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A Better Partnership
December 28, 2012

COA Opinion: Circuit court committed error by amending felony information after statutory period, but not plain error

In People v Siterlet, the Michigan Court of Appeals held the trial court erred by amending the defendant's felony information after the twenty-one-day period permitted in MCL 769.13(1) and after trial. But because the error was unpreserved and not plain, the court affirmed the defendant's conviction and sentence.

Prior to trial, the felony information charged the defendant with operating a vehicle while visibly impaired as a third habitual offender. The defendant was convicted on that charge. Following trial but before sentencing, the prosecution amended the information to charge the defendant as a fourth habitual offender. It was clear that the defendant was a fourth habitual offender. While it was error for the circuit court to permit the amendment, the Court determined it was not plain error because of the lack of clear legal precedent regarding the question. Furthermore, given the circumstances, the conviction also did not seriously affect the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings, and so the Court declined to exercise its discretion to reverse regardless of whether the error was plain.

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