On June 2, 2011 the Michigan Court of Appeals released an unpublished opinion which could offer hope to people being charged as adults for crimes they allegedly committed when they were minors. The case is People of the State of Michigan vs. Christopher Blayne Kiyoshk. This was a 2006 case from the Kalamazoo Circuit Court. The defendant was originally charged with several counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 1 st degree (CSC 1st), a crime punishable by life in prison in the adult criminal justice system.
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In Michigan, there is a highly controversial practice of charging adults for crimes they allegedly committed when they were minors. Faced with the possibility of life in prison, the defendant accepted a plea agreement for a single count of CSC in the first degree, along with a limit on the sentence (the agreement was essentially for a sentence of 5 to 25 years in prison.) Today, the same crime would carry a mandatory minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison.
In this case, the Michigan Court of Appeals made a ruling that will help many adults who are being prosecuted for crimes that occurred before their fourteenth birthday. Essentially, the court ruled that it is the Family Division of the Circuit Court that has jurisdiction over crimes which occur prior to the accused 14th birthday. In other words, these cases must be brought as juvenile sex offenses, even though the Defendant is now an adult. However, the Court pointed out that the Family Division jurisdiction over juvenile crimes only lasts until the 21st birthday of the Defendant. This essentially creates a statute of limitations of sorts based upon the age of the accused, but only for crimes committed prior to the accused 14th birthday.
The bad news for the defendant is that although his plea was set aside, the Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney can now re-charge him on some of the previously dismissed charges which allegedly occurred when he was 14 years of age. This raises the ominous possibility that by winning his appeal he might face conviction of a juvenile crime in the adult system for which the punishment may be 25 years in prison.
We can expect further appellate decisions which deal with the many grey areas in this decision. As of this writing, it is not known whether the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor will appeal this decision.
This case illustrates the need for an experienced and effective sex crimes defense lawyer for persons facing prosecution for major felonies such as Criminal Sexual Conduct. The attorneys at Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC defend all major felony offenses and have successfully obtained not guilty verdicts of defendants facing life offense Criminal Sexual Conduct charges.