What is Expungement?

An Expungement is a legal process where you are able to remove one or more criminal convictions from your record. Not all convictions are eligible for expungement, and surprisingly, most people never seek an expungement when they are eligible. A 2019 University of Michigan study found than less than 10% of those eligible for expungements even apply for one in the first place. If you are eligible for an expungement, you have to file a motion and request that a Circuit Judge remove your conviction from your record. The prosecutor has a right to be present and be heard at an expungement hearing, as do any victims related to the original conviction. If the judge agrees to expunge your conviction, then your fingerprint card is destroyed, and the conviction is removed from your permanent criminal record. Once that happens, you will never have to check the box on a job application ever again stating that you have a criminal conviction. This process may seem daunting, but an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to help guide you without too much of an issue. iStock_000013860209_Full-2-300x200

Current Rules

Original Case Details

This case garnered national attention when it first occurred. It involves a 55-year-old retired firefighter, who shot at a lost teenager who had stopped at his house to ask for directions. The teenager was black, and the man was white. The man, Jeffrey Zeigler, was convicted by jury of assault with intent to do great bodily harm as well as felony firearm for shooting at the teenager as he ran away from the house. Luckily, the teenager was not shot in the incident. Surveillance video from Zeigler’s home showed the teenager running away at the time the shots were fired. Zeigler was sentenced to 2-10 years in prison for the assault charge as well as an additional two years for the felony firearm conviction. 17821516_s-300x199

How the Sentencing Guidelines Work

The System of Judges Typically

Most people don’t really know that much about the judges that preside in their hometowns and federal courts. Most time, the only interaction people have with a judge is to appear in front of him or her to pay a fine for a traffic ticket or something similar. All judges in those situations are generally fair and nice, as the people on the traffic docket in front of them are not there for criminal offenses. Other than, “the judge was nice to me,” what did you actually learn about that judge and his or her beliefs or policies? Many times, judges simply get elected on name recognition, and re-elected because they get to run as an incumbent. Incumbents generally win judicial elections unless there is some sort of scandal or issue that marks a sitting judge. Judicial appointments, nominations, and endorsements are just as political as the rest of our process, it’s just hidden a little better. If a judicial seat opens up in the middle of that seat’s term, then the governor or the president will appoint judges to fill those roles for the remainder of their terms. Once they run in the next election, they get to run as in incumbent, a huge advantage.

There are about 1,700 federal judges and about 30,000 state judges nationwide. Federal court is home to about 400,000 cases per year, while state courts account for over 100 million cases each year. From a traffic ticket, to a divorce, to a criminal case, these sitting judges have a huge say in how you live your lives. It is important to know who your judges are, what they stand for, and what kinds of misconduct they have committed, if any. The-History-of-Criminal-Law-Pic-300x200

What is a Diversion Program?

A diversion program is a type of probation for people who are first time offenders for various crimes. When people enter a diversion program, they are typically expected to complete a specific style of probation that is tailored to their specific situation and crime. If they are successful in completing the diversion program probation, then the case is dismissed or made non-public in some way. Many diversion programs are centered around cases that involve drugs and alcohol. But did you know there are diversion programs that help veterans and people with mental health issues? There is even a diversion program for first time domestic violence offenders and for youths under the age of 21 who accused of committing a wide range of crimes. young_offender

A list of diversionary programs in Michigan includes the following:

Michigan Courts Before Pandemic

The tradition and way of doing things within courthouses across the state of Michigan before the COVID-19 has always been slow and resistant to change. While some courts and jurisdictions have embraced technology and made their courts more efficient, this was hardly the norm. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack recently testified to a U.S. Congressional panel about the typical operation of courts pre-pandemic stating that technology has brought “much-needed change” to the justice system. Chief Justice McCormack stated that the pandemic drove more change in three months than has occurred in in the past three decades in the state of Michigan. She noted that even though this pandemic was not the disruption anyone was looking for, it was the catalyst to transform the Michigan judiciary into a “more accessible, transparent, efficient, and customer-friendly branch of government.” index2-300x129

Changes in Michigan Courts

Original Case Details

A teenage man from Muskegon has been given a second chance by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Carvin Bailey was convicted by a jury back in 2018 of assault with intent to do great body harm, as well as felony firearm. Bailey was sentenced to prison, where he currently resides. The Michigan Court of Appeals, however, has recently ruled to give him a new trial. The Court found that the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury on self-defense when before they started deliberations. Bailey shot another teen who had been harassing him, threatened him, and showed up to his house where a confrontation occurred. There were allegedly several witnesses who watched the men confront each other. Bailey claimed self-defense, but the judge only gave the self-defense instruction for one of his charges, failing to instruct that self-defense also applied to other counts. Bailey was convicted and sentenced to a 3-year minimum prison sentence, which had a consecutive 2-year prison sentence tacked on for the felony firearm charge.iStock_000013709005_Medium-300x210

The maximum Bailey can face is 12 years in prison for these convictions. His maximum sentence on his assault charge is 10 years, plus an extra two years added on to whenever he is paroled on his assault charge. Once Bailey serves his minimum three-year sentence, he will then be eligible for parole where he will either be released, or “flopped” for another year before going in front of the parole board again. He will again either be released or flopped and will continue this cycle each year until he is either paroled or serves the maximum of his sentence. A felony firearm conviction simply adds two years to any prison sentence. If you are sentenced to probation for a felony, but get convicted of felony firearm, then you will spend two years in prison for the felony firearm conviction.

Original Case Details

An international drug ring is alleged to have been operated out of the Alger Correctional Facility in Munising, which is almost 50 miles east of Marquette. The Alger Correctional Facility is a 900-inmate capacity state prison operated by the Michigan Department of Corrections. The drug ring is alleged to be distributing crystal meth, heroin, and cocaine that is being supplied by deported ex-cons just south of the border in Mexico. Michigan corrections officers searched the Alger Correctional Facility in May and uncovered a “virtual drugstore” inside the cell of an inmate. The investigation focused on Dontay McMann, who agents believe is a dealer along with another inmate, Juan Meija. Agents say the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) found a hidden piece of evidence in McMann’s cell along with information gained from a secret wiretap. Investigators raided McMann’s prison cell and found more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, 120 tabs of LSD, 80 strips of Suboxone, a scale, and a knife. An electronic typewriter was also found, in which there were three phone storage devices and a cell phone. Currently, nobody has been formally charged with anything. Those alleged to be a part of this drug ring are facing a variety of potential federal drug trafficking charges, as well as conspiracy charges. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

What’s Next?

Original Case Details

A man convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct won a legal victory on a constitutional issue in the Michigan Supreme Court recently. The issue decided by the Michigan Supreme Court was whether a defendant in a criminal case has the ability to decide whether remote testimony can be allowed in a trial. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled 6-0 in favor of the man, stating that the remote testimony in his case violated the confrontation clause of both the United States and Michigan Constitutions. This is a blow to prosecutors, who were looking to have remote testimony become more of the norm due to costs and convenience. The Court made it clear that the right to confront accusers in person and the ability to decide to waive that right rested only with defendants, not prosecutors. If an accused agrees that remote testimony can be given against him in a case, then and only then, will it be allowed. The obvious fear from defendants and their attorneys is that when testimony is given remotely, it does not always accurately represent what a witness’s testimony really looks like. A jury in this situation is not given the opportunity to use their abilities to read body language, but most importantly, it flies in the face of what the Sixth Amendment intended, the right to be able to confront your accusers in court, and question them in a public forum. The case will now go back to a lower court who will view the video testimony that was given in the man’s case to determine if a different result would have occurred had the testimony been in person.282848_law_library

The Confrontation Clause

Original Case Details

54-year-old Charles Pickett was convicted back in 2018 of 14 criminal charges in the death of five bicyclists in Kalamazoo County. Pickett’s convictions included five counts of murder in the second degree, five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death, as well as four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury. Investigators say that Pickett took various drugs and proceeded to drive his pickup truck into a group of cyclists. Pickett killed five bicyclists and injured four others from a bicycling group known as the “Chain Gang.” Toxicology results showed Pickett to have been under the influence of methamphetamine, muscle relaxers, and pain medication at the time of the accident. In June of 2018, Pickett was sentenced to 40 to 75 years in prison by Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Paul J. Bridenstine. Pickett won’t be eligible for parole until he’s 90 years old. iStock_000025943007_XXXLarge-2-300x200

The Appeal

Military Gear Program

Did you ever wonder how and why police departments have so much military gear? Aren’t tanks, rubber bullets, and tear gas actually military weapons that are reserved for warfare against other countries and not to be used against your own people? Well the reason that police forces have so much military hear is due to the federal Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program. This program gives excess military equipment that might otherwise be destroyed to law enforcement agencies across the country for FREE. All of this equipment is simply given, not sold, to law enforcement agencies. The military equipment that is donated would include clothing, office supplies, tools, vehicles, and guns etc. Since the beginning of the program, LESO has transferred more than $7 billion worth of military gear to law enforcement agencies nationwide. That is $7 billion in tax-payer money that could be used on items that aren’t directed at your citizens. Items that are obtained through LESO can be sold off after one year as long as the money is then put back into the police department for improvements. The LESO program has contributed to police departments nationwide acting more as a militarized unit of control, as opposed to a community service-oriented agency aimed at protecting its people. A bipartisan group of congressmen are making a push to change or shut down the LESO program because of the way these military weapons are being used against Americans. mi-state-seal-300x300

Michigan Program

Contact Information