“The Stanaway Motion: When Criminal Defendant Fights Back”

For those that practice criminal law, our profession has taken a new turn.  Allegations from decades ago are showing up at the courthouse steps as the media is encouraging people to bring claims that would be deemed stale under normal circumstances. With that stated, the lack of physical evidence or eye witness testimony seems to be an issue that has been overlooked in recent prosecutions. One way to fight the subject of a frivolous prosecution is “The Stanaway Motion.”

While most lawyers in the field are not even familiar with this seldom used motion, the presence of the Stanaway case has provided a lot of power to the aggressive criminal defense attorney. People v. Stanaway, 446 Mich. 643 (1994).

The Stanaway case presents the question of whether, and under what circumstances, records of a psychologist, a sexual assault counselor, a social worker, or a juvenile diversion officer regarding a witness should be discoverable by the accused in a criminal trial. This means medical records of one that was a minor at the time of the allegation can potentially come into admissibility with a successful Stanaway motion. This presents an issue that can sway a judge and jury upon reviewing the psychological makeup of the complaining witness.

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is known as the top criminal defense lawyer in Washtenaw County.  Amadeo has won many cases and received beneficial plea deals with criminal defendants with strong “Stanaway Motions.”

When asked about the Stanaway motion, Amadeo stated, “The Stanway is a motion that most criminal defense lawyers are not aware of.  The motion, when crafted properly, allows the criminal defense attorney to overcome the medical privilege. This is a motion that will allow the defense counsel to explore evidence to preserve the freedom of their client. The Stanaway will also preserve an issue for appeal should your judge rule against it.  The motion provides a lot of beneficial aspects of criminal defense.

Matthew McManus is the Founding Member of Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  McManus added, “The statute of limitations for Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) in the state of Michigan is ten years, but that is not where the story ends. If we have a minor and there was the allegation of penetration, there is no timeframe to address. Mich. Comp. Laws § 767.24(1)(a), (3)(a)

This means that if someone is 30 years of age but claims that they were raped as a minor and the allegation occurred 15 years ago, there could still be a prosecution. What is terrifying about that is the psychological makeup of the complaining witness could be why the claim is brought. A well-written Stanaway Motion gives the criminal defense attorney a tool to protect the rights of their client.

Jennifer Kelley is an Associate Attorney for McManus and Amadeo and has a strong reputation in the family law community. When asked about the Stanaway, Kelley stated, “Whether it is criminal law or child custody issues, false allegations are on the rise. I highly recommend the innocent defendant to bring civil litigation in the form of defamation when this occurs.  The Stanaway motion is the first step towards constitutional protection and financial recourse.”

While the motion does not have the fame of many of its counterparts, the crafting of a strong “Stanaway Motion” could provide an aggressive defense for the client that is facing incarceration as it presents the possibility of a false allegation. A strong “Stanaway Motion” can be the difference between a criminal defendant facing a lifetime in the Michigan Department of Corrections or breathing free air.

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