October 2011 Archives

Driver License Appeal - The Risks of Going Unrepresented

October 5, 2011,

bus.jpgAlmost every week a very familiar scenario plays out in our office. A client will come in, sit down for a consultation, and discuss with us the facts of his or her license revocation history. Many times it will be the instinct of one of our Firm's attorneys that the client had a winnable case. However, the catch is that they didn't win, and in many instances have created a mess for themselves that will take years, literally years, to unravel. Why didn't this client win?

Oftentimes it is because they appealed their license revocation unrepresented, assuming that it was a simple and straightforward procedure. Further, it is often assumed that the hearing officers will summarily rubber stamp petitioners with a license after they wait their year. This is very much not the case. License appeals are substantively and administratively complex, and oftentimes become unmanageable for people who do not retain the assistance of an attorney. The stakes are high, losing an appeal typically results in an additional year revocation. Moreover, any inconsistencies stated in an initial hearing will come back to haunt the petitioner in future hearings. Losing a DLAD appeal means that the petitioner will have to continue asking friends and family for rides, or risk breaking the law and driving without a license. Beneath are some common mistakes that petitioners make when appealing their revocations without the assistance of counsel.

Procedural Mistakes

The DLAD has strict procedural guidelines for filing these appeals. Often unrepresented petitioners will miss deadlines, file the wrong documents, or fill out documents/background letters incorrectly. When you have a case with strong facts (IE over one year of demonstrated sobriety) it is a waste to wait an additional year because of a procedural mistake.

Substantive Mistakes

Without counsel, petitioners will often make substantive mistakes. Most commonly, petitioners who have not met the one year of mandatory sobriety will disclose that they have consumed alcohol in the last 12 months. We always counsel clients to wait that year, and will assist them in finding programs and counselors to assist them with their sobriety. Further, unrepresented petitioners tend to get nervous, and put inconsistencies on the record because they buckle under the pressure. A first hearing is intimidating, and that pressure can often cause a petitioner to lose his or her cool, become mentally unorganized, and forget vital dates - thus making a winnable case a loser.

Our Program for Getting You Back On the Road

Our law firm has a comprehensive program for getting petitioners back on the road. From our initial consultation we look at all the facts and organize them to avoid both procedural and substantive mistakes. Our firm has appeared on hundreds of license appeals and has a streamlined process for gathering and filing the documents, thus eliminating confusion on behalf of the client. Further, in our representation we include a mock hearing where you and one of the Abdo Law attorneys will go through the questions that will be asked at the hearing. The goal is to reduce anxiety and eliminate as much as possible the element of surprise in the hearing room.

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Michigan's New Expungement Law Available to Persons with Prior Minor Offenses

October 3, 2011,

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In the past, a person could seek an expungement in Michigan provided there was only a single criminal conviction on the person's criminal record.

Under the new law, a person may file for an expungement, of a criminal conviction even though the person has a prior criminal record consisting of not more than two (2) other convictions for "minor offenses". A minor offense is classified as an offense which occurs before a person's 22nd birthday with a maximum penalty of not more than 90 days in jail and a fine that does not exceed $1,000.00. This means that prior offenses such as assault and battery, simple larceny, driving while suspended, leaving the scene of an accident, disorderly conduct and other minor offenses will not preclude an expungement of an eligible conviction.

Our firm believes that this new law will open up the floodgates and make expungements possible for housands of persons who were not otherwise eligible under Michigan's prior expungement law. An attorney will need to review the criminal history of the person seeking expungement to verify that any prior offenses qualify as "minor offenses" within the meaning of Michigan's expungement statute or risk denial of the expungement.

Michigan has rigid requirements for person's seeking expungements which include preparation of formal legal documents, criminal history search, a time-table for filing documents, legal notices to proper parties and a court hearing. The notice requirements for expungements necessitate service of documents upon the Michigan Attorney General, Michigan State Police, prosecuting attorney and the victim of the underlying criminal offense. Venue for expungements in Michigan is in the district or circuit court where the offense occurred.

Other important aspects of Michigan Expungements:

-The following offenses cannot be expunged: felony punishable by life in prison, traffic offenses and criminal sexual conduct convictions

-5 years must have elapsed since the date of sentence or release from prison for the offense which is being expunged.

As Macomb County criminal defense lawyers, we have provided legal representation for eligible clients seeking expungement in many Michigan district and circuit courts. Pursuant to Michigan's new expungement law, prior minor offenses (before age 22) will no longer preclude a person from filing an application for an expungement. We believe this to be a step in the right direction for persons who have been burdened by an old criminal record but have made positive changes and deserve a fresh start in
life.

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