Stay of Execution Granted Due to Bogus Evidence

Shared from the ever so awesome Keeley Heath with the firm, Miel & Carr, serving the criminal defense needs of Grand Rapids and Stanton, Michigan.

http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/hours-before-execution-a-state-court-grants-willie-manning-a-stay/275631/

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It’s Only A Misdemeanor…

Criminal cases are never easy. Occasionally, in the hallways just outside the courtrooms, I hear attorneys tell their clients “it’s only a misdemeanor”; as if clients find comfort in those words. However, many clients don’t understand the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. For some, their arrest and arraignment represent their first contact with the criminal justice system. While, it is true, in the abstract, that felonies carry more severe penalties than misdemeanors, the latter can still drastically impact people’s lives.

Misdemeanors come in many shapes and sizes; some with severe social, legal, and collateral consequences. A good example of a misdemeanor with severe consequences is the recent San Francisco Superior Court’s sentence of a 23 year-old bicyclist for vehicular manslaughter. J. Robert Mortland III, Esq. wrote about it on his blog today. The cyclist ran a red light and struck a 68 year-old pedestrian who was crossing the street with her husband. While, it was only a misdemeanor, the lives of everyone involved changed drastically. If you want to read more about the case and the cyclist’s sentence, visit Mr. Mortland’s blog here. It potentially could have been much more severe. What do you think?

It’s easy to forget about real life drama these days when everyone is talking about the Bachelor and why bachelor Ben Flajnik’s chose Courtney Robertson over Lindzi Cox; or, why Randy Moss gets to sign a new one-year-deal for something he didn’t do, e.g., he didn’t play last year; or even, how JonBenet Ramsey’s father finds shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras” disturbing. Yet, I hope people remember that their lives can change in an instant. All it takes is one missed opportunity, one wrong decision, or one false accusation to bring someone face-to-face with the criminal justice system. Then, reality t.v. or the “Hunger Games” premiere will pale in comparison to their real life drama.

If you’re facing criminal charges, or the police are investigating you for some reason, call an attorney who concentrates his practice in criminal defense. Even if you are only being charged with a misdemeanor; you don’t want to get a one-year-deal for something you didn’t do.

Law Office of Matt Vititoe • www.monroelawyer.wordpress.com • read reviews and endorsements here.

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Restitution: What every criminal defendant should know.

Did you know that Michigan law requires persons convicted of crimes to reimburse the victims of those crimes?
  • Did you know that the amount of restitution is often wrong?
  • Did you know that you can challenge the amount of restitution before it is ordered?
Before I began representing them, my clients didn’t…. One of them told me, “I never had anyone fight for me before; I was just told I had to pay it (meaning restitution).
The authority for restitution comes from the Michigan Constitution 1963, Art. 1, §24, the Restitution Act, and the Crime Victim’s Rights Act. All of the above provide that victims of crimes have the right to restitution. The right to restitution has been construed to mean that a court must order a criminal defendant to pay restitution at the time of sentencing, if:
  • victim of a crime has suffered a loss; and
  • that loss is the direct/proximate result of the criminal defendant’s actions or his/her course of conduct.
However, restitution is not a foregone conclusion; it may be challenged. The law states that criminal defendant’s may dispute restitution at sentencing. This is critical, because sometimes the amount of restitution is wrong, or it shouldn’t be ordered at all; because, the victim has already been reimbursed or the property was returned or never actually taken, destroyed, or damaged.
When the amount of restitution is disputed, the court must conduct a hearing to determine whether restitution is appropriate and how much that restitution should be. Prosecutors have the burden of proof at this hearing. They must prove:
  • the loss was caused by the criminal conduct the defendant; and
  • the fair market value of the loss; or
  • if that cannot be determined, the replacement value of the loss.
Often, people who are convicted fail to challenge the amount of restitution; they realize later they should have, but the opportunity is (by then) forever lost. An attorney familiar with restitution issues could have helped them. If you are facing criminal charges or have been convicted but not yet sentenced, and you would like to protect yourself, contact me. Criminal convictions are expensive enough without having to pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars more than you should.