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Criminal Law in Michigan

If you’re researching Michigan criminal defense lawyers, it is likely not a good thing. If you need a defense attorney, we’ll bottom-line how to find one fast: Ask your local bar association or friends for referrals or simply Google, “How to find a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney.”

If you’re in doubt, unsure whether you need to consult with an attorney, don’t hesitate; call and ask if an attorney can help you. After all, if you’re being questioned or have been arrested for a crime, you could go to jail, pay a fine, or lose your driver’s license.

In addition, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure how to move forward. If this sounds like what you are feeling, this article was written for you.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Michigan criminal laws;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in Michigan; and
  • How to work with your Michigan criminal defense attorney.

Michigan Criminal Laws

Certain actions or inactions are classified as crimes in an attempt to prevent harm.

Michigan criminal laws are found in the Michigan Penal Code. “Penal” means “punishment”. There are hundreds of crimes listed in the Michigan Penal Code, including crimes against property, crimes against persons, crimes against animals, drug crimes, weapon offenses, and traffic offenses.

Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred. If the statute of limitations has passed in a case, charges cannot be brought.

For example, in Michigan, the statute of limitations for:

  • Arson is 5 years. (Mich. Comp. Laws В§767.24(5)).
  • Kidnapping is 10 years. (Mich. Comp. Laws В§767.24(3)).
  • Receiving Stolen Property is 5 years. (Mich. Comp. Laws В§767.24(5)).

If criminal laws are not honored, punishment, jail time, fines, restitution, education, and counseling may be ordered.

While Michigan judges have total discretion in sentencing those convicted of a crime, they usually use a point system to analyze the circumstances of a case and then apply Michigan state sentencing guidelines. Past criminal history and violence are considered.

For example, in Michigan, sentencing guidelines call for:

  • Less than a year of jail time for conviction of a misdemeanor.
  • More than one year of jail time for conviction of a felony.

Your criminal defense attorney can provide a specific sentence range for the crime you are being accused of.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

  • You need a criminal defense attorney even if you know you are completely innocent.
  • The sooner you hire a lawyer, the better.
  • If you have been arrested, meaning that police do not allow you to leave the police station or wherever you are, you need a lawyer.
  • You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
  • Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney. Your words can be used against you.

How to Work with a Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

  • Remember anything you say to a criminal defense attorney will be held in confidence.
  • Answer the questions your lawyer asks of you.
  • Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened.
  • Return all phone calls promptly.
  • Provide all requested information in a timely manner.
  • Stay in contact with your attorney.
  • Make sure the criminal defense office always has your current address and phone number.
  • Remember your criminal defense attorney is always working in your best interests, even if he or she asks difficult questions or is polite and cooperative with the police and prosecutors.

If you have been questioned in or arrested for a crime in Michigan, get good legal help, immediately. You need individualized advice and aggressive representation and an attorney who can develop a strong defense strategy.

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