Domestic Diversions

Distinct dates

The Michigan Supreme Court issued its per curiam opinion in People v. Monaco (Case No. 126852, 2/1/2006). All seven justices agreed that the statute of limitations for felony non-support is the six year “catch-all” period in MCL 767.24(5). The justices rejected the prosecution’s theory that the 10 year period in MCL 750.165(1) applied. That longer period applied only to civil actions for collection on monetary obligations.

The 5-2 majority (Taylor, Cavanagh, Corrigan, Young and Markman) also held that felony non-support is not a continuing offense. Each failure to pay the ordered amount of support at the ordered time constituted a separate criminal violation, each with its own distinct date. The dissent (Kelly and Weaver) argued that a failure to pay is by its nature continuous and cannot be a one-time event.

Both the majority and the dissent analyzed the legislature’s statutory intent by pointing to the “plain language” of the statute. The fact that the justices reached different destinations on the same flight could motivate legislative action. But the legislature is confronted with many and varied problems, and of course, it may not be offended by the interpretation of the five-justice majority.

The message to prosecutors is if you hesitate, you lose. The custodial parent loses. And ultimately, the child loses. In Monaco, the State delayed its prosecution until 8 years after the youngest child had turned 18, the amount of support had exceeded $57,000, and court order itself had celebrated its 18th anniversary. If the State had not waited so long to prosecute, the mother may have received some support from the father, and the father may have heeded the “wake-up call” and commenced payments (or perhaps petitioned for modification if his support obligation was out-of-date), so many judicial resources would not have been devoted to such a stale claim.

Prosecutors who are serious about felony non-support should act quickly. Time really is money, and justice delayed can become justice denied.

In the short term, some so-called “deadbeat” parents may benefit from this opinion. Their cases will be thrown out or never filed because the State moved too slowly to prosecute them. But if the State gets the message, it will focus the resources it chooses to devote to criminal support enforcement on early intervention and true “deadbeats,” those with available resources but an intent to ignore the court’s orders.


Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/domestic/public_html/wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 399

4 thoughts on “Distinct dates

  1. Michael Young, Esq.

    Civil remedies seem to be more effective than criminal prosecution. In particular license suspension (driver’s licenses, professional licenses, hunting licenses, etc.) are means to get the deadbeat parent’s attention. Unfortunately, until the pain of noncompliance is greater than ‘benefits’ of nonpayment, parents will continue to evade their support obligations.

  2. Al Frazier

    In Tennessee, most of the rural county district attorneys seem to get it right. They mostly pursue civil contempt. In the metropolitan counties, however, private agencies under contract with the State of Tennessee pursue criminal misdemeanor contempt, which is limited by state law to a statute of one year (that issue is again being argued on appeal). Civil contempt is the way to go for several reasons, but most importantly: 1) You can question the defendant (no 5th amendment right to avoid self-incrimination), and 2) Proof by preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. Felony non-support, or flagrant non-support, in Tennessee is not usually pursued.

  3. Ron Rolfe

    If you read the statute, It also states clearly that the time-clock starts running on the date the offense occured. Hense in 1984 if you were ordered to pay child support, and you failed to pay the amount in the support order on the time stated that payment is due in the order, the 6year catch-all clock begins to run Immediately effective when you miss the first payment. To wait until 6 yrs after the childs 18th birthday would be ludicris. 6 years is plenty of time to come to some conclusion as to weather a contempt of a court order exist.. So with that being said, If the defendant in a case was ordered to pay child support in February of 1984 and failed to make the first payment as so ordered, applying the statute of limitations would give the prosecutor in the case until February of 1990 to prosecute the case under the existing law. If the limitation of time expires, then the case would automatically be time barred and the defendant can motion for the case dismissal.

  4. Ron Rolfe

    Like to say also, Friend of the Court acts accordinally because it is profitable for them to do so. The family courts do not intervene in troubled family cases to protect our children as the claim has been made. The courts benefit from taking a troubled family where children are involved, and creating what is called the “non-custodial parent”. Most judges cannot phathom granting both parents equal joint custody because it would limit the revenue that can be generated to fund its institution. Instead, its much more profitable to give physical custody to one parent, and enforce actions onto the other. The law by design is frivolous. Most cases, mom & dad were both considered suitable parents with equal rights to the raising of thier children up until there was a marital breakdown. Immediately, one of the two parties files for divorce, and the case winds up in front of a judge that ultimately decides the fate and outcome of what will eventually become the triggering factor of the less fortunate prevailing party “or” the now created “Non Custodial Parent”. The Custodial parent becomes the moving party to numerous events that will take effect sometime thereafter. The prosecutor has to have a witness in order to pursue future actions against the parent that is ordered to pay support, This carefully laid out plan was developed to enforce the now “Criminalized Defendant” into complying with the courts judgement. FOC policy violates human rights, and subjects innocent mothers/fathers that were once thought to be law abiding citizens into becoming manufactured criminals. Take for example the so called “Deadbeat Dad” syndrome that is a dirivative of the “Non Custodial Parent”. Innocent mothers/fathers are purposely being slandered by the lawmakers and enforcers in an attempt to justify this common practice. Not all parents that become defendants can afford two households. Most defendants are ordered to pay an amount that far exceeds his/her ability to pay. The courts, prosecutors, and custodial parents are not concerned about the well being of the dis-advantaged party. Instead they are fixated on enforcing the defendant to pay the amount as ordered, in the time stated. The minute you get behind, arrearages begin to compile. Now you have given the prosecutor and you’re exwife the tools they need to make the claim that you are a ‘Deadbeat”. Friend of the Court will intimidate you once you enter thier system into becoming a cooperative criminal. You will be arrested, incarcerated, and subjected to unsanitary confinement in an effort to force compliance. Several of you will be misrepresented by the court appointed legal counsel that the court will provide to you if you cannot afford to hire you’re own attorney. Most of you will not even know you’re rights. The prosecutor will hide whatever facts that might prove you’re innocence. Payments will turn up missing or not ever be applied to you’re account. Legal documents will be filed without your knowledge/understanding of elements within to prevent you’re objection. False witness’s and testimony will be used against you to thwart the outcome, or keep you at bay. Legal Defense’s and testimony you give will be stricken down by the judge, and instructions given to the jury if you are prosecuted to also emphasize on the outcome. The only way to get any true justice, is to take the time to study the law. Become you’re own advocate and familiarize yourself with judicial ethics of the people that seek to destroy you.
    Goodluck to anyone who has been victimized!!! Know that there is somebody out there fighting to change this practice..

    Ron

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.