Criminal Law and Procedure

Salinas v. Texas: Claiming the Right Against Self-Incrimination

The Supreme Court today ruled that a witness who wishes to use the protection of the Fifth Amendment privilege must claim it explicitly at the time he relies on it. In the case of Salinas v. Texas, Salinas voluntarily went to the police station to answer questions regarding a murder. During questioning Salinas did not respond when asked if he thought that the shotgun shells found at the scene of the crime would match the shotgun he owned. […]

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Maryland v. King: Police May Take DNA Samples from People Arrested for Serious Crimes

The Supreme Court in Maryland v. King ruled that taking DNA samples from individuals arrested for serious crimes does not violate the Fourth Amendment, reasoning that the procedure was no different than photographing and fingerprinting. Justice Scalia authored a scathing dissent, writing that, “Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes; then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration […]

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Medical Marijuana Patients Gain Some Protection From OWI Laws in Michigan Supreme Court Ruling

The Michigan Supreme Court in People v. Koon ruled that medical marijuana patients cannot be convicted of a zero-tolerance law that prohibits drivers from having any amount of marijuana in their blood stream. For a medical marijuana patient to be convicted of an operating while impaired offense involving marijuana the prosecution must now prove that the driver was actually under the influence of marijuana while driving. “While we need not set the exact parameters of when a person […]

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Moncrieffe v. Holder: Marijuana Distribution Crimes No Longer Lead To Automatic Deportation For Noncitizens

The U.S. Supreme Court in Moncrieffe v. Holder today ruled that a marijuana distribution crime is no longer an offense that will lead to automatic deportation for noncitizens. Before today’s ruling such crimes were considered “aggravated felonies,” a class of offenses that foreclose the opportunity for noncitizens to obtain discretionary relief from deportation. For a marijuana distribution crime to be an aggravated felony now it must be established that the defendant either distributed the marijuana for payment or […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Requires Warrants For Blood Draws From Drunk Driving Suspects

In Missouri v. McNeely, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to adopt a rule that would permit police officers to draw a drunk driving suspect’s blood without a warrant under any circumstance. McNeely was pulled over by a highway patrol officer at about two in the morning. The officer observed that McNeely had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and smelled of alcohol.  McNeely performed poorly on several field-sobriety tests and declined a breath test. He was arrested and taken to […]

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Organized Retail Crime

A new law targeting organized shoplifting rings goes into effect today. Organized retail crime is now a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, a $5,000 fine, or both. Restitution will likely be ordered. Read the full Organized Retail Crime Act. A person is guilty of organized retail crime when that person does any of the following; 1. Knowingly commits an organized retail crime. 2. Organizes, supervises, finances, or otherwise manages or assists another person […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Limits the Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs in Win For Fourth Amendment Rights

In the case of Florida v. Jardines, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government’s use of a drug-sniffing dog to investigate the home and surrounding area is an unconstitutional  “search” under the Fourth Amendment in a win for privacy rights. In 2006, two detectives brought a drug-sniffing dog to the front porch of Florida resident Jardines. The dog sniffed around the front porch of the home and then sat down near the base of the front door, […]

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Michigan Criminal Trespass Laws

Trespassing is entry onto another person’s land without permission.  Michigan state law forbids trespassing and contains provisions for trespassing in specific situations. Townships and cities generally have ordinances prohibiting trespassing that are not listed here. In addition to fighting the trespass charge, there are several options to keep a trespass conviction off your permanent record, such as deferred sentencing or Holmes Youthful Trainee status.                             […]

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What is a Killebrew Agreement?

A Killebrew agreement is plea bargain in which the prosecutor promises the defendant will receive a particular sentence. Plea bargains area  common part of criminal law. A plea bargain is where a person admits guilt in exchange for a benefit in return. Common plea bargains may involve a guilty plea in exchange for a dismissal of a charge, or a reduction of the charges. Plea bargaining speeds up the disposition of cases, especially where there are no disputed factual […]

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The Court of Appeals Discusses Noncitizen’s Eligibility for Parole from Prison

In Chico-Polo v. Department of Corrections, Chico-Polo was convicted of delivery/manufacture of a controlled substance greater than 650 grams and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He filed for relief in trial court to compel the defendant, the Department of Corrections, to parole and release him to the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). MCL 791.234b provides that the parole board shall place a prisoner (who meets certain criteria) on parole and release that prisoner to […]

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