applications that were all allegedly tied to him in some way. The information submitted for these loans includes paperwork for multiple businesses that either did not exist or did not actually have the employees and wage information that the man allegedly submitted. One of the businesses listed was called “Bless My Grind LLC.” The loans, if valid, would have been distributed by the federal government under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The PPP allows businesses who qualify to receive loans at a 1% interest rate which can later be forgiven if the businesses spend the money within a specific time period with a minimum percentage going towards payroll expenses. Federal authorities have placed a special focus on investigating and prosecuting those who they suspect of fraud related to the pandemic fund and pandemic assistance. This is the latest in a wave of federal pandemic fraud cases that the federal government has pursued. It is expected that cases similar to this will become more commonplace as federal authorities continue to investigate pandemic assistance claims. index2-300x129

Federal Wire Fraud Charges and Related Penalties

Original Case Details

A 60-year-old dump truck driver from Chesterfield Township is facing charges relating to the death of a 10-year-old girl in a traffic accident. A months-long investigation has indicated that the dump truck driver ran a red light at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Ryan Road in Warren, MI, causing an accident. A mother and daughter were coming out of a Tim Hortons restaurant after they had stopped in for a breakfast sandwich. It is alleged that the mother’s car ran into the dump truck after the dump truck ran a red light which caused a front-end loader construction vehicle to fall off the attached trailer and onto the car, crushing it. The mother made it out alive with minor injuries, the young daughter unfortunately did not. The 10-year-old was fatally crushed as a result of the accident. The man turned himself into Warren police to face arraignment of his charges. iStock_000000687101_Large-2-300x200

Criminal Charges Faced by Dump Truck Driver

Courts During the Pandemic

Courthouses across the state of Michigan are slowly trying to phase in the remainder of regular courtroom activity. Courts have been reopening different departments as they follow social distancing guidelines and the reopening plan set by the State Court Administrators Office (SCAO). Courts will not truly be open, however, until they are able to conduct in-person jury trials. Once this occurs, then it can be said that Michigan courts are really back to work as they were before the pandemic. Jury trials have been backed up in all courts across the state as they are the last thing on the list that courts will be able to do once open. In St. Clair County, trials have been postponed since April because of the pandemic. It looks as if that will soon change if a Circuit Court judge’s ruling denying a motion to adjourn jury trials stands. If your case has been delayed due to a court closure, or you do not have information about your case, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can best help guide you. index2-300x129

Judge Decides to Move Forward with Jury Trials

Original Case Details

Kiernan Brown, a 28-year-old Delta Township man recently withdrew his guilty pleas after being accused of beating two women to death and was reportedly also looking to kill others on a killing spree. He stands accused of trying to break into his ex-girlfriend’s house during May 2019 before attempting to complete a plan to kill four different women. He was allegedly successful in killing Kaylee Brock in her home in Holt, MI and Julie Mooney in a motel room in Meridian Township on the same day. Medical examiner results showed that both women died from blunt force trauma from numerous blows to the head. Sheriff’s deputies later pulled Brown over on the freeway and Brown allegedly confessed to the murders and even showed the deputies pictures of the bodies of the victims on his cell phone. Brown was also on parole at the time of the offense for a strangulation felony and domestic violence charges. He was also accused of violating a personal protection order that was in place against him from a former girlfriend. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Judge Aquilina’s Rejects Plea Deal

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