Attorney for Election Laws Crimes and Defenses
Under Michigan law, many election related activities are criminalized. It is important to know what they are because the law takes them seriously. If you are charged with a crime involving an election or voting, you need the help of a successful defense lawyer.
For alleged criminal activities, it is the responsibility of the county prosecutor to charge and prosecute state election crimes. As is the usual practice for the initiation of any state prosecution, the county prosecutor relies upon local law enforcement to do an investigation and prepare a report. The prosecutor reviews the report and any warrant request, and if satisfied a crime has been committed, the prosecutor issues a warrant for prosecution.
The Michigan Attorney General also handles the prosecution of election and voting-related crimes, and the process is similar to county prosecutions.
Statutory Authority for Police and Prosecutors
- “It is hereby made the duty of every prosecuting attorney, whenever he shall receive credible information than any such offense has been committed, to cause the same to be prosecuted.” (MCL 168.940)
- “It is hereby made the duty of any police, sheriff or peace officer, present and having knowledge of any violation of any of the provisions of this act, to forthwith institute criminal proceedings for the punishment of such offender.” (MCL 168.941)
Common Election Law Criminal Violations
Crimes relating to voting procedures carry potential jail time and include both misdemeanors and felonies. It would be too lengthy to list them all in this document, but the most commonly faced issues and important rules are as follows; people MAY NOT:
- Directly or indirectly give, lend, or promise anything of value to influence another’s vote or to have them refrain from voting. MCL 168.931(1)(a) [misdemeanor]
- Solicit votes or engage in any type of campaigning within 100 feet of any doorway used by voters to enter the building in which a polling place is located. Posting, displaying, or distributing within 100 feet of a polling place MCL 168.744; 931(1)(k). [misdemeanor];
- Improperly attempting to influence a person in giving his or her vote, or to deter the person from, or interrupt the person in giving his or her vote at any election held in this state. MCL 168.932(a) [felony]
- Breaking open or violating the seals or locks of any ballot box or voting machine, or causing willful damage to such a machine. A person shall not obtain illegal possession of that ballot box or voting machine. A person shall not conceal, withhold, or destroy a ballot box or voting machine, or fraudulently or forcibly add to or diminish the number of ballots legally deposited in the box or the totals on the voting machine. MCL 168.932(b) [felony]
- If a clerk or other officer willfully damages or falsifies any record, election list of voters, affidavit, return, statement of votes, certificates, poll book, or of any paper, document, or vote, or fraudulently make any entry, erasure, or alteration on any or all of those items, is guilty of a felony. MCL 168.932(c) [felony];
- Misrepresent by word or act in a polling place on election day that he or she is an election official if that person is not an election official. MCL 168.932e(1), (2) [felony]
- Names of elected or appointed public officials “shall not appear on any material that is temporarily posted, displayed, or distributed in a polling place or polling room on election day.” MCL 168.744(1) [misdemeanor]
- While an absentee voter is voting, attempt to influence the absentee voter on how he or she should vote. MCL 168.932(g), (h) [misdemeanor]
- Be in possession of another person’s absent voter ballot unless the person 1) is a member of the voter’s immediate family and has been asked by the voter to return the ballot 2) resides in the voter’s household and has been asked by the voter to return the ballot 3) is responsible for handling mail (but only during the course of his or her employment) or 4) is an authorized election official. (MCL 168.932(f)) [felony]
- Swear an oath falsely in order to register to vote or to vote. MCL 168.933 [felony]
Defenses to Election Law Criminal Violations
As can be seen, the election laws are extremely complicated, and people engaging in the system may easily and inadvertently find themselves on the wrong side of the law. The rules covered above are only a sample of the total laws on the books. Sometimes innocent people are arrested and charged for things they honestly did not know were illegal.
Election Law Defense Attorneys in Michigan
Having decades of combined experience exclusively in criminal defense, the expert Defense Team at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. know that innocent people get charged with crimes every day. And we know that even if a crime was committed, there is often a reasonable explanation that can be pointed out to a judge or prosecutor. Our passion is to help everyone charged with a crime, even if it seems the situation is hopeless. We strive every day to fight the good fight for our clients, have charges dismissed, have cases thrown out of court, and put clients back on the path they were on before being charged with a crime.
The highly experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Michigan courts and federal courts. We have an unparalleled track record for providing the highest quality defense, while showing compassion and close attention to each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.