In a recent decision by the Michigan Supreme Court, one of the must unjust, barbaric laws in Michigan history finally has an injection of common sense and due process. Until today, there was no defense to a Child Support Felony charge. In other words, if an individual who was responsible to pay child support or spousal support failed to make a payment or failed to make a payment on a timely basis, he or she was subject to an indefensible prosecution as a felon. We are not talking about “dead beat dads” here. Many people, mostly dads, are simply unable to pay the court ordered support amount. Again, I’m not talking about those people who fail to make a good faith effort to pay support, I’m talking about those people who truly, honestly and categorically cannot pay the amount ordered and get prosecuted. The result is often a felony conviction and an even lower earning potential.
Today, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that for the first time, people charged with a crime for failing to pay child support can defend themselves by showing it was “impossible” for them to come up with money. The case is People v. Likine
Believe me, prosecutors will continue to relentlessly prosecute these cases. Judges will continue to unforgivingly punish those people who had the ability to pay and failed or refused to do so. The benefit is that those individuals who wanted to pay, made genuine, good faith efforts to pay, but it was verifiably impossible for them to pay would not be criminalized. Defendants are still statutorily precluded from using “inability to pay” as a defense (MCL 750.165).
Counties that are known for over zealous prosecution include: Oakland County, Wayne County and Macomb County. A great criminal defense attorney
that handles child support felony cases will do what is necessary to get the case dismissed, negotiate an extraordinary plea bargain and/or convince a judge to give an extremely lenient sentence.