Grand Rapids Criminal Defense And Family Law Blog

Spyware and GPS trackers used in some in divorce cases

After a separation or divorce, some people in Michigan could be the target of stalking by a former spouse. When the Justice Department did a study on stalking in 2012, it found that although 1.5 percent of the adult population reported experiencing stalking, that number went up to 3.3 percent for people who had been divorced or separated. Stalking may now be done by digital surveillance as people increasingly use GPS trackers and spyware to keep tabs on their ex-spouse's whereabouts and activities. Some attorneys say that clients can leave them criminally liable if they use evidence in the divorce gathered in an illegal way.

One woman believed her ex-husband used both of these. First, she noticed he always seemed to know when she went out of town and where she was. Although she initially suspected he had hired a private detective, she did not detect anyone following her. After a mechanic found a GPS tracker on her car that had been installed long after she left him, she went to the police. However, since her ex-husband was still listed as an owner of the car, installing the tracker was not illegal.

How to clear your criminal record in Michigan

While Michigan law allows for certain convictions to be kept off of your record entirely, many convictions become a part of your permanent history and follow you for the rest of your life—unless you take proactive measures to remove them. Fortunately, you have the opportunity to have your conviction cleared (expunged) from your record in some cases. Expungement can provide many benefits if you’re a former convict trying to make a fresh start and resume normalcy following your sentence.

Expungement essentially rewrites history and gives you a clean slate. The state deletes your criminal record so that it can never be accessed by the public. You are treated as though the expunged infractions never happened. This means, for example, that if you’re applying for a job, for admission to school or for housing, you are legally permitted to state that you have not been convicted of a crime.

Different degrees of retail fraud

Retail fraud is simply a term used in Michigan to describe the crime of shoplifting. Theft from stores is one of the most common crimes in the entire country with the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention reporting that police have caught over 10 million shoplifters in the last five years alone. 

As is the case with several other offenses, there are various degrees of retail fraud. The degree greatly influences the type of penalties a person faces, and it also alters how the attorney will build a defense.

What does equitable division of property mean?

In 2015, Michigan had a divorce rate of 6.0. This came out to over 29,000 divorces in that year alone, according to data from the state's Department of Health & Human Services.

Before pursuing a divorce in earnest, it is good if both parties have a complete understanding of the process. This means understanding that property becomes divided equitably and not equally. While people typically use the terms interchangeably, there is a big difference.

A co-parent is a better parent

Both Michigan society and the courts are favoring robust co-parenting arrangements. When parents otherwise may have an acrimonious relationship when they split, the newer atmosphere of consideration of what is in the best interests of the children may persuade them to work harder for a truce.

As noted by USA Today, it is more prevalent for the law to treat parents equally without regard to gender when it comes to visitation and custody. Long gone are the days when custody went to the mother by default and the father necessarily received far less time with the children.

How to exercise your right to remain silent

You may have heard that the law does not require you to talk to a law enforcement officer if he or she questions you. The Miranda warning even includes the clear statement that you have the right to remain silent. However, you do not necessarily want to just press your lips together and refuse to talk when an officer approaches you.

Here is what you need to know in an encounter with authorities.

Making your stepchild part of the family

If you are in a second marriage and your new spouse has a son or daughter, the subject of adoption may come up. Is this a good idea? Is everyone in favor of it, including the child? Adoption is a big decision and should be considered carefully.

First, you must be comfortable with the relationship you have with the child. If that is on firm footing and you want to make him or her part of the family officially, a family law attorney can guide you through the adoption process.

Tips for co-parenting

One nice theme in today’s divorces is when parents put the children first. Many courts prefer that couples work out their own parenting plan rather than rely on the judge’s discretion. While it can be difficult to create a co-parenting plan, if you and your spouse can put aside the emotions of the divorce to work together, it is much better for the child. Co-parenting brings stability and security to the child’s world after the upheaval of a divorce. 

To successfully co-parent, you will have to make a commitment to: 

  • Talk to the other parent about schedules, school events and behavior.
  • Encourage consistent rules between households. This doesn’t mean that houses cannot have separate rules, but things like bedtime, school work and chores should be consistent.
  • Agree to speak positively about the other parent when talking to your children.
  • Agree to not use the children to carry messages, even simple things.
  • Do ordinary things with the children. It can be tempting to want to one-up the other parent or to make grand gestures of fun when you do not have the children all the time.
  • Work with the other parent to resolve conflict.
  • Remember that shared parenting is not always 50/50 equal time. Be flexible and consider what works best for the child. 

Understanding the field sobriety tests

Since the 1970s, law enforcement officers have been pulling people over and administering three roadside tests that help them gauge whether a driver is impaired. While these tests are not perfect, they do produce certain results that could lead to an arrest, a chemical test and a DUI charge on your record.

AAA describes the Standardized Field Sobriety Test and what an officer is looking for.

Eyewitnesses do not make for an open-and-shut case

Eyewitnesses do not carry as much credibility as they used to. In fact, factors such as lighting can even lead people to misidentify strangers as people they think they know. Given this, it is realistic to question whether eyewitnesses in many criminal investigations are able to accurately identify potential suspects, especially if the two parties have never met. Here is a look at some of the top problems with eyewitnesses.

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