Michigan is on the rise but not for the reasons you may think. A study was done in 2014 listed our state as the 49th highest ranked state for criminal sexual conduct (CSC) charges. A more recent study (2017) has moved Michigan from number 49 to number 2 in the United States. A close look into Michigan statutes displays that there are harsh penalties even when a promising plea is negotiated. One such law that often traps defendants is Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) 770.9b. This statute calls for the revocation on bond upon a plea of guilty to a CSC of a minor. To discuss this statute in greater detail, we spoke to several of the top criminal defense attorneys’ in the state of Michigan to gather input.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, and his firm is known as the top CSC defense firm in the Midwest. When asked about 770.9b. Grabel stated, “The statute is tricky because even when a no jail sentencing agreement is negotiated, one can have their bond revoked while waiting for their sentence. This is something that most defense lawyers are not prepared for, but the revocation occurs more than one would expect. There are ways to alleviate the revocation, but much of this depends upon which county that you are in.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan. Known as one of the top criminal attorneys in the state of Michigan, Amadeo stated, “I’ve had cases in Washtenaw, Wayne and Macomb County where the judge will agree to continue bond despite the plea when the victim is a minor. Other counties such as Shiawassee or Eaton County you need to prepare your client to have a 6-week stay in jail, even when the sentence is suspended. Judges in Jackson County view this as an “impact period,” and the reality is that if the lawyer does not know the rules of the locale, their client will suffer. I think Judge Nick Holowka said it best when I started CSC defense. He told me, “Bond is a privilege, not a right.” While he continued bond on my client that day, his words were powerful and have always stuck with me throughout my career.”
Ravi Gurumurthy is the founder of “Michigan Legal North” and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. When asked about the revocation of bond, Gurumurthy said, “The Northern part of our state has a very different view than say the Western portion. Bond arguments have to have strong preparation, and the continuance of bond requires the attorney to be on top of their game.”
Scott Grabel went on to add, “One thing about 770.9b that many forget is the 5-year age gap. With that game, a “Romeo and Juliet” defense can still be proffered, but again, that will depend upon the jurisdiction that you are in. One way to combat the pitfalls of 770.9b when a plea is in place is to have a persuasive sentencing memorandum prepared on the day of the plea.”
With CSC’s on the rise in Michigan, the legislature has become sterner with their views. While the “Does v. Snyder” case is providing a great deal of home for those on the registry, the role of defense counsel has become more critical than it ever has been.