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Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Law Blog

Seeking social media evidence

Information on social media sites, such as Facebook or Instagram, can become an important part of Michigan criminal charges. Prosecutors can obtain search warrants, forcing disclosure of evidence stored on servers from a social media company.

Criminal defendants do not have this option and face obstacles imposed by the Stored Communications Act (SCA). The SCA prohibits social media companies from divulging user information to third parties, even if it is requested by a defense attorney's subpoena.

Supreme Court to rule on cellphone privacy

The Fourth Amendment protects Michigan citizens against unreasonable search and seizures. With the advent of new communications technology, however, it did not protect third-party access to online data. Next month, the Supreme Court will rule on a criminal defense case on how law enforcement can use the data that they obtain from smartphones and other personal electronic devices.

The Supreme Court is ruling on a case concerning numerous robberies involving the defendant over two years. Law enforcement got the cell site location information for his cell phone. The police did not seek a search warrant, but a judge signed an order under the Stored Communications Act, which requires that police show reasonable suspicion instead of probable cause.

Driveway drunk driving prosecutable

Convictions for drunk driving are not restricted to motoring on Michigan highways. The state Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision, ruled that a driver may be prosecuted for alleged drunk driving, even in his own driveway.

The defendant in this case was arrested in 2014. Police went to the defendant's home after neighbors complained about loud music. He was allegedly drinking and sitting in his car listening to music. During a third stop at the home, a police officer saw him back his car out of his garage and onto the driveway. Police claimed that he drove forward and hit some items inside the garage.

Michigan civil forfeiture has been criticized

State law enforcement seized over $15 million in cash and property from individuals associated with suspected crimes last year. However, a recent report claims that charges, including drug charges, were not filed in almost 10 percent of these cases.

Law enforcement agencies recorded 5,290 civil forfeitures under a new law that took effect at the beginning of 2016. However, charges were not filed in 523 of those cases, even though the seizures were based on the commission of an alleged offense. Another 196 individuals were charged, but not convicted.

Michigan man face felony drunk driving charge

If you are facing drunk driving charges in Michigan, you may be anxious about what your future holds. Many DUI convictions lead to jail time, hefty fines, alcohol abuse education courses, and other penalties. Under Michigan's high blood alcohol content enhanced penalty law, otherwise known as the "super drunk" driving law, first time offenders with a blood alcohol content of .17 or higher can see harsher penalties than those who have been charged with a standard DUI.

A 35-year-old Michigan man has been charged under the "super drunk" law is facing a felony charge for allegedly operating his vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .18 or higher with a prior conviction. The man ran a stop sign and struck another motorist's vehicle. The crash killed the other driver and injured two passengers, who are in stable condition.

Ways to fight DUI charges

Fourth of July weekend is right around the corner, and for many Americans, including those from the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area, this often means time out with family and friends enjoying parades, fireworks and barbeques. As we all know, it's not uncommon to celebrate barbeques with a few adult beverages. Local and state authorities throughout the country are also aware of increases in consumption of alcohol during the holidays, and often take proactive measures to dissuade people from driving under the influence or catch them in the act.

If you have been caught and are facing a driving under the influence charge, you may think that your fate is sealed. It is important to understand, however, that authorities still have to follow proper procedure during your arrest.

How are field sobriety tests conducted?

It happens every day throughout the United States, including the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area. After a long day of work, you stop by the local watering hole for a couple drinks with buddies. Or it's Saturday night and it's your friend's birthday, and you'll only have a couple then head home. But when one or two turns out to be more than a few, you run the risk of driving while intoxicated.

Drunk driving is a serious issue throughout America. Thousands of Americans each year are injured or killed in DWI accidents. Local and state authorities are aware of the issue, and often take proactive measure such as public campaigns to increase awareness and checkpoints during weekends and holidays when drunk driving increases.

A DUI/OWI charge without any a drop to drink?

The arrest of Tiger Woods this week on suspicion of driving under the influence but at the same time having measured 0.00 blood alcohol content (BAC) should serve as a reminder that you can be arrested for driving while impaired, even if the source of the impairment is not alcohol.

In Michigan, drunk driving offenses are typically charged as Operating While Impaired (OWI). In Wood's situation, he likely would have been charged with an Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) in Michigan, as the police report details many aspects of his physical and mental condition, which strongly suggested he was intoxicated. The 0.00 blood alcohol content meant his impaired condition was not due too much alcohol.

Avoid drug charge tears by being aware of justice tiers

If you are arrested for drug possession in Michigan, chances are the police officer represents a local jurisdiction. Depending on the circumstances of the encounter, however, drug charges eventually brought could expand beyond just possession. They could also come at you from more than one level. Protecting your legal rights may require a strategy that involves defending against the full array of possible actions.

It's good to keep in mind that there are federal drug laws and there are state drug laws. Authorities at each level have jurisdictional right to prosecute so it's possible for a person to be charged at the state level, federal level, or both. The sooner a defendant has legal representation, the more chance there is of influencing which system eventually handles the case. 

Criminal conduct or someone in need of treatment?

For decades, Michigan law enforcement has viewed drug use as primarily one of criminal conduct, deserving of punishment for violating the law and societal norms. Much of the force of criminal law is based on a rational weighing of costs and benefits. You can rob a bank and enjoy the "profit" of your robbery until you are caught and sentenced to prison. That "cost" outweighs the temporary benefit for most people.

Drugs are different. Many people believe they will never become addicted, that their rational thoughts can overcome the chemical reaction that takes place in their brain. The jails and prisons of Michigan are full of individuals who believed this. The danger with any drug use is that no matter why someone began using, once they are addicted, they no longer have the ability to control their use.

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Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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