Attorney Erred In Not Advising Client Of Potential 25-year Prison Sentence In State of Michigan v. Douglas

A recent Lenawee County sex abuse case has been sent back to circuit court as the result of attorney error. A Michigan appellate court determined that the defendant was not given a fair trial due to a number of attorney mistakes, including the failure to be given the opportunity to accept a plea bargain and avoid a mandatory 25-year-prison term.

In People of Michigan v. Douglas, Douglas was accused of first-degree criminal sexual conduct based on allegations that he had a 3-year-old girl perform oral sex on him while he was living in Franklin Township. According to MCL 750.520(b), if a person is found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree involving an individual who is under the age of 13, he or she may face a prison sentence of up to 25 years in jail.

If you have been charged with a sex crime, it is important to consult with an experienced Michigan sex crimes defense attorney right away to begin an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. Further, in many instances even if you have been convicted or accepted a plea deal that seems unfair, you may seek appellate review with an experienced Michigan sex crimes appeals attorney.

At trial, Douglas asserted that the allegations were made up by the girl’s mother who was mad at him for leaving her and marrying another woman. A jury convicted him at the end of trial and sentenced him to a 7 to 30-year term, which was then amended to a 25-37 ½ year term. On appeal, the court determined that Douglas’ counsel made a variety of errors including:

• not advising Douglas about the risk of a 25-year prison term;
• not objecting to improper testimony by prosecution witnesses; and
• failing to question the girl about inconsistent statements at trial.


Douglas testified that despite his innocence, he would have accepted the offer of a 10 month plea bargain if he knew he risked a possible 25 year sentence. The Court of Appeals determined that “the cumulative effect of the trial errors denied him a fair trial.”

This case underscores the need to have an aggressive and knowledgeable sex crimes defense attorney represent you as soon as you are under investigation for any type of criminal sexual conduct.

For more information or if you have been charged or convicted of any sex crime, please contact the top Michigan sex crime appeals lawyers at Grabel & Associates for an immediate consultation.