Possession of or Discharging a Firearm While Under the Influence of Alcohol

Firearm Alcohol

A hard and fast rule is that guns and alcohol don’t mix. If you are in possession of or use a firearm in any way while under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance, there can be heavy penalties to pay. If someone is injured or dies because you were using a gun while under the influence, you are facing serious prison time. Just like with other firearm charges like carrying a concealed weapon, felon in possession of a firearm, and felony firearm, judges and prosecutors treat charges of possession of or discharging a firearm while under the influence of alcohol very seriously. Firearms can be dangerous under normal circumstances. Adding the element of alcohol impedes a person’s judgment which increases the chance of something going wrong or someone being hurt.

Elements of the Offense

MCL 750.237 prohibits a person from possessing, using in any manner, having under control, or discharging a firearm under any of the following circumstances:

  • Under the influence of alcohol, controlled substance, or combination thereof
  • Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 grams or more
  • Use of alcohol, controlled substance, or combination thereof impairs the ability to use a firearm

Penalties

A person found guilty of possessing, using, or discharging a firearm while under the influence of alcohol is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a fine up to $100 for being in possession and a fine up to $500 for using or discharging. If someone is injured or dies as a result of discharging a firearm while under the influence, it is a felony. If the discharge of the firearm causes serious impairment of a bodily function (serious injury) it is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine from $1,000-5,000 plus costs. If the discharge caused the death of another person, it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine from $2,500-10,000 plus costs. The definition for serious injury is the same as used in the law for an OWI Causing Serious Injury or a Moving Violation Causing Serious Injury.

Can the Police Make Me Take a Chemical Test?

If a police officer has probable cause to believe you are using or possessing a gun under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, he can require you to submit to a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine). They are the same chemical tests used in OWI drunk driving cases. If the suspect is a hemophiliac, has diabetes, or has a condition requiring the use of a coagulant, the suspect cannot be required to submit to a blood test.

Before submitting to a chemical test the police officer must inform a suspect of the following:

  • If the suspect refuses to submit, the police officer may seek a warrant from a judge or magistrate for the chemical test
  • If the suspect submits, he may seek a second chemical test of his choosing and at his own expense

It is important to note that even if the officer does not read these chemical test rights it does not mean that the chemical tests are inadmissible at trial. The collecting and testing is done in the same manner as required for an OWI.

If you are charged with possessing or using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, you need an experienced firearms criminal defense attorney representing you. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC at (517) 614-1983 to speak with a Michigan criminal defense attorney today!

Defending possessing, using, and discharging a firearm under the influence of alcohol and other firearms and weapons charges throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Jackson, Livingston, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Barry, Kent, Washtenaw, Branch in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ithaca, Brighton, Howell, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Hastings, Ann Arbor, Coldwater.

 

Providing Tobacco to a Minor

Tobacco

Lansing Michigan selling giving tobacco to a minor defense lawyer

It is a misdemeanor for any person to sell, give, or furnish a tobacco product to a minor. A minor is anyone under 18. There is no jail penalty but for each violation you can be fined up to $50.00. Retailers who sell tobacco products must conspicuously post in a place close to the point of sale a sign that says: “The purchase of tobacco products by a minor under 18 years of age and the provision of tobacco products to a minor are prohibited by law. A minor unlawfully purchasing or using tobacco products is subject to criminal penalties.” If the sign is more than six feet from the point of sale it must be 5 ½” x 8 ½” in 36-point boldfaced type. If the sign is less than six feet from the point of sale, then the sign must be 2” x 4” in 20-point boldfaced type. The Department of Community Health shall provide the signs and adequate copies.

Affirmative Defenses

An affirmative defense is a rare instance in criminal law. Normally the prosecutor has the sole burden of proof meaning that only the prosecutor has to prove his case. The defense is not required by law to prove or disprove anything and can literally sit at trial and not utter a single word. An affirmative defense is rare in that it requires the defendant to prove his defense, usually by a preponderance of the evidence. Affirmative defenses also require the defendant give notice to the prosecutor ahead of time that the defense plans on using a particular defense. This is also unusual as the defense normally does not have to disclose defenses or trial strategy, only give notice of witnesses they may call and evidence they may present.

If charged with providing tobacco to a minor as a retailer, it is an affirmative defense that at the time of the offense the defendant had in force and continues to have in force a written policy to prevent the sale of tobacco products to persons less than 18 years old and that the defendant enforced and continues to enforce such policy. The defense must provide notice of this affirmative defense to the prosecutor at least 14 days before trial.

Although not an affirmative defense, it is a defense to the charge if a minor was in possession of a tobacco product if required by and during the course of his employment.

Selling Tobacco to a Minor Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with selling, giving, or furnishing tobacco to a minor you could be facing a criminal conviction as well as secondary fines and possibly a loss or suspension of your license to sell tobacco products if you are a retailer which could have a severe negative impact on your business. If you have been charged with selling or giving tobacco to a minor call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan criminal defense lawyer!

Defending charges of selling, giving, or furnishing tobacco to a minor and other charges throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Jackson, Livingston, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Barry, Kent in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ithaca, Brighton, Howell, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Hastings.

 

Pointing or Discharging a Firearm Laws

Firearm 1

Lansing Michigan Discharging a Firearm Defense Lawyer

Michigan has various laws against pointing a firearm at another person and discharging a firearm. Depending on various factors they range from a low level misdemeanor to a capitol felony.

Pointing or Aiming a Firearm at Another Person

It is illegal for a person to intentionally but without malice points or aims a firearm at or toward another person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500 plus costs.

Intentionally Discharging a Firearm While Aiming but Without Malice

A person that discharges a firearm while it is intentionally, but without malice, aimed at or toward another person without injury another person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $500 plus costs. This statute does not apply to a peace officer while performing his or her duties.

Intentionally Discharging a Firearm from a Motor Vehicle, Snowmobile, or an Off Road Vehicle

It is a felony to discharge a firearm from any type of motor vehicle. The severity of the penalties depends on the extent of the injury the discharging of the firearm causes.

If it endangers the safety of another individual, it is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000 plus costs. It the discharge causes physical injury to another person, it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine up to $15,000 plus costs. If it causes a serious impairment of a bodily function (serious injury) it is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $25,000 plus costs. If the discharge causes the death of another person, it is punishable by up to life in prison or any term of years.

Defenses

There are some defenses to the charge of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle. It is a defense for a peace officer if he was lawfully acting within his duties of a peace officer. If the person discharging the firearm was acting in self-defense or in defense of another, it is a defense to the charge. Whether or not the defendant acted in lawful self-defense or in defense of another is up to the jury to decide.

Consecutive Sentencing may apply if the defendant is convicted of any other charges arising from the same incident. That means that the other sentences will be served after he serves his original sentence as opposed to serving them at the same time (running concurrently).

Michigan Discharging a Firearm Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with pointing a firearm or discharging a firearm, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to protect your rights and liberty. Prosecutors and judges treat firearms charges very seriously, especially if it involves another person being injured. A firearm charge doesn’t have to ruin your life and future. Contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to a firearm defense lawyer at (517) 614-1983!

Defending pointing and discharging a firearm throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Livingston, Jackson, Kent, Barry, Branch, Hillsdale, Washtenaw in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, Howell, Livingston, St. Johns, Ithaca, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Hillsdale, Hastings, Coldwater.

 

Various Michigan Firearm Laws

Firearm 2

Lansing Michigan Firearm Defense Lawyer

Among the most frequently prosecuted firearm laws are carrying a concealed weapon, a felon in possession of a firearm, and a firearm used in the commission of a felony (felony firearm). There are numerous other firearm laws and restrictions however, which I will discuss.

Transporting or Possessing a Firearm in or Upon a Motor Vehicle

Under MCL 750.227d, it is a crime for a person to transport or possess a firearm in or upon a motor vehicle. However, the law does allow some exceptions.  The law applies to firearms (other than pistols) and pneumatic guns that expels a metallic BB or metallic pellet greater than .177 caliber. Michigan law generally prohibits carrying a firearm in a motor vehicle while being operated, whether concealed or not concealed, unless that person has a concealed pistol license (CPL) or is a licensed firearm dealer lawfully transporting a firearm or an agent of such a licensee.

It is not a violation of the statute if the firearm is unloaded and one or more of the following applies:

  • the firearm is taken down
  • enclosed in a case
  • carried in the trunk of the vehicle
  • inaccessible from the interior of the vehicle

Penalties

Carrying a loaded firearm in or upon a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $100 plus costs.

Altering, Removing, or Obliterating Identification Marks on a Firearm

Under MCL 750.230 it is unlawful for a person to willfully alter, remove, or obliterate the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other marks of identification of a pistol or other firearm. Any person who violates this statute is guilty of a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine up to $1,000 plus costs. The law also states that anyone in possession of a firearm with altered, removed, or obliterated marks is presumed to be the person who altered, removed, or obliterated them. However, this particular provision was ruled unconstitutional in 1978 as the burden of proof lies solely with the prosecution.

Michigan Firearm Defense Attorney

Being charged with a firearm or weapons violation can have serious consequences including jail, prison, loss of gun rights, mandatory forfeiture of the firearm, not to mention red flags for future employers. Firearm charges are treated very seriously by prosecutors and judges and many will not offer reductions or plea agreements. You don’t have to let a gun charge ruin your future. If you have been charged with a firearms crime, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan firearm defense lawyer!

Defending firearm charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Livingston, Jackson, Kent, Barry, Branch, Hillsdale, Washtenaw in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, Howell, Livingston, St. Johns, Ithaca, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Hillsdale, Hastings, Coldwater.

 

Carrying a Concealed Knife

Knife

Carrying a Concealed Weapons Knife Lawyer

In addition to being charged with carrying a concealed weapon for having a concealed gun, you can also be prosecuted under the same statute for carrying a concealed knife or other stabbing instruments. In this article we’ll discuss the various kinds of knives and stabbing instruments the statute covers as well as defenses and plea options.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove

To be convicted of carrying a concealed knife the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Defendant knowingly carried a dagger, dirk, stiletto, razor, double-edged or non-folding stabbing instrument,
  • The weapon was concealed.
  • If charged with carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle—Defendant knew the weapon was in the vehicle, took part in keeping it in the vehicle, or was instrumental in keeping it in the vehicle.

Note: It does not matter the reason why the defendant carried the knife. The prosecutor only has to prove that he knowingly carried the knife and that it was concealed.

What Makes a Weapon Concealed

To be considered concealed by law complete invisibility is not required. In a lot of cases the weapon is at least partially visible which is how a police officer notices it. For example, the tip of the handle could be sticking out of a pocket or the tip of a boot and still be considered concealed. The weapon is concealed if it cannot be easily seen by those who come into ordinary contact with the defendant.

Defining a Knife—Dirk, Dagger, and Stiletto

The carrying a concealed weapon statute prohibits carrying a concealed firearm as well as a dirk, dagger, stiletto, and other stabbing instruments. A dirk is a straight knife with a pointed blade. A dagger is a knife with a short, pointed blade. A stiletto is a small dagger with a slender, tapering blade. The law defines a knife as an instrument having a handle and at least one sharp-edged blade and the blade must be over three inches long. A razor is a sharp-edged cutting instrument for shaving off or cutting hair.

Defenses

  • Defendant Unaware of the Weapon—An essential element is knowingly carrying the weapon. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew he/she was carrying the weapon.
  • Carried in Home, Place of Business, or Land Possessed by Defendant.
  • Hunting Knife—This is a large, heavy, wide-bladed knife without a single cutting edge that curves up to a point. It is typically used for skinning and cutting game. It does not apply to knives adapted and carried as hunting knives. The prosecutor has the burden of proving that it was not a hunting knife.
  • Fourth Amendment Violations—If the police lacked reasonable suspicion to stop or detain you or if they lacked probable cause for the arrest, those are Fourth Amendment violations that can be made to the court to suppress the evidence. If the police unlawfully searched your person, car, or home then the evidence could be suppressed and the charge dismissed.

Self Defense is NOT a Defense to Carrying a Concealed Weapon

It is not a defense to the charge that you were carrying the weapon for protection or self-defense. The judge would not allow such evidence to be presented at trial as it’s irrelevant. The only issue is whether or not the defendant knowingly carried the knife.

Penalties

Carrying a concealed weapon is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine up to $2,500 plus costs.

Plea Options

Prosecutors treat weapons charges very seriously. A lot of prosecutors have policies against reducing weapons charges, even if it’s your first offense. Other prosecutors will be reluctant if there are aggravating factors such as if there was a violent encounter or if the knife was pulled on someone. If prosecutors are willing to reduce the charge, a common reduction is to Possession of a Switchblade, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

Carrying a Concealed Knife Lawyer

If you have been charged with carrying a concealed weapon-knife, you need an experienced lawyer representing you to ensure the best possible outcome. Many judges will impose jail sentences even for first offenses is any kind of a weapon is involved. Your future and liberty is at stake, but an experienced lawyer can make all the difference. A weapons charge doesn’t have to ruin your life and career. If you have been charged with carrying a concealed weapon call Austin Legal Services, PLC at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan weapons attorney today!

Defending carrying a concealed weapon and knife charges throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Livingston, Branch, Kent, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Barry, and in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ithaca, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Howell, Brighton, Coldwater, Hillsdale, Hastings, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor.

Disorderly Conduct and Urinating in Public Charges

Lansing Michigan Disorderly Conduct Defense Lawyer

East Lansing Urinating in Public Lawyer

 

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $500 plus costs. The disorderly conduct statute is quite broad and covers a broad range of behavior that classifies someone as a disorderly person. Most municipalities have local ordinances similar to the state statute. They can be quite vague and can include anything from being loud and boisterous, public intoxication, arguing in public, noise ordinance violation, resisting the police, urinating in public.

The state statute (MCL 750.167) Disorderly Person cites a plethora of categories of behavior that makes someone guilty of being a disorderly person. It includes:

  • Refusing to support your family when you have the ability
  • Common prostitution
  • Window peeper
  • Running an illegal occupation or business
  • Indecent or obscene conduct in a public place
  • Vagrant
  • Begging in public
  • Loitering in a house of ill fame or prostitution or a place where prostitution or lewdness is practiced, encouraged, or allowed
  • Knowingly loitering in or about a place where an illegal occupation or business is taking place
  • Loitering in a police station, jail, court, or other public building for the purpose of soliciting legal services
  • Jostling or roughly crowding people unnecessarily in public

It does not include a mother breastfeeding a child.

Urinating in Public

Urinating in public is generally an offense that falls under disorderly conduct or being a disorderly person under both state statute and local ordinances. It is a crime that carries the possibility of jail, fines, and probation. If the police or prosecutor accuse you of doing it where adults or children may have seen you, they may try to increase the charge to something more serious such as indecent exposure, which could put you on the sex offender registry.

Our firm frequently represents people (mostly college students) at the 54-B district court in East Lansing on this charge. It is important to have an attorney represent you that is familiar with the policies of the prosecutor and judge you will be facing because they have certain criteria they look at when deciding how to resolve this cases and it’s important you have an attorney that knows how to negotiate with prosecutors to get the best possible outcome which is ideally keeping the matter off your record entirely.

Sex Offender Registration

You can be required to register as a sex offender under the sex offender registration act (SORA) if convicted of disorderly conduct. You will be required to register as a sex offender if you are convicted three times of disorderly conduct. That’s why it is important to have a lawyer on your side experienced in defending against disorderly conduct and indecent exposure charges to make sure you don’t have to comply with SORA.

Michigan Disorderly Conduct Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, urinating in public, or indecent exposure contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to a Michigan disorderly conduct defense lawyer at (517) 614-1983!

Defending charges of disorderly conduct, indecent exposure, and urinating in public throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Livingston, Jackson, Kent in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Ithaca, Howell, Brighton, Jackson, Grand Rapids.

Moving Violations Causing Serious Injury or Death

Moving Violations

Lansing Michigan Moving Violation Causing Injury or Death Defense Lawyer

Under Michigan law if you commit a moving violation and that results in someone having a serious impairment of a bodily function or death, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. Just like with an OWI Causing Serious Injury or Death or Reckless Driving Causing Serious Injury or Death, causation is a crucial element of the offense that must be proven. It is not enough for the prosecutor to establish that you committed a moving violation, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a moving violation and that was the actual and proximate cause of the other person’s serious injury or death. Also, the injury has to be something more serious than just some bruises or cuts; the injury must be severe enough that it impairs an important bodily function so that it effects the person’s ability to lead a normal life.

A moving violation is defined as any act or omission prohibited under the motor vehicle code or a local ordinance substantially corresponding to the motor vehicle code and involves operating a motor vehicle upon which fines may be assessed. Examples would be speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, texting while driving…

Penalties for Moving Violation Causing Serious Injury

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Fine up to $500 plus costs
  • Six points on your driving record
  • One-year “hard suspension” of your driver’s license (no hardship appeal to circuit court)

Penalties for Moving Violation Causing Death

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Six points on your driving record
  • One-year “hard suspension” of your driver’s license (no hardship appeal to circuit court)

While it may be a misdemeanor and not a felony, it is still a very serious offense with severe penalties that can impact your freedom and your driving record. Also, just because you are charged with a moving violation causing serious injury or death doesn’t prohibit the prosecutor from charging with someone else with even worse penalties such as reckless driving or reckless driving causing serious injury or death.

Michigan Traffic Crimes Attorney

If you have been charged with a moving violation causing serious injury or death, you need an attorney with experience in handling traffic related offenses that know how to properly investigate, file the right motions, and make winning arguments to a jury. Don’t lose your ability to provide for yourself or your family by risking your freedom and driver’s license. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan moving violations defense lawyer!

Defending moving violations and other traffic crimes throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Jackson, Livingston, Kent, Shiawassee, Genesee in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ithaca, Jackson, Howell, Brighton, Grand Rapids, Corunna, Durand, Flint.

Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving

Lansing Michigan Reckless Driving Defense Lawyer

Reckless Driving is defined under Michigan law (MCL 257.626) as operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway (including parking lots), public lake, frozen pond, or stream with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property. The elements are rather vague and open to interpretation which means that a skillful attorney can argue that your driving does not meet the elements of the offense. Anything from weaving in and out of traffic, cutting other motorists off, excessive speeding, or even tailgating can lead to being charged with reckless driving. It can also be used as a plea option in OWI cases. If convicted, the penalties are very strict.

Penalties for Reckless Driving

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to $500 in fines plus costs
  • Six points on your driving record
  • 90 days “hard suspension” of driver’s license meaning no driving at all! (driver’s license is revoked if second conviction within seven years)
  • $1,000 in driver responsibility fees ($500 a year for two consecutive years)
  • Vehicle forfeitures or immobilization—if the vehicle is not forfeited, then the judge must order it immobilized
  • CDL Suspension—if you have a commercial driver’s license it will be suspended for one year

Reckless Driving Causing Serious Injury or Death

If your reckless driving causes someone to have a serious impairment of a bodily function or it results in their death, the penalties are increased a misdemeanor to a felony. Just like with the OWI Causing Serious Injury or Death, causation is a crucial element. It is not enough for the prosecutor to prove that you were driving recklessly. The prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving recklessly and that reckless driving caused the serious injury or death of the other person. Furthermore, the law states that if charged with reckless driving causing death, the jury shall not be instructed on the lesser offense of a moving violation causing death.

Penalties for Reckless Driving Causing Serious Injury or Death

In both instances, six points will be added to your driving record and your license will be revoked. You may apply for reinstatement of your driver’s license after one year or five years depending on your master driving record. As with the misdemeanor reckless driving charge, your CDL (if you have one) will be suspended for one year. Reckless Driving Causing Serious Injury is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and fines from $1,000-5,000. Reckless Driving Causing Death is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison with fines from $2,500-10,000.

Difference Between Reckless Driving and Careless Driving

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense while careless driving is a civil infraction which is a ticket. Careless driving carries a fine of approximately $125 and will add three points to your driving record but it is not a criminal conviction. It can be used effectively as a plea option in driving and traffic offense cases, particularly if the prosecution’s case is weak. The big difference is that reckless driving requires intent by the driver while careless driving is more unintentionally placing persons or property at risk by your driving.

Michigan Reckless Driving Lawyer

If you have been charged with reckless driving or reckless driving causing serious injury or death, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to help you avoid jail, prison, and losing your license. The livelihood of many people depends on having a driver’s license so it’s important to have a lawyer with experience in defending driving charges and traffic offense. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to a Michigan reckless driving defense lawyer at (517) 614-1983!

Defending reckless driving and careless driving charges throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Livingston, Kent, Shiawassee, Gratiot, Kalamazoo, Calhoun in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Jackson, Howell, Brighton, Grand Rapids, Corunna, Durand, Ithaca, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek.  

Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

Mandatory Reporters

Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

Under MCL 722.623 certain individuals and members of certain professions must make reports to the appropriate authorities if they have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or child neglect. This article talks about who is a mandatory reporter, what their duties are, what the reports must contain, who the reports are made to, what the reports must contain, and the timeframe for making them. I will also discuss the legal penalties for violating this law and the defense of lacking reasonable cause.

Who is a Mandatory Reporter

  • Physician
  • Dentist
  • Physician’s assistant
  • Dental hygienist
  • Medical examiner
  • Nurse
  • Anyone licensed to provide emergency medical care
  • Audiologist
  • Marriage and family therapist
  • Licensed professional counselor
  • Social worker
  • Licensed bachelor or master’s social worker
  • Social service technician
  • Any Friend of the court employee
  • School administrator
  • School teacher or counselor
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Regulated child care provider
  • Clergy

Reporting Suspected Abuse or Neglect: Where, When, and How

A mandatory reporter must immediately orally report or cause an oral report to be made of the suspected abuse or neglect to the Department of Human Services. Within 72 hours of the oral report, the mandatory reporter must file a written report of the abuse or neglect. If the reporter is a member of hospital staff, school, or agency, the reporter must notify the person in charge of the hospital, school, or agency. Such notification does not relieve the person in charge of their respective reporting requirements. One report from a hospital, school, or agency is adequate to meet the reporting requirement.

Reporting of Alcohol or Controlled Substances in an Infant

If a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to believe a newborn infant has any amount of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a metabolite of a controlled substance, the reporter is under the same obligation to report as suspected abuse or neglect.

Department of Human Services (DHS) Employees Reporting Requirements

Any of the following DHS employees must make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect to DHS in the same manner proscribed by law:

  • Eligibility specialist
  • Family independent manager
  • Family independent specialist
  • Social services specialist
  • Social work specialist
  • Welfare services specialist

What Must the Report Contain

The report must contain the name of the child, description of the abuse or neglect, and, if possible, names and addresses of the child’s parents, the child’s guardian, the person(s) with whom the child resides, and the child’s age. The report must contain other information available to the reporter that might establish the cause of the child abuse or neglect and the manner in which the abuse or neglect occurred. DHS must inform the reporter at the time of the making of the oral report of the requirements for the written report.

Who Gets the Reports

The written report must be mailed or otherwise transmitted to the DHS in the county that the child resides in. Upon written receipt of this report, DHS may provide copies to the prosecutor and the probate court in the county that the child resides in.

Does DHS Have to Send a Copy of the Report to Law Enforcement

DHS is required to send a copy of allegation, written report, or investigation to a law enforcement agency in the county that the child resides in under the following circumstances:

  • If the allegation indicates child abuse as defined by MCL 750.136b
  • If the allegation indicates child sexually abusive material as defined by MCL 750.145c
  • If the allegation indicates any degree of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) or Assault with Intent to Commit Penetration
  • If the allegation indicates manufacturing of a controlled substance or methamphetamine
  • If the suspected abuse or neglect was committed by someone who is not responsible for the child’s heath or welfare (exs. clergy, teacher, teacher’s aide)

Immediate 24-Hour Reporting

If the allegation, report, or investigation indicates the suspected abuse or neglect was committed by a child care provider and DHS or law enforcement believes that report has basis in fact, then DHS or law enforcement must send a copy of the written report to the child care regulatory agency within 24 hours of completion. If the allegation, report, or investigation indicates the child is exposed to or having contact with methamphetamine production, then a copy of that report must be sent to the child care regulatory agency within 24 hours of completion.

What is Reasonable Cause

The key element in this statute is reasonable cause. The mandatory reporter’s obligation to report hinges upon reasonable cause to believe that abuse or neglect is occurring. It is somewhat subjective but the law does give some guidance. For example, the law states that if a child under 12 is pregnant or if a child between the ages of one and 12 has a venereal disease, that is reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect. Otherwise, the person who comes into knowledge of the suspected abuse or neglect has a judgment call to make. If the reporter fails to make a report because he did not believe he had reasonable cause, he better be prepared to defend that decision.

Penalties for Failing to Report Child Abuse or Neglect

If a person is a mandatory reporter and fails to report the suspected abuse or neglect or you do not report it in the time proscribed by law, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Mid Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect and you are a mandatory reporter, call Austin Legal Services today to speak to a Michigan criminal defense lawyer at (517) 614-1983!

Defending charges of failing to report child abuse or neglect throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Shiawassee, Livingston, Washtenaw, Kent, Barry and in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Charlotte, Jackson, Corunna, Brighton, Howell, Ann Arbor, Hastings, and Grand Rapids.

 

Is Lying to the Police a Crime

Lying to Police

Ingham County Criminal Defense Attorney

In 2012 the Michigan legislature passed a law making it a crime to lie to the police during a criminal investigation. MCL 750.479c mirrors federal law and makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully:

  • conceal any material fact relating to a criminal investigation
  • make any statement that the person is false or misleading regarding a material fact in that criminal investigation
  • issue or otherwise provide a writing or document that the person knows is false or misleading during a criminal investigation.

The key elements are knowing and willfully (i.e. intent), false and misleading, and the statements or documents must be made or furnished to a peace officer during a criminal investigation. If any of these elements are not met or cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a person cannot be convicted of this offense.

When the Statute Does Not Apply

The statute criminalizing lying to the police during a criminal investigation does have exceptions. The following are examples that the statute does not apply to:

  • Any statement made or action taken by an alleged victim of a crime
  • Duress—is someone makes a false or misleading statement made out of reasonable fear of physical harm to him or herself or another person if the duress comes from a current or former spouse, a current or former household resident, a domestic relationship, or from someone that person has a child-in-common

What If I Invoke My Right to Remain Silent?

The statute does not criminalize invoking your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Furthermore, it does not criminalize declining to speak with the police. Keep in mind that no one has to speak to the police. Ever! No one can be compelled to speak to the police any invoking silence or refusing to speak to the police (whether you are being accused of a crime or just a mere witness) cannot be held against you.

Is Lying to the Police Resisting and Obstructing?

No! Resisting and Obstructing the police is a separate charge with different elements. Resisting and Obstructing requires some physical act, resistance, or refusal to obey a lawful order from the police while performing their duties.

Can Lying to the Police Bring Other Charges?

Yes, it’s very possible. Under certain circumstances, lying to the police could get you charged with filing a false police report. However, you cannot be charged with perjury because the statement is not made under oath in court. Perjury is a different charge.

Penalties for Lying to the Police

The penalties depend on the severity of the crime that was being investigated that the false or misleading statement occurred in.

If the crime being investigated was a serious misdemeanor, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. If the crime being investigated is a misdemeanor punishable by one year or more or a felony punishable by four years or less, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. If the crime being investigated is a felony punishable by more than four years, it is a high court misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

It is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 if the false or misleading statement during the course of a criminal investigation where one of the following crimes was the subject of the investigation:

Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with lying to the police, filing a false police report, or resisting arrest, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney at (517) 614-1983!

Defending charges of lying to the police throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Shiawassee, Livingston, Jackson, Kent, Washtenaw, in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Charlotte, Brighton, Howell, Corunna, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor.