Being arrested by law enforcement in Michigan is a harrowing experience for most people. In many cases, occupants of vehicles in a traffic stop feel intimidated by the police officers, and they forget that they can refuse to answer questions. A recent case that led to a passenger facing several felonies shows that not only the driver but also all the occupants of a vehicle can land in trouble with law enforcement.
Advances in DNA technology have led to multiple arrests and convictions on cold cases that involve violent crimes such as rape and murder. It has also been effective in proving the innocence of wrongfully convicted individuals in Michigan and other states. However, a recent arrest for a 2017 hijacking shows that DNA evidence can also be used in other felonies. Investigators in another state used DNA to formally charge a man who is accused of hijacking a motorcycle at gunpoint.
Many trial watchers in Michigan and across the country are following the case of a 23-year-old man who is accused of lying to federal agents by claiming to be Timmothy Pitzen. Pitzen vanished in 2011 and would now be 14 years old. If convicted of the felony level accusations, the accused man could be sentenced to serve a prison term in a federal penitentiary of up to eight years.
Teenagers in Michigan who like to prank others might not know where to draw the line. Certain pranks are severe enough to be classified as crimes that could put them behind bars. An example is a teenager in another state who thought it was fun to make prank calls and landed up being charged with 40 felonies and multiple misdemeanors.
Investigators in Michigan and other states have come to rely heavily on DNA for forensic testing. It is widely used in cold case felonies and in cases in which convicted individuals claim their innocence. However, they have always been stumped when a suspect is one of a set of identical twins. Following international research, U.S. criminal courts may permit use of DNA tests to distinguish between identical twins in the not too distant future.
Many cold cases involving violent crimes like homicide and rape have been solved by using forensic evidence. However, investigators nationwide, including Michigan, can use DNA samples gathered at the crime scenes of various felonies to solve cold cases. Law enforcement in another state recently arrested a suspect in a July 2017 case of a carjacking.
Social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is used more and more to obtain evidence to present at criminal trials. It has long been a source of information to use in civil and family lawsuits, but anyone in Michigan who is facing criminal charges for felonies might be wise to limit activities on social media. At the same time, they might want to discourage friends or family members from posting incriminating images.
DNA technology features in identifying many cold cases across the country, including Michigan. Felonies that could not be solved decades ago might now be reopened, and the availability of advanced DNA methods could throw new light on the unsolved cases. One such a case was recently reported in another state, and a man who police say was sought for 25 years was recently arrested for a murder that happened in 1993.
Every year, the state's Health Care Fraud Division investigates cases that involve the filing of fraudulent claims and embezzlement of benefits. These felonies could lead to significant fines and jail sentences if convictions are obtained. A 50-year-old Michigan woman who faces charges of felony embezzlement is likely exploring her defense options.
By signing the First Step Act into law recently, President Trump brought about the first step in the reform of criminal justice. He did this by altering the guidelines for federal sentences. While Michigan and other states will likely take additional steps, judges will have leeway that they did not previously have when it comes to sentencing convicted criminals, regardless of the severity of the felonies committed.