The following example of the government depriving a citizen of his basic constitutional rights is from Mississippi. Even though the case of Mr. Octavious Burks is from out of Michigan, similar examples of prosecutors and courts trampling the rights of Michigan citizens can be found in state and federal courts throughout Michigan on both felony and misdemeanor cases.
Mr. Burks has been waiting for 10 months. He is locked in a jail in Scott County, Mississippi. He has not been formally charged and he has not been assigned an attorney.
The same thing happened to Mr. Burks in 2009 and 2012. In each case, he was held for roughly a year. Each time, he was eventually released without a trial or a conviction. Mr. Burks has spent over three years of his life locked in a cell without ever being formally charged – let alone found guilty – of a crime.
In November, 2013, Mr. Burks was arrested in connection with a robbery. His bail was set at $30,000, which Ms. Burks could not afford. He also applied for a public defender. The court approved his request, but 10 months later he still has not been given an attorney – an advocate who could fight to lower his bail, challenge his arrest, or prepare for a trial.
Why not? Because he has never been formally charged with a crime.
In Scott County, no one gets a public defender until they have been indicted. In other places, this might not be a big deal. In Colorado, prosecutors have 72 hours after an arrest to formally indict someone. In Kansas, it is two weeks. However, Mississippi does not limit how long a prosecutor has to indict someone, even if that someone is wasting away in jail.
In Scott County, felony indictments are only issued three times a year, after a grand jury convenes to formally charge defendants with their crimes. So, if you are lucky, you might wait two months to hear about your charges. If you are unlucky, you are put off until the next session. That is at least another four months in jail. And if you are like Mr. Burks, you are left completely in the dark for months on end.
Mr. Burks is not alone – dozens of people are locked in the Scott County jail, without attorneys or formal charges. This problem is not exclusive to Scott County. People statewide are losing months and sometimes years of their lives to a seriously flawed justice system. That means years without work. Years without being able to care for their families. Years without knowing when the ordeal will end. All without the state having to prove a thing.
The Constitution protects you from being arbitrarily imprisoned on a mere allegation. When you’re accused of a crime, you have a right to an attorney, even if you can’t afford one. You have a right to a speedy trial. Scott County cannot pretend as if the Constitution doesn’t apply in its courts.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys – Fight to Protect Your Constitutional and Civil Rights
In Michigan, we do not have the same system as Mississippi. Michigan makes it an obligation to move criminal cases forward as expeditiously as possible. If you are facing the possibility of criminal charges you want to make sure that your rights are protected and you are not ignored, or lost in the system, like Mr. Burks. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are aggressive and relentless in protecting the constitutional rights of those people they represent. Our attorneys are well respected in the legal community as competent and zealous advocates for their clients.
If you have any questions, please contact the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Information Form and one of our attorneys will contact you.
“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!“
– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.