Recently in Arrest, Warrants, Arraignment Category

Felony Charges for Resisting or Obstructing and/or Fleeing and Eluding

February 5, 2013,

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Far too often when we are retained for a criminal case, domestic violence, assault crime or drunk driving, a client is also charged with one of the following Michigan felony cases:

These crimes consistently are listed in the top 50 felony cases in Michigan.

Even a simple traffic stop, retail fraud or possession of marijuana offense can lead to egregious consequences when someone attempts to escape or engage in a struggle with the police. Unfortunately, the police may charge a person with resisting or obstruction when they misread the conduct of a person. This is sometimes the case when a person makes abrupt physical movements during an arrest which are interpreted as obstructive or assaultive conduct.

The State of Michigan classifies all resisting or obstruction and fleeing and eluding crimes as felonies! The penalties for conduct which qualifies as resisting, obstructing, assaulting, fleeing or eluding the police are classified according to seriousness of the crime. The seriousness of the crime will depend upon whether an injury or death has occurred.

Maximum Michigan Criminal Penalties for Resisting and Obstructing

  • No injury or death: 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.
  • Bodily injury requiring medical attention or care: 4 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.
  • Serious impairment of a body function: 10 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both.
  • Causes the death of an individual: 20 years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00, or both.

Maximum Michigan Criminal Penalties for Fleeing and Eluding

In addition to suspension or revocation of the driver license of a person convicted of fleeing and eluding, the following criminal penalties apply:

  • Fourth Degree: No injury or death: 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.
  • Third Degree: 5 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both, if 1 or more of the following circumstances apply:
  • the violation results in a collision or accident, the violation occurred in an area where the speed limit is 35 miles an hour or less or the individual has a prior conviction for 4th degree fleeing and eluding, including attempt.
  • Second Degree: 10 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both, if 1 or more of the following circumstances apply: the violation results in serious impairment of a body function, or the individual has 1 or more prior convictions for 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree fleeing and eluding, including attempt.
  • First Degree: If the violation results in the death of another individual, 15 years or a fine of not more than $15,000.00, or both.

How to Respond when Confronted By the Police

When the police respond to a 9-1-1 call, pull over a motor vehicle or are acting upon a warrant for an arrest, they are placed in a potentially risky situation. The immediate goal of law enforcement officers is to secure the location by identifying parties that pose a threat or need to be isolated until witness statements can be obtained. The police are not involved in the "guilt or innocence" aspects of the case at this junction. For this reason, if you are confronted by the police, try to remain calm to avoid misunderstandings and confusion that could be construed as obstructive. As criminal defense lawyers, we have found that rational, polite, cooperative conduct can act in favor of someone facing criminal charges. By cooperation, I do not mean that you should "spill the beans". Keep in mind that aside from providing identification, a person does not have to make any statements and has an absolute right to remain silent. You Tube Video Link: Don't Talk to the Police. It is the job of a criminal defense lawyer to obtain the police reports, do an investigation and prepare a defense strategy for a client charged with a crime such as fleeing, eluding, resisting or obstructing.

What Factors Do Attorneys Consider When Defending Someone Charged With Resisting, Obstructing, Fleeing and Eluding?

When a client is charged with resisting or obstruction and/or fleeing and eluding, our first concern is whether anyone was injured. Assuming an injury did not occur, negotiations can usually go smoothly and our goal is to resolve the case by avoiding a felony conviction. Negotiations are much more complex when a law enforcement officer or our client sustains an injury. When a client is injured, he or she may be contemplating a civil lawsuit against the police or filing an internal complaint with the police department. Civil litigation will invariably lead the government to avoid plea bargaining as it will aggressively attempt to protect itself from damages and protect the integrity of the law enforcement agency involved. Since these scenarios will usually thwart any attempt to seek an amicable resolution of the case, the advice of a skilled criminal defense lawyer and a personal injury lawyer are crucial!

Everything You Want to Know About Pretrial Conferences in Macomb County

December 7, 2012,

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This year, we have published several blogs dedicated to "frequently asked (criminal law) questions". Whenever possible, we endeavor to avoid legalese by providing articles in layman's terms. The focus of this blog is pretrial conferences in Macomb County District Courts.

What is a pretrial conference?

A pretrial conference is a meeting that is attended by the attorneys for the parties in a criminal or civil case. The major purposes of a pretrial conference are to facilitate resolution of a case, management of a case for trial or management of a case regarding pertinent issues (as listed below). A pretrial conference is scheduled after either a criminal or civil case is filed with the court, a case number and a Judge are assigned. In Macomb County, criminal pretrial conferences are held soon after the arraignment. For misdemeanors, which occur in Macomb County, the pretrial conference will always be held at the district court (click here for complete listing of links to Macomb County District Courts). Felony pretrial conferences can occur on the date scheduled for a preliminary examination and again after the case is bound over to the circuit court. A person charged with a crime (the defendant) is required to be present on the date scheduled for pretrial conference. However, he or she is usually not allowed in the conference room with the attorneys. On the other hand, police officers and victim's rights advocates with court business are allowed in the conference room. Likewise, an alleged victim may be present at the pretrial conference as the prosecutor must obtain the victim's consent for a plea bargain in most criminal cases.

The direction of a criminal case is often determined after a pretrial conference. Pretrial conferences are a vital tool, which a skilled criminal defense lawyer will utilize for several reasons:

  • Promote dismissal of the charge(s) under certain circumstances
  • Negotiate a favorable plea bargain
  • Address bond, bond conditions and/or release from jail
  • Adjourn the pretrial conference to seek a deviation when strict policy obstructs a plea bargain
  • Request modification of no-contact order (domestic violence cases)
  • Negotiate restitution when financial losses are claimed
  • Meet with the Judge when judicial support is needed to discuss various matters, such as sentence bargains, creative plea bargains or to simplify issues of the case when set for trial
  • Size up the prosecution's case, witnesses and evidence
  • Request copies of discovery (police reports, videos, chemical test results)
  • Schedule one or more motion dates to attack the evidence, or to weaken the case
  • Set future pretrial conference date(s) when delay can tend to improve the defense position
  • Schedule the case for a bench or jury trial

Factoid: A person who is accused of a crime is not considered a "defendant" until that person is formally charged with a crime. Our criminal defense lawyers never refer to our clients as "defendants" when speaking to the court or prosecutor because of negative connotations. We prefer to refer to our clients by their given name or "the accused".

What is the attorney's role at a pretrial conference?

The best way for me to summarize an attorney's role at a pretrial conference is by mentioning a few passages from the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.

A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system.

As negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealing with others.

What is the defendant's role at a pretrial conference?

Macomb County (as well as Oakland, Wayne and St.Clair), require the attendance of the defendant at the pretrial conference. If the defendant "fails to appear", an arrest warrant may be issued. Prior to the pretrial conference, our criminal defense attorneys discuss goals and/or strategies with our clients. Even though the defendant is not present in the conference room, he or she is well informed of our intentions. We advise our clients to be punctual, dress appropriately and to refrain from discussing their case with anyone at the courthouse. We assume that our client's conduct is "being monitored". Therefore, we discourage any interaction with the victim or any conduct which draws unfavorable attention. Any progress towards working out a deal can be blown if a client offends certain key decision makers at the pretrial conference or at any other time while a criminal case is pending!

Is there an appearance in the courtroom after the pretrial conference?

After the pretrial conference, the defendant and his or her attorney will appear in open court and inform the Judge of the results. The Judge has the final say regarding the outcome of a pretrial conference. For example, certain plea bargains may be against the Judge's own policy and may require some persuasion and legal authority. In addition, the Judge may show frustration when the parties are attempting to adjourn (delay) cases. Since adjournments tend to clog court dockets, the Judge will require that "good cause" be shown.

Our experience is that a pretrial conference is an invaluable opportunity to advocate on behalf of our clients. Advocacy includes elements of assertiveness and diplomacy. We often can achieve a disposition after the pretrial conference. This may result in a plea bargain, which may have the effect of dismissing the criminal charges in exchange for completion of probation. It is our job to protect our client's rights and seek the best possible outcome, which may mean saving a client from being exposed to egregious facts and the expenses of an unnecessary trial. The defendant remains the ultimate decision-maker when presented with options after the conclusion of a pretrial conference.

Some other important things to know about pretrial conferences:

-Denial of a pretrial conference may constitute a denial of "due process" rights. US vs. Ataya, 864 F2d 1324 (1988)
-No admissions made by the defendant's lawyer in the setting of a pretrial conference are admissible against the defendant during trial.
-Pretrial Conferences for federal criminal cases are governed by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17.1

The addresses and phone numbers for all Macomb County district courts can be found at the following links:


Warren
37th District Court

Eastpointe
38th District Court


Roseville and Fraser
39th District Court

St. Clair Shores
40th District Court

Sterling Heights
41-A District Court

Shelby, Utica and Macomb Township
41-A District Court

Clinton Township, Mt. Clemens, Harrison Township
41-B District Court

Romeo, Washington Township, Armada, Bruce Township, Ray Township, Richmond, Memphis
42-1 District Court

New Baltimore, Chesterfield Township, Lenox Township, New Haven
42-2 District Court


Frequently Asked Question: What should I do if there is a warrant for my arrest?

November 20, 2012,

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This is another segment in a series of blogs which is dedicated to provide answers to frequently asked legal questions related to criminal law. If you are charged with a crime (felony or misdemeanor) you may be arrested on an outstanding warrant or receive a notice from the court or police directing you to personally surrender yourself to the police or to appear at court.

Our Macomb County criminal defense lawyers get asked this question all the time: What should I do if there is a warrant for my arrest?

A criminal arrest warrant is a written court order directing for the arrest and detention of a person. If you have received notice or have knowledge that there is a warrant for your arrest, it is just a matter of time before you will be arrested. When a warrant is issued (signed by the judge), the court may send a notice to the party (criminal defendant) for a hearing (arraignment) to address the issue of bond or detention of the defendant while a criminal case is pending. If someone receives a notice (from the court or police) regarding the existence of a warrant or has other knowledge of an active warrant, an attorney should be retained immediately to arrange a court date and have the warrant cancelled and bond determined. This is the best case scenario to resolve a warrant.

What if I am arrested on a warrant before I can call my lawyer?

If you are arrested based upon a warrant, you will not have the luxury of walking into a courtroom with a lawyer to answer the warrant. However, you can make matters worse by resisting the police or acting disorderly. Any resistance to the warrant may lead to additional criminal charges such as resisting and obstructing or fleeing and eluding. Our criminal defense attorneys give clients the following advice regarding possible arrest and dealing with law enforcement officers when faced with an arrest warrant:

NOTICE TO OUR CLIENTS:
In most cases, our law office will be notified or you will receive a notice if a warrant is issued against you. However, if you are arrested, please remain calm and cooperative with the police. Do not resist the police or act disorderly as this will only make matters worse and will lead to other criminal charges (resisting and obstructing). Our office advises that you to refrain from making any verbal or written statements to the police pursuant to your absolute right to remain silent. However, you should be prepared to provide identification. Following your arrest, you will be booked by the police and detained until your arraignment. Please have a family member contact our office if you are arrested and in all likelihood, we will visit you at jail and have an attorney present in the courtroom at the time of your arraignment. If you are brought before the court before you or a family member can contact our office, enter a plea of NOT GUILTY or STAND MUTE and let the judge know that you have retained a lawyer.

When should I hire a lawyer?

In some cases, you may not know about a criminal investigation that will lead to an arrest warrant. In most cases, the police will contact you during a criminal investigation in an attempt to get a confession or written statement. You should refrain from making any statements to the police. If you are contacted by the police, get the detective's or police officer's name and phone number. You should hire an attorney as soon as you have knowledge that there is a criminal investigation or if you believe that you have committed a crime and will be arrested. An attorney can contact the detective in charge of your case and ask to be notified when the warrant is issued. An attorney can also try to get some facts from the detective, and advance a defense strategy on behalf of the suspected party. In addition, an attorney can advise the detective that a client will not be making any statements and also address other pressing legal issues such as cooperation.

Link: Searches with warrants