What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the amount of potential prison time. While a felony conviction may result in prison time, this is not always the case. Meanwhile, a misdemeanor conviction subjects an offender to less time in jail. Michigan law prohibits punishing a misdemeanor with more than a year of incarceration, though it is still possible to get some jail time. The amount of jail time depends on the nature of the misdemeanor, as it can range from a few days to a few months.
While misdemeanor charges may not warrant prison time, repeat offenses can change that. For example, a DUI charge is a misdemeanor the first and second time. If you get a third DUI charge in a lifetime, however, it is considered a felony, and you could face prison.
What Does It Mean to Be Arrested in Michigan?
Strictly speaking, an arrest is when a person is taken into custody by a police officer and is not free to leave. Even before being taken to the police station, a person can be arrested during initial questioning. A good indication that you are under arrest is if a police officer reads you your Miranda rights (though they may not always do this).
When you are arrested, the police will search you for contraband and process you in the police system. Then, you will be provided a phone call to contact your family, your lawyer, or a bail bondsman. If you cannot afford an attorney or do not have one of your own, one will be provided for you. Assume that any call you make after being arrested will be recorded unless it is to your lawyer.
What Are My Legal Rights in Michigan?
You have numerous legal rights in Michigan if you are arrested or even questioned by police. You are protected against false imprisonment and police brutality and are entitled to legal representation regardless of your socioeconomic status. If you have yet to be arrested, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you from illegal search and seizure, meaning police cannot search you or your property without your consent. The Fifth Amendment entitles you to remain silent, as you cannot be forced to answer police questions.
Some additional protections under the law include the right to due process and the right to have any illegally obtained evidence against you dismissed. You have the right to confront your accuser and have a speedy and public criminal trial with an impartial jury in criminal court. Remember that just because these are your legal rights does not mean police will protect them or will not try to trick you into waiving them.
What to Do If You Have Been Falsely Accused of a Crime in Michigan
If you have been falsely accused of a crime, you need to contact a Michigan criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Know your rights, and do not consent to any of those rights being violated by law enforcement. Remember, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to demonstrate that you are guilty rather than on you to prove your innocence.
What To Do:
- Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
- Say nothing without your attorney’s legal advice.
- Comply with police orders, though not necessarily
- their questioning.
What Not To Do:
- Do not say that you are sorry.
- Do not cooperate with questioning.
- Do not waive your rights.
I’m Being Investigated by the Police. Do I Need a Lawyer?
Yes, you should hire a lawyer if you are being investigated by law enforcement. Get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible to help monitor that the entire process is conducted in a way that keeps your rights protected. The police and other investigators often use tactics that violate your rights to get information, but they never face the consequences unless you know your rights in the first place. Additionally, a lawyer involved early in the investigation will have more time to gather the necessary information to protect you at trial if necessary.
I’m Innocent! Should I Work With the Police to Clear My Name?
No, never work with the police without the assistance of a lawyer. Even if you are under arrest and have to submit to searches, you can never be forced to answer any questions they ask. It is illegal for them to punish you for refusing to answer a question. Additionally, it is important to remember that the legal system is often more concerned with closing cases than seeing justice done. Anything you say, even if you are genuinely innocent of the crime you are accused of, can be used against you. In most cases, a judge is the only person who can order you to answer questions or comply with any kind of investigation or examination.
The only person you should work with to clear your name is your criminal law attorney, as they are the only ones who are professionally invested in helping you. Police, prosecutors, and other agents of the criminal justice system are typically rewarded based on convictions. Clearing your name is not their priority.
Potential Consequences of Criminal Convictions
Being convicted of a crime can have severe consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your life. The potential for fines, jail time, and even prison sentences is obvious enough, but that is only the beginning. Even after serving time in particularly harsh sentences, you will face new obstacles in aspects of life like employment and loans. Finding a rental can also be challenging if landlords conduct a background check on you. Some states prohibit convicted felons from voting, serving on a jury, or holding public office. Travel permissions may be reduced, and you could lose custody of children if you get a criminal record. Lastly, both Michigan and federal law prohibit a felon from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
What Crimes Have No Statute of Limitations in Michigan?
In general, the statute of limitations for crimes in Michigan is six years from the day the crime was committed. This includes criminal offenses like arson, burglary, and assault. Some other crimes have a 10-year statute of limitations, including the following:
- Assault with intent to murder
- Attempted murder
- First-degree home invasion
- Child abuse
More serious crimes in Michigan have no statute of limitations, so you could be charged and convicted for them no matter how far in the past the crime was committed. Crimes without a statute of limitations include the following:
- Solicitation to commit murder
How to Choose a Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your attorney should be skilled in many areas of criminal defense. Even more than having a comprehensive understanding of the law, you want your attorney to be respected in the legal community among prosecutors and judges. You also can’t afford to wait. Many law firms and attorneys lack the team necessary to get to your case quickly, explore all issues, and work together to find the best strategy and communicate with you regularly. When choosing a lawyer to represent you, look for someone responsive, empathetic, and well-respected amongst their peers, with positive client reviews demonstrating their past successes.
Why Choose The Law Offices of Barton Morris?
The Law Offices of Barton Morris features several attorneys, paralegals, administrative assistants, and other support staff, including a legal courier, giving you the attention you deserve while fighting for your desired outcome. Our attorneys are experienced Michigan criminal defense attorneys who will go to work for you and aggressively fight for the results you need. Our criminal defense attorneys have significant experience and skill as trial lawyers. Our lawyers are well-respected in our courts due to our success and confidence in handling both Michigan and federal criminal cases.
At The Law Offices of Barton Morris, you will be able to work with the only American Chemical Society Forensic Lawyer-Scientist in the state of Michigan. With this qualification, Barton Morris can fully understand the value of any relevant evidence utilizing his forensic knowledge and training. Couple that with the commitment to showcasing the larger backstory than what is being told by the prosecution, and you can expect a comprehensive defense.
Our Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys Care
Whether it’s a traffic ticket or murder charges, your case is extremely important. No one understands that more than our lawyers, and we want to help you. None of our clients will ever feel like their case isn’t being taken seriously.
Our Experience, Professionalism, and Compassion
When you retain the services of The Law Offices of Barton Morris, you get more than just a lawyer to stand beside you in front of a judge. You get an entire team of dedicated lawyers, paralegals, and support staff fighting relentlessly on your behalf. In addition to his years of experience, Barton Morris has also been featured in the Super Lawyers list several times for his professional achievements and commitment to his clients.
Our Criminal Defense Philosophy
There are many attorneys out there who take the first deal offered to their clients. Our criminal defense attorneys know that the best results come when a case is effectively handled and litigated. We are committed to thorough preparation because we believe that preparation is key to effective litigation. As our client, you’ll be fully prepared for what will happen at each stage of your case. We’ll do everything we can to alleviate the stress that a legal issue can cause to you and your family by answering your questions and keeping you informed of all appointments and court hearings.
We Fight to Protect Your Rights
The Law Offices of Barton Morris will fight to protect your rights when you are charged with a crime. Too often, police and prosecutors are more interested in meeting arrest quotas than finding actual justice. That is where our law firm steps in to work toward justice and see that your rights are protected throughout the entire process with our years of experience.
If you require the services of a criminal defense attorney in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County and beyond, including in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Bloomfield, Flint, Grand Rapids, Southfield, Port Huron, or Troy, contact our Michigan criminal defense attorneys today by completing our online contact form or calling us at 248-541-2600 to start with a free consultation at our law practice.