Welcome back and thanks for joining us here at The Kronzek Firm for this discussion on ways Michigan’s criminal justice system might be improved in the future. As we shared with you last time, the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration has come up with 18 recommendations that they recently presented to the state’s legislators with the hopes that policy changes can make the system better for everyone.
Before making recommendations, the task force collected data, heard testimonies, and met with members of the public to gather data (and we shared some of their findings with you in the previous article.) Now we’d like to take a look at a couple of the recommendations they made based on that data.
Recommendation: Reduce driver’s license suspensions
As we pointed out before, about half of the people in Michigan jails right now are there for traffic infractions, which is a lot! And one of those traffic infractions that seem to come up a lot is the issue of driving on a suspended license. According to the Free to Drive Campaign, not showing up to a court date, not paying court-ordered fees and fines, and being convicted of a drug-related offense can all result in your license being suspended.
However, it’s been claimed that poverty plays a role in several of these situations, which is why the task force is recommending that license suspensions be reduced. People who lose their licenses because they can’t afford to pay a minor ticket then lose their ability to drive to work legally, which means they have to choose between losing their jobs and risking jail. Instead, they’re suggesting that license suspensions only get used when the infraction was related to safe driving practices, like drunk driving.
Opponents of this recommendation question whether a person that won’t pay a minor traffic ticket will be paying for car insurance, or whether they can afford a safe car or gasoline. Those opponents feel that not paying a traffic ticket is a choice rather than a poverty problem. They also remind us that violating the law is a choice that causes the driver to be ticketed in the first place. It’s hard to tell which side is right.
Recommendation: Revise cash bail laws
According to the task force, Michigan’s cash bail laws are somewhat antiquated. This is because Michigan relies heavily on the use of cash bail, when in fact it’s apparently fairer to release most defendants on personal recognizance or unsecured bonds, both of which don’t require payment upfront. The logic behind this is that only a percentage of people can afford cash bail, which, they claim, makes freedom a privilege for the upper classes.
The task force has proposed that cash bail only be used by the courts in cases where the defendant poses a risk of absconding, or of harming others or themselves, and they’ve also been charged with a violent offense, a sex crime, or a serious nonviolent crime. Any defendant who doesn’t meet the criteria for being offered release on personal recognizance or unsecured bond, would be offered the ‘least restrictive’ non-monetary conditions of release.
Your best bet is to get the best criminal defense lawyer you can afford!
We’ve said it time and again to our readers – if you want to have the best possible outcome in your case, you have to hire the best possible criminal lawyer to defend you. As in all areas of life, you get what you pay for when it comes to legal defense. And so a bargain-bin lawyer is often going to get you a less-than-stellar defense (to say the least). And with your entire future on the line, that isn’t what you want! It is said that those that choose to work cheap, know their own value.
We applaud the task force’s efforts to streamline and equalize Michigan’s criminal justice system. BUt we also recognize that despite anyone’s best efforts, criminal justice will never be entirely fair. It will always be skewed against the defendant (after all, they’re the one accused of committing a crime!). So if you’ve been accused of committing a crime, call our criminal defense team at 866 766 5245 (866 7NoJail) today and make sure your team is made up of fierce and aggressive lawyers with decades of defense experience, so you can ensure the best possible outcome in your case!