Should I Talk to the Police?

Should I Talk to the Police

Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

The police come knocking on your door or perhaps a detective calls and asks you to come down to the station. He just wants to talk. Ask you some questions. Should you go? The answer is “No!” At least, not without consulting with a lawyer first. Here are some of the reasons why you should never talk to the police without first consulting with an attorney.

The police might misunderstand you

Talking to the police is somewhat unnerving for most people. Just because the police use the word “talk” rather than “interrogate” doesn’t make it any less intimidating. The police are trained in the art of interrogation and know how to get information out of people. Most people don’t express themselves with exact precision. If you say something that the officer misunderstands or comes out with a different meaning than what you intended, it will be used against you.

The police may not accurately remember everything you say

Even if the officer takes notes during the interrogation, er… talk, it is quite possible, if not highly probable, that he won’t remember everything your say verbatim. Missing statements leads to lack of context which leads to misunderstandings. Or worse, the police may inaccurately recall what you said. The officer may also make incriminating inferences about your gestures, body language, and attitude that may be inaccurate.

You may lie to the police

Under the pressure and stress of a police interrogation, innocent people have been known to lie, even if it’s inadvertently. It happens quite frequently. Innocent people, in an attempt to vehemently assert their innocence, may deny some seemingly innocent fact to appear as innocent as possible. The police will pounce on any lie you tell, no matter how trivial. It can destroy your credibility at trial and make you look guilty.

Even if you’re innocent and tell the truth, you could still reveal information that could be used against you

For example, let’s say you are being questioned about a murder you are truly innocent of. In the course of denying the killing, you could admit to having a strong dislike for the victim and being in the area of the killing around the time of the murder. Now the police and prosecutor are armed with motive and can place you at the scene of the crime. Things like this easily snowball and you can find yourself being charged with a crime you didn’t commit.

You might confess to a crime you didn’t commit

Police are very skilled at the art of interrogation. Not only do they know how to illicit incriminating information through deceit, threats, and false promises, but they can also use physical techniques such as barraging you with questions for hours on end, depriving you of sleep and bathroom breaks. This has led to many false confessions, especially to those who may not have the mental and physical wherewithal to withstand a hostile interrogation. Next to false identification, false confessions are probably the second biggest reason why innocent people get convicted.

It’s difficult to tell a story the same way twice

Even for a completely innocent and honest person, it is quite difficult to tell a story the exact same way twice. The slightest slip or discrepancy on even the most trivial matter gives fodder for a great cross-examiner to expounded upon at trial to show that you are a liar and inconsistent in your story. This can be very damaging infront of a jury, even if it is completely innocent.

Even if you are guilty and want to confess, you shouldn’t do it to the police

At least not right away. There will be time for confessing and admitting responsibility later if that is what you want to do. More than 90% of cases end up pleading out. It is better to retain a lawyer who can exchange a benefit for your guilty plea through plea negotiations with the prosecutor. You may get a reduction in the charge(s) or a sentencing agreement. If you confess to the police, you get nothing in return. In fact, your chances of getting a good plea deal or any kind of deal at all may be gone because with your confession the prosecution’s case is air tight, or at least a lot stronger than it was.

Nothing good can come from talking to the police

Or at the least, it’s unlikely. Think of it this way, when the police ask to talk to you it’s generally one of two scenarios. First scenario: they believe you committed a crime and they have the goods on you. They don’t need your confession, but it will be icing on the cake. By confessing, incriminating yourself, or being contradictory, all you’ve done is made a strong case for the police even stronger. Second scenario: They believe you committed a crime and they don’t have the goods on you or they have very little on you. It’s a fishing expedition. By talking to the police, all you can do is provide them with ammunition to be used against you as mentioned above in the many reasons given why you shouldn’t talk to the police. All you’ll be doing is helping the police build a case against you and dig a deeper hole for yourself. Even if you are innocent, it is unlikely you are going to change their mind by talking to them.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Under the Fifth Amendment you have the right to remain silent. Use it! No one ever has to talk to the police. Ever. Even when you get pulled over all you are required by law to do is provide your driver’s license, proof of insurance, vehicle registration, and step out of the car if they ask you to. No talking is required. If the police come knocking on your door, you still don’t have to talk to the police. If the police ever ask you to come to the station and talk, always consult with a lawyer first. If not, it may be too late for a lawyer to undo the damage you’ve done by voluntarily speaking to the police. Remember, Miranda warnings are not required if you voluntarily speak to the police because you are not being detained by the police.

Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

If the police have asked you to talk or take a polygraph (lie detector test) call Austin Legal Services, PLC at (517) 614-1983 for a free consultation today!

Defending criminal charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Livingston, Jackson, Washtenaw, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Shiawassee in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ithaca, Jackson, Brighton, Howell, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Corunna, Durand.

Prior Bad Acts in Michigan Sex Crimes

CSC 2

Lansing Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) Defense Lawyer

Ordinarily, prosecutors are not allowed to introduce evidence that a defendant committed the same or similar act to the one he is currently charged with to show a propensity towards such behavior or that the defendant acted in conformity with that propensity. In other words, if a defendant is on trial for stealing a toaster, the court will not allow evidence that defendant stole toasters in the past to show that since he did it before than he probably did it this time. Also, the prosecutor cannot introduce the evidence just to show that the defendant has a poor disposition of character. There are various reasons for this.

First, a defendant should be tried solely on the evidence of the current charge and not any past indiscretions. Second, the danger is that the jury may overreact and convict the defendant based upon his past bad conduct rather than the evidence presented on the current charge. That’s what the law refers to as evidence that is more prejudicial than probative. The potential harm to the defendant outweighs any benefit it gives to the prosecution or helping the jury understand the case.

MCL 768.27a and MRE 404(b)

Under Michigan Rules of Evidence 404(b), the prosecutor is precluded from introducing evidence of prior bad acts to show propensity or that the defendant acted in conformity with that propensity. However, Michigan has a law (MCL 768.27a) that allows them to do just that in sex offense cases against a minor, even though it directly conflicts with the rules of evidence. It also violates the fundamental rules of fairness as it is inherently prejudicial to the defendant. Prosecutors can introduce such evidence of prior sexual misconduct to not only show propensity towards committing sexual offenses, but to show the disposition of the defendant’s character. In other words, to show that he’s a bad guy. Not only does he have to defend against the evidence on the current charge, but against allegations of past misconduct, some of which may never have been reported or proven in court.

Prior Bad Acts Balanced Between Relevance and Unfair Prejudice

Michigan Rules of Evidence 403 still applies to MCL 768.27a. That means that the prior bad acts can be barred by the court if the relevance of introducing them is outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice to the defendant. Essentially, the prior bad acts will be barred from being introduced as evidence at trial if the unfair prejudice substantially outweighs its probative or beneficial value. The danger to the defendant is that the jury will convict because of defendant’s prior misconduct instead of the facts presented at trial.

Reasons Why the Court May Exclude Evidence of Defendant’s Prior Sexual Misconduct

  • There is a dissimilarity between the prior acts and the charged offense
  • The prior bad acts occurred a long time ago compared to the time the charged offense allegedly occurred
  • The infrequency of the prior bad acts
  • The presence of intervening facts
  • The lack of reliability of the evidence supporting the prior bad acts
  • There is a lack of need for evidence beyond the complaining witness and defendant’s testimony

No 10-Year Limitation on Introducing Evidence of Prior Bad Acts

Unlike MCL 768.27b for domestic violence cases, there is no 10-year limit for introducing evidence of prior bad acts. The age of the prior sexual offenses can be taken into consideration when deciding whether they should be admitted, but there is not a ban on the prior offenses simply because of how long ago they occurred. The court weighs the propensity inference in favor of the probative value, not the prejudicial effect. Again, this is inherently unfair to the defendant, the one whose life and freedom is on the line.

Lansing Michigan Sex Crimes Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a sex offense or criminal sexual conduct (csc), you need to have someone with experience defending against sex crime allegations and opposing evidence of prior misconduct which can grossly prejudice the jury against the defendant. If you are facing rape charges or other sex crimes, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC to speak to a Michigan sex crimes attorney. Call (517) 614-1983 for a free, no obligation consultation today!

Defending criminal sexual conduct (csc) charges, rape allegations, and opposing evidence of prior sex offenses throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Livingston, Kent, Calhoun, Shiawassee in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Charlotte, Jackson, Corunna, Durand, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo.

 

 

Michigan Sex Crimes—Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC)

Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC)

Lansing Michigan Sex Crimes Attorney

Being accused of rape or molestation is a terrifying experience. This is the type of crime where even the mere accusation has the ability to permanently harm someone’s life and reputation. The irrevocable damage can be very destructive in terms of how family, friends, co-workers, and employers view you. Even if the accusations turn out to be false, they often leave behind an indelible stain. These cases can be very emotional for those involved, including juries, judges, prosecutors, and investigators. If you have been charged, accused, or under investigation for rape, molestation, or other sex crimes, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.

Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC), aka “Rape”

Michigan calls its rape statute Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC). It is divided into four degrees with the first and third degrees requiring penetration, while the second and fourth degrees require sexual touching. The most severe sentence is CSC 1st degree which carries up to life in prison and CSC 4th degree is the lowest which is a high-court misdemeanor carrying up to two years in prison. If convicted, you will have to comply with the Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA) unless there is an exception to your case.

Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA)

If you are convicted of criminal sexual conduct, most likely you will have to comply with the sex offender registry unless an exception applies such as the complaining witness (“victim”) was between the ages of 13 and 16, there was no more than a four-year age difference between the complaining witness and the defendant, and the act was consensual. If you are currently on the sex offender registry, you may be able to petition for removal through the Romeo and Juliet provisions or other amendments.

Corroboration of the Allegation is Not Necessary

A common misconception in rape cases is that independent evidence, such as a medical report or rape kit, must support the allegation of the complaining witness. Sadly, that is not the case. Juries are instructed that corroboration is not necessary and that they can convict based on testimony alone. Prosecutors often play on juries’ emotions and sympathy for the “victim,” especially in weak cases or cases involving minors. Sex crimes are vastly different than other criminal charges because the outcomes can be affected by false allegations and emotionalism.

Special Accommodations in Sex Crime Cases

Sex crimes are different in a lot of ways. They are unique as they have double punishment for the same offense with the sex offender registry and prosecutors are permitted to give complaining witnesses special accommodations in the courtroom, even if it is highly prejudicial to the defendant. In cases involving minors (and sometimes adults) prosecutor are permitted to use barriers in the courtroom to block the complaining witness from seeing the defendant while testifying or re-arranging counsel tables. If the complaining witness is a minor, they are also offered a support person or someone to keep them company and sit next to them while testifying.

Prior Bad Acts or Past Offenses Can be Used Against the Defendant

Another reason how sex crimes are different is that the prosecutor is allowed to do something that they are not permitted to do in any other case—they can introduce evidence that a defendant committed sexual offenses in the past (even if they were unreported and not prosecuted) in cases involving minors and offer it to the jury for propensity. In other words, the prosecutor can introduce such evidence to show that since the defendant misbehaved in the past, they can use that to conclude he had a propensity towards such misbehavior. Like its federal counterpart, the Michigan Rules of Evidence 404(b) precludes a prosecutor from introducing evidence of prior bad acts to show that the defendant acted in conformity with such bad behavior when he committed the current offense.

The main reason is that we want the jury to decide the case based upon the evidence presented on the current charge and not have their minds poisoned by acts a defendant may have committed years ago. Even acts that he was acquitted of in court can be used against a defendant! Prosecutors are allowed to do this because a special statute allows them to. Thankfully, it does have its limitations and the defense can still argue the evidence should be kept out because its irrelevant and other evidentiary reasons.

Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) Charges

CSC 1st Degree

Involves sexual penetration and any of the following: Victim is less than 13 years old

  • Victim is 13-15 years old and a blood relative of defendant, lives in defendant’s home, or the defendant is in an authority position over victim
  • Multiple actors are involved and force or coercion is used
  • A weapon was involved
  • Victim suffers personal injury and force or coercion is used
  • Victim suffers personal injury and is incapacitated
  • Defendant was in the process of committing another felony
  • Victim is 16-17 and a student at a public or private school and defendant is a teacher, substitute teacher, coach, or administrator
  • Defendant is a person of authority over the victim

This is a felony punishable by up to any term of years up to life in prison.

CSC 2nd Degree

Involves sexual contact with the genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or breasts and any of the circumstances listed in CSC 1st.

This is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

CSC 3rd Degree

Involves sexual penetration and any of the following: Victim is 13-15 years old

  • Force or coercion is used
  • Victim is incapacitated
  • Victim is 16-17 and a student at a public or private school and defendant is a teacher, substitute teacher, coach, or administrator

This is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

CSC 4th Degree

Involves sexual contact and any of the following:

  • Force or coercion is used
  • Victim is incapacitated
  • Defendant works for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and the victim is an inmate of the MDOC
  • Victim is 16-17 and a student at a public or private school and defendant is a teacher, substitute teacher, coach, or administrator
  • Defendant used unethical conduct while treating the victim during a medical exam

This is a high court misdemeanor (procedurally treated like a felony) and is punishable by up to two years in prison.

Lansing Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Defense Attorney

Being charged with rape can have life-altering consequences that may be irreversible. If you have been charged with rape, accused of rape, or under investigation for rape do not speak to the police or take any polygraph tests! Contact Austin Legal Services, PLC to speak to a Michigan sex crimes defense attorney at (517) 614-1983 today!

Defending sex crimes and allegations of rape, CSC, and molestation throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Livingston, Jackson, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Washtenaw, Barry, Genesee, Shiawassee in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ithaca, Brighton, Howell, Jackson, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Hastings, Flint, Corunna, Durand.