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4 Ways To Be Removed From The Sex Offender Registry

Many people believe that Michigan’s sex offender registry laws are far too broad. In fact, Michigan has the fourth largest per capita number of people on its registry.

Sex offender registry laws in Michigan apply to a variety of crimes ranging from brutal assault to sexual contact between teenagers and certain kidnapping charges that do not involve any form of sexual contact. In addition to being listed on the registry, offenders must also appear in person to update information whenever they purchase a new vehicle or acquire a new email or messaging account.

Under current state laws, convicted sex offenders in Michigan are not allowed to live, work or loiter within 1000 feet of a school. These laws have long been argued as being ineffective and going far beyond simply protecting the public.

Removing Your Name From Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry

Fortunately, it is possible to have your name removed from Michigan’s sex offender registry. The Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA), Public Act of 2011, has made it possible for certain sex offenders in Michigan to petition to have their name removed from the registry after a period of ten years. Individuals that qualify for removal include those that meet the “Romeo and Juliet” exception as well as juvenile offenders that were convicted when they were less than 14 years of age if the conviction occurred before July 1st, 2011.

The SORA Tier System

SORA laws separate sex offenders into three tiers. Each tier determines the type of registration required as well as an individual’s eligibility for removal from the registry.

Tier I offenses are the least serious. Tier I offenders must register on a non-public list for 15 years with the opportunity to petition for removal after 10. Non-public sex offender registries are only available to law enforcement officials. Tier II offenders must register on the public sex offender registry for 25 years, while Tier III offenders are required to register on the public registry for life. The public sex offender registry lists the names and addresses of sex offenders, and is available to anyone searching a specific geographic region.

Not everyone is available for a removal or reduction in the time required to register. The following are the four ways in which an individual can petition the courts for a removal or reduction.

1. Removal in “Romeo and Juliet” consensual cases
2. Reduction in length of registration for Tier I and Tier III offenses
3. Removal of juvenile adjudications
4. Removal for individuals convicted of crimes no longer listed as offenses

Statutory Rape “Romeo and Juliet” Cases

The legal age for consent in Michigan is 16 years old. If one or both parties are under 16 when they participate in a sexual act, the older party can be convicted as a sex offender even if the sex was consensual. The new SORA laws allow convicted sex offenders to petition to be removed from the registry for life as long as the “victim” consented to the sex act and was no younger than 13 years old, and the “offender” was no more than 4 years older than the “victim”.

Tier III Reductions

Tier III offenders who were minors at the time of their offense might be able to petition for a removal from the registry 25 years after the date of conviction. In order to be eligible for a removal or reduction of time on the registry, the individual must prove that they are no longer a threat to the general public. It’s important to note that adult offenders and Tier II offenders are not eligible for removal or reduction.

The petition and hearing process is extremely complex, and you only get one chance to clear your name. It’s important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. The attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law have many years of experience dealing with sex crimes. Please contact us to learn how we can help.

New Michigan Laws That Lawyers Need to Know About

Laws are constantly changing. It can be difficult for lawyers to keep up. However, it’s extremely important for attorneys to fully understand the law including any changes, as they can impact cases and the advice that lawyers are able to provide.

Since July 1st, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed approximately 25 new laws. Michigan lawyers should know and understand these laws. Here are some of the most important new laws to know about.

Female Genital Mutilation Becomes a 15-Year Felony in Michigan

Perhaps the most significant law passed in Michigan this year is Public Acts 68-79, which makes female genital mutilation a 15-year felony for both the doctors who perform the procedure as well as the parents who allow it.

Current federal law makes female genital mutilation a 5-year felony. The new law in Michigan is ten years tougher, increases the statute of limitations for victims to file a civil lawsuit, and provides for greater public awareness campaigns, especially among immigrant and refugee populations.

Public Act 81 was also passed. This law allows for a health professional’s license or registration to be permanently revoked if the individual is convicted of female genital mutilation.

New Laws Modify Michigan’s Concealed Pistol Licensing Law and Decriminalize Switchblades

Another notable new law modifies Michigan’s concealed pistol licensing law. Public Act 95 changes the state’s Concealed Pistol Licensing (CPL) application and licensing process to include a requirement that sheriffs must notify city clerks if an individual becomes ineligible for a CPL, unless Michigan State Police or the County Sheriff has determined the applicant is not prohibited under federal law from possessing or transporting a firearm.

Also passed this year was Public Act 96, which eliminates current law prohibiting the sale and possession of spring-assisted knives, commonly known as switchblades.

Michigan’s Top Litigation Experts

When you need the help of an attorney, it’s important to choose a law firm that keeps up with current laws. At Nessel and Kessel Law Firm, we know how important it is to understand the law. Our extensive knowledge puts us in the best position to approach each case and properly advice our clients. Please contact us for more information about our practice.

Joint Custody Now Required for Divorced Couples in Michigan

A new bill passed the House Judiciary Committee last month requiring divorced couples in Michigan to share joint custody of their children. The bill removes discretion from judges in child custody cases.

Opponents of the Bill

Opponents of the bill include judges, advocates against domestic violence, family court employees and the entire family law section of the State Bar of Michigan. These opponents argue that joint custody could pose a number of problems for both parents and their children.

Having children split their time equally between two households can be confusing and make it difficult for children to put down roots. Shared parenting responsibilities can lead to problems with employment, daycare and schooling. Joint custody also enables parents to bargain for reduced child support obligations.

Joint Legal Custody

Barring domestic violence cases, the bill requires judges in Michigan to grant joint legal custody and equal parenting time. It also prohibits either parent from moving more than eighty miles from the other parent. Children that are age sixteen or older will be given preference on custody.

The bill requires that each parent receives no more than 200 overnights per year with their children.

Joint Custody in Michigan

Joint custody is a popular option among divorcing couples. It is often easier than choosing one parent to have sole custody while the other has reasonable parenting time. As with any situation after divorce, parents must work diligently to make their new family units work.

Michigan has always presumed that it is in the child’s best interest to have a close relationship with both parents. It is extremely rare to encounter a divorced couple in Michigan where one parent has sole custody of the children.

Family Law Attorneys in Michigan

At Nessel and Kessel Law, we understand how difficult divorce can be, especially when children are involved. We work directly with our clients to ensure their parental rights are recognized by the courts. We can help you understand how this new bill will affect your divorce and the custody of your children.

If you are concerned that your parental rights are not being recognized by the courts, or that your child’s other parent is trying to deny you of your parenting time, we can help. Please contact us for more information.

Dana Nessel Discusses the Expansion of LGBT Protections Under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act

Dana Nessel, one of the leading litigators of LGBT issues in Michigan, spoke out in an interview with Stateside about the lack of federal laws protecting LGBT people.

Currently, there are no federal or state protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. Prior protections imposed by the Obama administration are currently being rolled back by the Trump administration. Without support on the federal level, it is up to each state to implement protections for the LGBT community.

Because of her extensive litigation experience, Dana Nessel is considered one of the top criminal attorneys in Michigan. She began her private practice in 2005 and became a staunch defender of constitutional rights. Dana is currently recognized as one of the premier litigators of LGBT issues.

Dana is concerned by the injustices faced by the LGBT community in Michigan. She spoke with Stateside last month about these issues.

“The LGBT community frequently faces evictions, termination from employment and refusal of medical treatment for both them and their children.” said Dana Nessel of Nessel & Kessel Law. “This makes it incredibly scary to be an LGBT person in the state of Michigan.”

Expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the LGBT community could be extremely beneficial to the bottom line of Michigan-based businesses. It would make it possible for companies to access and retain top talent and increase their sales. Currently, LGBT people and their allies avoid living in Michigan because of its treatment of the LGBT community.

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act passed in Michigan in 1977. The act prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight or marital status when it comes to housing, education, employment and access to public accommodations. There have been many efforts since 1983 to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the LGBT community.

“70% of Michigan residents support equal rights for LGBT people.” said Nessel “Unfortunately, because of gerrymandering this expansion is not likely to occur in the near future. The best opportunity we have for an amendment of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is through a ballot proposal.”

About Nessel & Kessel Law

Nessel & Kessel Law was established in 2012 by Dana Nessel and Chris Kessel. Nessel & Kessel Law specializes in cases that other attorneys tend to avoid. Nessel & Kessel received national attention for Dana Kessel’s case against Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. Today, Nessel & Kessel law is one of Michigan’s top criminal defense firms. For a consultation, you can contact us.

Michigan Task Force Fights for Emergency Manager Rule Reform

Flint. Its struggles are known the nation over, but no one seems able to do much about it — though they try. The clean water crisis that began in the riverbed has inspired Democrats and Republicans as part of a Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency to put forth 30 policy proposals intended to limit the amount of lead allowed in public drinking water and to punish those who disregard these guidelines. One such proposal would reform the state’s emergency manager rule, which grants which grants a single individual, appointed by the governor, the power to step in and mitigate crises.

The rule was designed and enacted to protect Michigan and its people in the event of an emergency, but two such individuals appointed in Flint stood idly by while the city’s water safety deteriorated. Attorney General has been quoted acknowledging the rule’s failure in this instance, but still argues its overall value. An independent task force appointed by Snyder, however, found that this string of unelected managers made “key decisions that contributed to the crisis,” effectively hindering “the checks and balances and public accountability that come with public decision-making.”

Michigan’s Emergency Manager Rule needs reform.

The following content originally appeared in the Detroit News on April 6, 2017.

In a report released more than a year ago, the task force called for a review of the emergency manager law, urged policy makers to consider alternatives and stressed the need to ensure proper support and expertise to help appointees run local governments or school districts.

The special legislative committee echoed those calls in October, suggesting the state replace the single emergency manager with a three-person financial management team comprised of a financial expert, local government operations expert and local ombudsman.

Beyond informal discussions last year, there have been no substantive talks about reforming the law, which Snyder signed in late 2012 after Michigan voters overturned an earlier version.

“Based on the fact the Legislature’s own special committee recommended changes, I think the Legislature is going to be hard up to explain why they haven’t addressed it,” said Ken Sikkema, a Republican and former state Senate majority leader who co-chaired the governor’s task force. “It’s not that complicated.”

New Muslim Travel Ban Faces Legal Challenges in Michigan

Thanks to a revised Executive Order signed on March 6, a new travel ban targeting majority Muslim nations will take effect this Thursday — or it might not. Attorneys from Michigan to Hawaii and beyond, as they work tirelessly in the name of civil rights and justice, have filed lawsuits demanding immediate censure of “an illegal and discriminatory attempt to ban Muslims,” so says Arab American Civil Rights League Director Rula Aoun.

“In America, we don’t target and prohibit people because of how they pray — and we don’t impose religious litmus tests on immigrants,” Aoun said. An attorney for the ACLU, Lee Gelernt, agrees with Aoun: The new order “discriminates on the basis of religion” and “will bring significant hardship to many people inside and outside the country.”

Where the original order banned citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and Syrian citizens indefinitely, the new version removes Iraq and lifts the indefinite ban on Syrians. Opponents including the Arab-American Civil Rights League, the ACLU, and Nessel & Kessel Law hold that the ban will render harm not just to people but to tourism, morale, and the economy as well.

A federal judge could strike down the ban tonight.

The largest legal assault is a lawsuit filed by Washington state and joined by California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon. They argue that the ban will hurt their economies by limiting students and professors who can work and study at state universities, reducing tourism from the Middle East and curbing employment from those countries.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who halted Trump’s first ban, is hearing this lawsuit, too. He gave government lawyers until Tuesday night to file a response. Robart could issue an order immediately after that, or schedule a hearing later this week.

Source: USA Today

Dana Nessel Leads the Charge Against LGBTQIA Hate in Michigan

In these times of tumult and political unrest, Nessel & Kessel remains steadfast in its commitment to defending the rights of all citizens but particularly those who identify as part of the often marginalized LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersexual, asexual) community. There was no greater honor for our Detroit family law firm than to have represented April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse in a suit to protect the sanctity of their family; we went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States!

But DeBoer and Rowse were not the first, and haven’t been the last Michiganders to seek legal counsel and advice from Chris Kessel and Dana Nessel regarding issues concerning life, love, family, and civil rights.

LGBTQIA advocate Dana Nessel & Fair Michigan selected to help combat hate crimes in Detroit.

Fair Michigan — a nonprofit led by Dana Nessel that proclaims to “create a Michigan where the presence and contributions of everyone are welcomed and celebrated regardless of their gender, gender identity, sex, or sexual orientation” — was approached by Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy to address a growing problem in the region. “I noticed a national trend, ticking upward, of people being killed because of their sexual orientation,” said Worthy in a statement.

The group led by Nessel has taken up an initiative, appointing an investigator and a special prosecutor to work in conjunction with the Wayne County judicial system, to solve and prosecute especially heinous crimes committed against the LGBTQIA community.

Nessel was recently featured in the Detroit Jewish News for these very same efforts, highlighting the successes on behalf of civil justice in Michigan.

The following content was originally published on January 18, 2017.

So far, there have been five convictions, with five more pending, plus two criminal sexual conduct cases that include a serial rapist who had been targeting victims inside and outside the LGBTQ community.

“You stem the violence by successfully prosecuting [the perpetrators],” Nessel said. “It sends a message. I know this is a way to stem the violence, make the community safer.”

FMJP’s special prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz, a former assistant prosecutor, and special investigator Vicki Yost, a former Inkster police chief and deputy chief for the Detroit Police Department, work in conjunction with Worthy and her staff to bring about justice by charging and convicting the perpetrators of these violent crimes, especially those cases where victims or witnesses were previously afraid to come forward.

“People who would never have called the police are coming to us,” said Nessel, who serves as president of the organization in addition to being a partner in the Downtown Detroit firm of Nessel & Kessel Law. “I give great credit to Kym Worthy. I don’t know anywhere else in the country with a task force for this.”

New Laws Affecting Michigan Residents in 2017

As a new year dawns, the state and federal government is changing. New laws are taking effect in Michigan, and it’s important for residents to be aware of how and in what ways they will be affected.

The minimum wage has gone up.

As of January 1, 2017 the state minimum wage is higher than it once was: newly $8.90 an hour, from $8.50. The minimum wage will again rise on January 1, 2017 to $9.25 an hour.

But so too has the cost of getting around.

The average price to fuel up in Michigan increased nearly 30 cents due to a gas tax increase of 7.3 cents, to 19 cents per gallon. The diesel tax, once 15 cents per gallon, also saw an increase, 11.3 cents per gallon. And that’s not all. Earlier this month, the state of Michigan increased annual vehicle registration fees by roughly 20 percent; the $1.3 billion in expected revenue is earmarked for road projects.

Telemedicine comes to Michigan.

Under a new law enacted by the Governor, Michigan residents can see the doctor without ever leaving their homes. Telemedicine has the power to ensure thousands of rural Michiganders have access to convenient and reliable healthcare without ever leaving their homes. Approved physicians will soon be able to consult with and prescribe patients medication via virtual environment.

There’s a new ban on banning plastic bags.

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley signed legislation prohibiting the regulation of plastic shopping bags. Expected to become effective sometime in April, the new law bars individual municipalities from prohibiting, taxing, or otherwise governing the use of “auxiliary containers”, reusable or single-use bags, cups, bottles or other packaging from stores and restaurants. One county, Washtenaw, had passed a small fee to be levied on disposable grocery bags it expected to begin enforcing this spring, but new state law will override this decision.

Medical marijuana laws legalize resin and oil, impose a tax.

“In addition to dried leaves and flowers being legal to possess for patients,” explained Matt Abel, executive director of Michigan NORML, “the legislature has added the words resin and extract, so now concentrated forms of cannabis will be legal in Michigan … and topical oils and ointments, tinctures, which are a liquid that someone might put under their tongue, beverages and edibles.”

The new laws, which are seen largely as a victory for the marijuana lobby in the state, introduce a new tax on dispensary shops and set guidelines for state licensing and monitoring systems for the product from “seed to sale.”

What do you think of the new laws in Michigan in 2017?

Let us know.

‘Tis the Season for Christmas Caroling, Cocoa… and Lawsuits?

For most, the Christmas season is a time to be jolly, but for some others, it’s time to go to court.

They’re dreaming of anything but a white Christmas.

One North Carolina jeweler made a wager with its customers in 2010, promising free baubles for all if Asheville saw a white Christmas. It was a gimme they figured. No way. Much to the owners’ chagrin, six inches of snow fell that day. Sure enough, they made good on their offer of free jewelry. This wasn’t enough for one customer, however, who received a $7000 refund minus tax and sued the store for the remaining $600. A judge found in favor of the defendant.

Include Hannukah, or else.

Poor Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday so often forgotten in favor of its more mainstream, Christian counterpart, Christmas. Ornamented trees and poinsettia dominate the landscape, and often there’s nary a menorah to be found. Over this, a retired lawyer and resident of Leesburg, Florida sued the Lake County Retirement Community. And he won, too. His prize: an ornate menorah erected on the grounds of the neighborhood.

In the pacific northwest, executives at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport outright refused to include a menorah in their holiday display, and disgruntled travelers threatened to sue. Instead of complying with the request, SeaTac dismantled the display entirely — only to reinstate it some time later. They never added a menorah.

Gone caroling with instruments of torture…

Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been sued no fewer than six times over what some have considered cruel and unusual treatment; Arpaio would stream holiday music through prison speakers for as many as 12 hours per day. To date, the courts have found in the sheriff’s favor each time.

Have yourself a happy holiday season.

In 2013, an elementary school in South Carolina was forced to cancel its Operation Christmas Child toy drive after receiving correspondence from the American Humanist Association on behalf of a parent apprehensive about the program’s association with a Christian-based organization. This isn’t the first time concerns over religious undertones led to the end or banning of certain holiday tidings. One Texas principal denied a student from handing out candy canes with evangelical notes attached, while another school administrator in Texas confiscated pencils that read, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

They’re basically Clark Griswold.

Except the name is Osborne. Mitzi and Jennings Osborne were sued in the 90s over an excessive light display that comprised more than 3 million lights. The Griswolds have nothing on these people. Six neighbors came together to demand the Osbornes’ light show be limited to certain hours of the day for a limited number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. From local and district courts to Washington, and despite the defendants’ appeal, the plaintiffs’ request was granted.

Hiring a Lawyer in Michigan Requires Planning & Research

A lawyer isn’t someone whose name you pick from a simple Google search result and ask, “Where do I sign?” No. Just as you would plan and research any major investment, so too should you carefully vet any Michigan lawyer for hire to serve your case. When faced with family litigation or criminal charges, consider the following steps to hiring an attorney.

Conduct a thorough interview to determine if the attorney’s skillsets match your needs.

Most reputable attorneys in Michigan host an initial consultation appointment free of charge; use this opportunity to get to know the lawyer you are considering to hire, and to assess his/her ability to serve your case. Ask of his experience in the particular legal matter; how long he has been in practice; her track record of success; the weight of her overall caseload; any special skills and certifications; fees and billing; and for references too.

When hiring a lawyer in Michigan, it is important to know how he will keep you apprised of the goings on in your case, but also just as important is how she makes you feel: Was she prompt and courteous in response to your questions? Is she someone with whom you’ll feel comfortable sharing private details of your life?

Trust your instincts, but also:

Run a background check.

Before hiring any lawyer for any reason at all, you might be wise to contact the Attorney Discipline Board to confirm he is in good standing as a member of the bar.

Ask other attorneys.

No one understands the legal system and how to navigate it like lawyers, and so the best resource available to you is another lawyer. Just as, perhaps more important to consider when hiring a lawyer in Michigan than education and fees is ethics, competence, reputation. Other attorneys will be best able to share this information with you.

Tour the law office.

They say first impressions are everything. So drop by for a visit.

We strive to make the law offices of Nessel & Kessel an accessible, welcoming place for potential and current clients. Here you’ll be met with friendly, smiling faces working efficiently for you.

When you need a lawyer in Michigan, call Nessel & Kessel.

Nessel & Kessel Law is one of Michigan’s top criminal defense firms and general litigation experts. We have a record for fighting for our clients and gaining excellent outcomes. Let us help you get the results you deserve.