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Kalamazoo Criminal Defense Law Blog

A blurry line separates parental discipline from child abuse

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," the old saying goes. In a lot of ways, so is ugliness. Particularly, consider the ugly reality of child abuse. It does happen all too often. And when it does, it justifiably raises the hackles of people in Kalamazoo. The trouble is that it is a little hard to clearly define.

According to Michigan law, parents, guardians and anyone else to whom they give authority, has the right to employ some measure of corporal punishment when disciplining a child. The use of force is not ruled out, but the law says it must be "reasonable force." So, the next question becomes, what constitutes reasonableness?

What illegal drug trends are federal officials tracking?

The U.S. is engaged in a war on drugs. It's being fought on a lot of different fronts. It has international components, of course, but it is also being waged on the domestic front.

One such program in this regard is called the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program through which assistance is coordinated so that law enforcement agencies at all levels; federal, state, local and tribal, remain focused on what have been identified as the common threats.

Is racial profiling any less of a concern in Kalamazoo?

Racial profiling is one of those practices that a lot of police departments disavow. For some reason, though, it seems to continue to be a problem in Michigan and elsewhere. Where it is practiced, statistics tend to show that it results in people of color being the focus of a disproportionate number of traffic stops, unwarranted searches and arrests.

Sometimes criminal charges follow. But many times the traffic stops don't even result in the driver being issued a citation. While that might be offered up by some as reason to dismiss concerns about the practice, it really tends to feed the perception in a community that race plays a bigger role in how police enforce the law.

Michigan judiciary studying how to break debt-punishment cycle

The justice system says that if you are found to have broken the law you have to pay a price. A lot of times that price is a fine. Sometimes it includes charges to the defendant for the cost of the court proceedings or other fees.

In Michigan, we see that happening with many different crimes. Consider that a conviction of a first offense for operating a vehicle while intoxicated can result in a fine of up to $500. The amount of the fine rises with subsequent convictions for OWI to a point where if you are facing a charge of felony OWI you could face a fine of up to $5,000.

How has the concept of white collar crime evolved over time?

Prior to World War II, few people had ever heard the term "white collar crime." According to historic record, it only came into being as a category of crime in 1939 when sociologist and criminologist Edwin Sutherland used it in a speech before the American Sociological Society.

In Sutherland's original context white collar crime was used to describe "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation." Since that time, though, the list of crimes being lumped under the category has grown a lot and now encompasses individuals at many different levels of society. 

Meth possession and domestic violence charges follow traffic stop

We have observed more than once on this blog about how often a traffic stop by police turns into much more serious charges.

Typically, the subject of the arrest is the person stopped for the suspected traffic violation. But in a case making the news this week, there was a bit of a twist. The individual placed under arrest wasn't the driver, but another person who wasn't even in the vehicle. And the charges that man now faces are of a very serious nature. Consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney is very much in order.

Suspect's mental health questioned in Meijer tampering case

Establishing means, motive and opportunity are the traditional characteristics that are associated with the successful crime solving in the United States. In fact, lining up these elements is the way to win the game "Clue."

But real life is not a game and attempts to pigeonhole the investigative and prosecutorial process into a neat, three-bullet construct really don't work. In the U.S. legal system, conviction depends on proof of wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Even in the event of a conviction, there may be factors that serve to mitigate the culpability of the defendant. Identifying those factors is something for an experienced attorney to handle so that a case might be made to for leniency in sentencing. This may be particularly important in cases where state or federal felony charges are involved.

Do you know what to expect if you are arrested in Michigan?

There are a lot of things a person can wind up being arrested for in Michigan. In some cases, you might find yourself on the other side of a police interrogation table for something you didn't even know was illegal. More often, the allegations being made fall into well-known categories -- think drug crimes, violent crimes, fraud and drunk driving charges.

Regardless of the nature of the alleged offense, there is one thing that is common to all of them. The suspect will be placed under arrest. Do you know what to expect if it should happen to you? Here's a view of the general process, courtesy of the official website for the Michigan Courts. 

Charge of simple drug possession could end up being anything but

The government takes enforcement of drug laws very seriously. If you get stopped by police in Michigan for a traffic violation and happen to have even some small amount of illegal drugs on your person, you could wind up facing serious charges of drug possession.

It may well not matter if you haven't used the drug, that you might simply have been holding it for someone else, or that you didn't even know you had it on you. If prosecutors feel they can make their case, they will press ahead with it in order to chalk up another win in the country's declared war against drugs.

Convicted murderer, 21, waiting to learn if parole is possible

There's a 21-year-old man serving life in a Michigan prison. He currently faces no chance of parole. A judge in Kalamazoo County is expected to decide tomorrow whether he should ever be granted a chance at it.

The attorney for the defense says this young man deserves the hope of one day being released. But prosecutors say dying in prison is what his record suggests is deserved.

At the root of the case is whether the life sentence that is currently in place amounts to cruel and unusual punishment under the Constitution because it doesn't consider that many serious juvenile criminal offenses are impulsive acts stemming from underdeveloped cognition and character.

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