Fraud charges dismissed by appeals court in Michigan

When a celebrity is arrested for something as minor as misdemeanor disorderly conduct, Ann Arbor residents hear about it in the news. When a big-time felony case goes to jury trial and gets sensationalized in the national media, we hear about it. But when two men get felony charges dismissed in an appeals court decision in Michigan, does anyone know about it?That was the case recently, when two men who had been convicted in federal court had their charges dismissed. According to the reports, the men had allegedly been part of a fraud investigation involving approximately $7 million. One of the men had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a five-year prison term, while the other went to jury trial, was found guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to a 17-year prison term.So, what was the problem with their case? The constitutional right to a speedy trial. The appeal was based on the amount of time it took from the time they were indicted to when they were arrested - about three years. Apparently one of the men had been out of the country at the time of his indictment and the federal authorities did not want to risk an extraditing conflict with Switzerland, the country in which he was located. Authorities decided it would be better to arrest him when he returned to America. This type of delay has been the grounds for charges to be dismissed in an appeals court before, and now it appears that these two men will be released from custody.Felonies are the most serious charges a person could face. Being convicted of a felony charge will often end up costing a person much more than temporary inconveniences like license suspensions or probation supervision. Prison sentences are a real possibility in these types of cases. But, as this case goes to show, when there is a fight to be had, there should be no hesitation in pressing an individual's constitutional rights.Source: CBS Detroit, "Court Throws Out Charges In $7M Fraud Case," April 20, 2013
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