On Tuesday, July 22, 49-year-old Joseph A. Howell of Saginaw was arraigned on charges of sexually assaulting a young girl beginning in January of 2008, and continuing through December of 2011. According to a news article at Mlive.com, Howell was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 13, and two counts of second-degree CSC with a victim younger than 13.
Court records revealed that the alleged victim notified staff at the Nathan Weidner Children’s Advocacy Center about the molestations by Howell. The young girl told staff that Howell had digitally penetrated her on numerous occasions at a Bay City residence.
Howell is attempting to get disability payments due to health concerns, and is not employed. He was arraigned via closed-circuit television in front of Bay County Chief District Judge Timothy J. Kelly from his jail cell. Howell’s preliminary exam is scheduled for August 5. His bond was set at $250,000 cash-surety.
Second-degree CSC is a 15 year offense, while first-degree criminal sexual conduct can result in a life prison term for those convicted. If found guilty, Howell could spend the remainder of his life behind bars.
Michigan sex crime attorneys know there are legal options for those accused of sexual assault, child molestation, and other related crimes. Depending on the situation and whether the alleged offender is guilty or innocent, an experienced lawyer may advise the client that working a plea agreement with prosecutors may be advantageous. In a situation where the evidence against the defendant is substantial or overwhelming, it may be best to plead guilty to a lesser charge, which typically results in a reduced sentence.
Ultimately, a seasoned attorney will work first and foremost to have charges dismissed, or to reach a not-guilty verdict. However, in situations where this is not possible, there are a variety of legal strategies that may work to the defendant’s advantage. Whatever the circumstances, it is vital to consult with a skilled and aggressive Michigan sex crimes lawyer.