Recently in Assault Crime Category

How Am I Being Charged With Domestic Violence / Assault When I Acted In Self-Defense?

January 31, 2013,

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Oftentimes clients call confused as to why they are being charged with an assaultive crime (assault and battery, domestic violence, etc.) when they believed that they were acting in self-defense. The police have to respond to allegations of violence, and where somebody alleges that they were attacked that will generally be sufficient to get a case brought into court. Sometimes one party will be charged (often the case) and other times both will.

Self-defense is one of the most common defenses in criminal law, and where the defense is successfully put forth it negates a crime of violence. Where we can show that our client acted in self-defense, the prosecution then faces a greater burden at trial. The prosecution must then show beyond a reasonable doubt that the assaultive crime occurred and moreover show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant didn't act in self-defense. The following elements must be shown in order to establish a valid self-defense claim.

1) The defendant must have truthfully believed that the aggressor was going to use physical force against him, her, or a third person. So long as non-lethal force was applied the defendant need not have believed the aggressor was using deadly force.
2) Objectively, the belief of an imminent attack on the defendant must be reasonable. This means that neutrally looking at the defendant's actions his or her belief that force was going to be used was a rational belief.
3)
The defendant honestly thought the amount of force used was appropriate.
4) Objectively, somebody would find that the defendant used an appropriate amount of force.

This is a pretty classic objective/subjective test - meaning that it must be shown the defendant thought his or her actions were reasonable and further that they were objectively reasonable. If the above elements are shown, self-defense is established, and the defendant is not guilty of the assault crime. Nonetheless, if prosecution shows the following, a self-defense case will fail.

1) That the belief of force or force used by the defendant was unreasonable.
2) That the defendant was the initial aggressor.
3) There was an agreement by both parties to enter into a fight.
4) If more force than necessary was used by the defendant to subdue the initial aggressor.

The following are factors that our office will evaluate in building a self defense case;

1) The relative size of the aggressor to the victim;
2) If the aggressor has a history of violence;
3) Any military or martial arts training;
4) The presence/threat of a weapon;
5) Whether there were multiple aggressors;
6) Social media activity including taunts/threats;
7) And/or prior threats by the aggressor.

Practically speaking what does this mean? The defendant must not have started the fight, must have honestly thought he or she was about to be attacked, and used only enough force to protect him or herself. Oftentimes people being charged with assault DO have valid self-defense claims. If you are being charged with such a crime you would be wise to contact an attorney to discuss the circumstances of your case and evaluate the merits of a possible self-defense claim.

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


We continue to provide public information to our readers - The Top 50 Most Frequently Charged Felonies in Michigan

November 13, 2012,

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The Michigan Bar Association releases crime data for the state from time to time. While researching cases, we came across an informative article written by the Michigan Bar Association regarding the most frequently charged felonies in the State of Michigan. This article can be viewed here: Top 50 Felonies Most Frequently Charged in Michigan. Based upon our experience, I would agree: this list is an accurate representation of the types of cases that our Macomb County criminal defense firm handles on a frequent basis.

Listed below is a selection of the top felonies charged in Michigan:
Possession of a Controlled Substance (heroin, cocaine, analogues)
• Possession of Marijuana (double penalty for second offense)
• Possession of methamphetamine (MDMA)
Possession with intent to deliver less than 50 grams (cocaine, narcotic)
• Possession of an Analogue controlled substance (pills)
• Possession with intent to deliver marijuana
• Manufacturer or delivery of less than 5 kilograms of marijuana
Drunk driving - 3rd offense
• Assault with Dangerous/Deadly Weapon ("Felonious Assault")
Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm
• Resist/Obstruct a Police Officer & fleeing and eluding
Criminal Sexual Conduct - 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Degree
• Keeping or Maintaining Drug House
Home Invasion
• Retail Fraud 1st Degree (Retail Fraud 2nd and 3rd Degree are misdemeanors)
• Larceny in a Building, Larceny from a Vehicle

Sometimes, the amount of loss will determine whether an offense is classified as a felony. Offenses, such as embezzlement and malicious destruction of property, are also on the list of top felonies when the value is $1,000.00 or greater. If the value of stolen property was less than $1,000.00, the offense would qualify as a misdemeanor.

Pursuant to the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, felonies are further broken down into categories that determine the accompanying sentence. Punishment for each class is listed below:
• Class A - Life imprisonment
• Class B - Up to 20 years in prison
• Class C - Up to 15 years in prison
• Class D - Up to 10 years in prison
• Class E - Up to 5 years in prison
• Class F - Up to 4 years in prison
• Class G - Up to 2 years in prison
• Class H - Jail or other intermediate sanctions, such as fines

Note: A future blog will be dedicated to the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines.

Below, you will find connections to some of our blogs that are pertinent to felony cases:

All Felony-related Posts

Drug Possession

Felony Assault - Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Fleeing, Eluding and Obstructing the Police

First Degree Retail Fraud and Larceny

Third Drunk Driving Conviction

Child Abuse and Neglect

Felony Marijuana Possession

Continue reading "We continue to provide public information to our readers - The Top 50 Most Frequently Charged Felonies in Michigan" »

Can I be charged with a crime if only one person says I did it and there are no other witnesses or evidence (commonly called "he said/she said" cases)?

September 11, 2012,

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Can I be charged with a crime if only one person says I did it and there are no other witnesses or evidence (commonly called "he said/she said" cases)?

Answer: YES.

This is a question that we are frequently asked in cases involving relationships such as spouses, lovers, family members etc... These cases usually involve domestic violence, assault crimes, stalking, sex crimes or other personal crimes. The prosecutor may opt to charge a person with the alleged crime even though the suspect denies the allegations, there are no other witnesses and there is a complete lack of any other evidence (no injuries, no video, no confession).

Evidence Traps in He Said/She Said cases

The police agency assigned to cases such as this are often aggressive and will attempt to try and gain a confession from the accused to strengthen the case for prosecution. Sometimes in "he said/she said" cases, the alleged victim will call the suspect on the telephone with a script of loaded questions. A recording of the conversation can be used as evidence unless it is obtained illegally (Michigan Law-recording conversations). The phone call may be initiated with police encouragement before the suspect has knowledge that a police report has been filed!

As an active criminal defense lawyer in Macomb County, our firm has represented 1000's of clients charged with crimes. Sometimes, the only evidence is the statement by an angry party in a tumultuous relationship who is seeking attention, revenge or retaliation. Far too often, the police attempt to get the suspect to talk for the purpose of proving facts surrounding the alleged incident such as alcohol consumption or an argument. Remember, the police rarely call someone unless a police report alleging a crime is filed. For this reason, you should retain a lawyer if you are suspected or charged with a crime and refrain from talking to the police.

Links to some other frequently asked questions:

Can my case be dismissed if I wasn't advised of my Miranda rights?

Am I entitled to make a phone call if I am arrested?

Can I be charged with a crime if only one person says I did it and there are no other witnesses or evidence?

Do court appointed lawyers work for the police and prosecutor?

Continue reading "Can I be charged with a crime if only one person says I did it and there are no other witnesses or evidence (commonly called "he said/she said" cases)?" »

Criminal and Traffic Jurisdiction of the 41-A District Court, Sterling Heights, Michigan

August 28, 2012,


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This is one of many blogs that our law firm has posted about the Courts where our criminal defense attorneys frequently practice in Macomb County. This is an informational public service blog about the 41-A District Court.

The 41-A District Court in Sterling Heights has jurisdiction from 14 Mile Road to M-59 and from Dequindre to Hayes. This geographical area of approximately 36 square miles contains several major Macomb County thoroughfares such as Hayes, Schoenherr, Van Dyke, Mound and Dequindre. Within Sterling Heights, you will find major shopping centers, the Lakeside Mall, major automotive factories and established residential areas. According to the 2010 US census, the city of Sterling Heights boasts a population of 129,699 and is the second largest suburb in the Metro Detroit area. For these reasons, there are three (3) judges that are needed to administer justice for the City of Sterling Heights. (GOOGLE MAP, CITY OF STERLING HEIGHTS)

The 41-A District Court has jurisdiction to handle non-criminal traffic tickets (civil infractions), criminal matters such as misdemeanors, drunk driving (OWI) and criminal traffic violations. Here is a partial list of offenses which fall under these offense classifications:

Civil Infractions: Speeding, Fail to Obey Traffic Device, Improper Turn, Careless Driving

Criminal Traffic: Drive While Suspended (DWLS), Reckless Driving, Leave Scene of Accident, Fail to Merge for Emergency Response Vehicle

Drunk Driving: Zero Tolerance, Operating While Intoxicated (DUI, OWI), Super Drunk (OWI With a High BAC over .17%)

Misdemeanors: Retail Fraud, Domestic Violence, Disorderly Conduct, MIP, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Paraphernalia, Malicious Destruction of Property (MDOP), Larceny under $200.00

Criminal Felonies: The district court handles the initial stages of a felony which include issuance of the complaint and warrant, arraignment, bond hearings and preliminary examination. Some arraignments occur after the accused receives a letter and appears voluntarily. The court also utilizes video arraignments for persons that are in custody.

Criminal Warrant Letters: Do not panic if you receive a letter from the Sterling Heights Police directing you to surrender yourself because a criminal warrant has been issued. This would be the time to hire a lawyer if you have not already done so. Our firm has positive experience with scheduling these matters or getting the job done immediately or before a holiday weekend (we don't like to have warrants hanging over our heads over a long weekend). Ordinarily, we can get the warrant, booking, arraignment and bond addressed without any entanglements.

Legal Objectives: Civil Infractions (Traffic Tickets)
As we have mentioned in our other blogs; if you are found guilty of a civil infraction, the offense will appear on your driving record and you will receive point. The Michigan point system is used to determine high risk drivers which can result in license suspension after a person accumulates 12 or more points. In addition, points are used by insurance companies to rate drivers and raise insurance premiums. Do you think insurance companies find it in their best interest to know when a customer has a new ticket? When handling civil infractions, we attempt to reduce or avoid both points and any offense appearing on a client's record.

Legal Objectives: Criminal Cases (Misdemeanors)
If you are found guilty of a criminal offense, it will stay on your permanent criminal record. Our goal is to avoid convictions or to obtain dismissals under special provisions of Michigan laws. While nobody can insure or guarantee that a criminal record will completely disappear after the case is concluded, we will aggressively seek the best case scenario by employing delayed sentence dispositions which result in dismissals for offenses like retail fraud, HYTA for youthful offenders (age 17 but under age 21) and statutory first offender deals such as MCL 333.7411 for drug crimes and MCL 769.4a for domestic violence. Since our firm practices extensively in the 41-A District Court (Sterling Heights and the location in Shelby Township), I can say that the Judges are very receptive to outcomes which are consistent with our objectives based upon several years of experience in this jurisdiction.

The Court also has limited jurisdiction over the initial stages of felony cases which include: authorization of criminal charges, issuance of warrant, arraignment (bond) and preliminary examination. However, felony cases are ultimately resolved in the Circuit Court unless reduced to a misdemeanor in the District Court.

The 41-A District Court is located at 40111 Dodge Park, Sterling Heights, Michigan 48313, Phone: 586-446-2500. The Presiding Judges for the 41-A District Court are Judge Michael S. Maceroni, Judge Stephen S. Sierawski and Judge Kimberley A. Wiegand.


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37th District Court Of Macomb County; Jurisdiction Covers the Cities of Warren and Centerline

July 25, 2012,

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Many of our blogs explore criminal and drunk driving issues within the realm of our law firm's expertise. Others are about the Courts where we frequently practice law. This blog is about the 37th District Court where we regularly provide legal services to our clients who are charged with traffic offenses, criminal (felony or misdemeanor) and OWI cases arising out of Warren and Centerline.

The 37th District Court has two locations which are located in the cities of Centerline and Warren. (MAP OF WARREN) The jurisdictional boundaries of these Courts covers 36 square (from 8 Mile Road to 14 Mile Road and from Hayes to Dequindre). South of 8 Mile Road is the City of Detroit and West of Dequindre is the County of Oakland. Within the boundaries of the 37th District Court are major Macomb County roads, the I-696 expressway, industrial centers, General Motors Tech Center, Automobile Dealers, over 100 restaurants and retail establishments.

The Warren Police Department (WPD) is located directly behind the 37th District Court. The WPD is one of the most active law enforcement agencies in Macomb County with a major detective bureau, air force (helicopter) motorcycle and traffic patrol squad. The detective bureau has a drug enforcement team as well as other units which engage in various undercover operations including cracking down on prostitution. The Michigan State Police also have a presence in Warren as the law enforcement entity responsible for patrolling I-696 expressway.

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and/or felony crime in the 37th District Court including drunk driving (OWI), drug crimes, disorderly conduct, prostitution, offer to engage or solicit sex from another, domestic assault, assault crimes, retail fraud, larceny, fraud, breaking and entering, child abuse, criminal sexual conduct, indecent exposure, malicious destruction of property, traffic violations, DWLS and probation violations.

As experienced criminal defense attorneys in Macomb County, I can say that the 37th District Court is a just and fair place to practice law. What I mean is that Judges are willing to listen to arguments and fairly dispose of criminal, drunk driving and traffic cases. I have found that the Judges are willing to give a criminal defense attorney some leeway when a case goes to trial or preliminary examination. In addition, most criminal cases handled by our firm are resolved without trial (90% or more are resolved by aggressive plea negotiations).

Criminal Cases in the 37th District Court

We set various goals when a client is charged with a criminal or drunk driving offense. Avoidance of a criminal conviction and jail are on the top of our list of goals. Some of our success stories include reducing a felony to a misdemeanor or having a case taken under advisement with a dismissal after a period of probation and compliance with the Court's conditions. We have utilized every special provision of law in the 37th District Court to obtain dismissals of retail fraud, domestic violence, possession of drugs/marijuana, MIP and many other criminal offenses. The Court will also consider petitions to have youthful offenders (age 17 but under age 21) placed on a special status where the public record will be sealed and the offense dismissed for eligible offenders.

Drunk Driving Cases in the 37th District Court

I have found the Judges in the 37th District Court to take some mercy on first offenders whether they are charged with a criminal offense or drunk driving (OWI). Drunk driving cases rarely get dismissed. However, by aggressively defending our clients, an OWI charge can often be reduced to a lesser offense which will save a client money, points and driver responsibility fees. I have represented two (2) clients in July 2012 who had BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) results of .17% or greater. In both cases, I was able to have the charges reduced to impaired driving. (A chemical test result of .17% or greater is known as a "Super Drunk" case and the policy is usually against any reduction in the charge).

Traffic Violations in the 37th District Court

When resolving a traffic matter in the 37th District Court, we are often able to have traffic tickets amended and avoid points. A traffic ticket can be reduced to a Michigan civil infraction known as "impeding traffic" which does not appear on a person's driving record and does not carry any points.

We take every precaution to know the strengths and weaknesses of our cases, set realistic goals and formulate strategies to achieve favorable results. In doing so, we will obtain discovery (police reports, videos, test results), witness statements and make recommendations to our clients for counseling whenever this is an appropriate course of action.

37th District Court Locations:

Warren: 8300 Common Road, Warren, MI 48093 Phone: 586-574-4910

Centerline: 7070 East 10 Mile Road, Centerline, MI 48015, Phone: 586-757-8333

37th District Court Presiding Judges:

John Chmura, Matthew Sabaugh, Jennifer Faunce, Dawn Gruenburg

Soon, Judge Dawn Gruenburg will be leaving the 37th District Court for a Federal Judicial Appointment. She will be dearly missed. Her replacement will be appointed by Governor Rick Snyder. Our firm has sent letters to Governor Snyder in favor of qualified candidates.


The Abdo Law Firm: Notable Cases And Results Part 1

July 24, 2012,

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The Abdo Law Firm, established more than 30 years ago, prides itself on personal service, professionalism, empathy, and most importantly RESULTS. The purpose of this blog is to share some notable success stories that our office has had since Matthew Abdo has joined the Firm. In all of our cases, hundreds a year, we fight to get charges reduced or dismissed and we always push to eliminate or minimize jail time. Though all of our cases are important to us, beneath are some where we feel we achieved exemplary outcomes.

Charge: Home Invasion 3rd Degree / Malicious Destruction of Property
Max. Jail: 5 years
Court: 41-A District, Shelby

In this instance, Cy was able to negotiate a resolution whereby the original charges were dismissed in lieu of a plea to Entering Without Permission. This is a notable result not only because a 5 year felony was reduced to a misdemeanor and the client did not have to serve any jail time, but because he will eligible to have this off his record after successful completion of probation.

Charge: Assault to do Great Bodily Harm Less Than Assault Less Than Murder
Max Jail: 10 years
Court: 37th District, Warren / Macomb County Circuit

Here, Matthew, through extensive negotiation, advocacy, and motion practice, got the original charge reduced to a Disorderly Conduct. Initially, the client was facing up to 10 years in prison. Ultimately, a plea was offered to a 90 day misdemeanor. After a 4 month period of non-reporting probation the matter was dismissed. The client did not serve any time in jail.

Charge: Placing Harmful Objects in Food
Max Jail: 10 years
Court: 41-A District, Shelby / Macomb County Circuit

This charge, where the client was looking at potentially 10 years of incarceration, was reduced to a 1 year misdemeanor. Furthermore, the client did not have to serve any time and is additionally eligible to have the conviction off his record after succession completion of a manageable term of probation.

Charge: Criminal Sexual Conduct 2nd Degree
Max Jail: 15 years
Court: 41-A Shelby (Utica)

The client in this matter was looking at serious jail time on a conviction of 2nd Degree CSC. Through extensive discussions this matter was dropped to a 1 year misdemeanor and concluded in District Court. At sentencing, the client did not receive any jail time. Further, Cy was able to petition the Court in order to allow the client, an out-of-state resident, to leave Michigan.

Charge: Vicious Dog, Animal at Large
Court: 38th District, Eastpointe

In this case the client's job was at stake with a conviction and so Matthew was presented with a must-win scenario. The Firm would not settle for anything less than a dismissal and appeared in court 5 times until a dismissal was ultimately granted.

Charge: Animal Abuse, Abandonment
Court: 72nd District, Port Huron

This was another case where the office felt anything short of a dismissal would not be an appropriate outcome considering the surrounding facts and circumstances. Through pretrial negotiation the charge was dismissed, preserving the client's clean record. No jail, probation, or fines were assessed.

Charge: Assault, Probation Violation
Court: 41-B District Court, Clinton Twp. and 40th District Court, St. Clair Shores


This legal matter is an example of how our office often takes on cases that have implications in multiple jurisdictions. Here, the client was serving a term of probation in St. Clair Shores and was subsequently charged with assault in Clinton Twp. The client was innocent and therefore would not take anything less than a total victory. A guilty verdict in Clinton Twp. would have violated the client's probation in St. Clair Shores and he very likely would have been looking at jail time. Matt fought the case up to the date of trial, and on that date it was dismissed. Subsequently the client's St. Clair Shore's probation violation was excused. No jail, probation, or fines were assessed.

Michigan Crime of Assault With A Deadly Weapon (FELONY ASSAULT); No Physical Contact or Injury Is Required

July 20, 2012,

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The offense of Assault with a Deadly Weapon (ADW), is also known as Felonious Assault in Michigan. ADW is felony which is punishable by up to 4 years in prison. ADW is a crime which involves an assault with a deadly weapon (such as a gun or knife) or any other instrumentality which is fashioned or used as a weapon (car, club, bottle) which is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death. A criminal charge or conviction does not require actual physical contact or an injury. The offense is considered complete upon placing another in fear of an assault by a person who possesses a deadly weapon. A person charged with ADW in Michigan may assert several defenses including: lack of intent or self- defense.

INTENT: The prosecutor must prove that a person had criminal "intent" to cause an injury or an intent to put the victim in reasonable fear of an immediate battery. Unfortunately, our criminal defense lawyers have seen many misunderstandings and over charged cases when a person is in possession of a weapon or object during a heated argument which is never intended to be used aggressively to harm anyone. This often is the case in domestic violence cases where a spouse or significant other is intoxicated and angry, has a knife or dangerous instrumentality and utilizes ambiguous words which are misconstrued in the charging process. I think the police are more apt to charge ADW to be on the safe side and avoid being accused of being lenient on domestic violence offenders. An aggressive criminal defense lawyer can often neutralize the situation by exposing weaknesses in the prosecutor's case.

DANGEROUS WEAPON: In addition to the element of "intent", ADW requires that the aggressor have a weapon or object which can inflict death or great bodily harm. A plethora of objects have been declared to be dangerous weapons in cases which involve ADW. A car, golf club, shoe boot, cane, ashtray or beer bottle have been construed to be dangerous weapons which may support a conviction of ADW.

ADW and assault crimes are closely associated with Domestic Violence cases which our firm handles extensively. As criminal defense lawyers in Macomb County, we have successfully defended ADW cases and have avoided felony convictions and jail for our clients. Avoidance of a felony conviction can occur by effective plea bargaining to have the felony charge of ADW reduced to a misdemeanor such as simple assault and battery. Every detail is important in the defense of an ADW case. The facts may indicate that a person was acting in self-defense or lacked the requisite intent. The prior assaultive history of the defendant and victim are also relevant. The mental health history of the parties may also come into play. This information may be utilized to resolve a case before trial even though the same evidence may not be admissible at trial because of relevancy, privilege or hearsay pursuant to the Michigan Rules of Evidence.


Continue reading "Michigan Crime of Assault With A Deadly Weapon (FELONY ASSAULT); No Physical Contact or Injury Is Required" »

The Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores, a Metro Detroit Landmark

May 26, 2012,

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The Nautical Mile is located on Jefferson between 9 Mile Road and 10 Mile Road in the City of St. Clair Shores. The Nautical Mile is a Michigan landmark which consists of numerous restaurants, marinas and boat dealers along a one mile stretch of land along the Lake St. Clair shoreline. It is a major Metro Detroit area attraction and is well known for nightlife, dining, water sports, boating or just cruising on Jefferson Avenue.

In 2010, Michigan claimed third place among the 50 states with total boat registrations boasting 812,066 boats and watercraft. Florida and Minnesota rank above Michigan while California trails Michigan in the total number of registrations. The marinas located in St. Clair Shores, along with other Macomb County Marinas located in Mt. Clemens, Harrison Township and New Baltimore, claim a major share of these registrations. The major marinas consist of Miller Marina, Jefferson Beach Marina and Emerald City Harbor.

The locally popular restaurants along the Nautical Mile (Brownies, Pat O'Brien's, The Beach Grill, Waves) offer excellent culinary options and popular night spots. This combined with the marina and boating activity are a recipe for a summer long party atmosphere.

Alcohol is a close cousin of the boating scene which can lead to numerous criminal offenses. Our firm has represented individuals charged with drunk driving (OWI), boating under the influence (BUI), assault crimes, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, public intoxication, MIP and domestic violence for various behavior on the waterfront. Whether on sea or shore, many of the confrontations with the police on the Nautical Mile are associated with alcohol consumption and/or drug use which can lead to misdemeanor or felony criminal violations.

The 40th District Court, located in St. Clair Shores, sees a fair share of cases associated with criminal activity along the Nautical Mile. I can say that the Judges of the 40th District Court are knowledgeable, proactive and reasonable when it comes to alcohol related crimes in their jurisdiction. Like other Judges in Macomb and Oakland County, the 40th District Court bench will give most first offenders a chance to dig out. The Judges in this Court are receptive to statutes which allow for deferrals and dismissals upon compliance. In this regard, our firm has negotiated and achieved special sentencing dispositions resulting in dismissals of drug crimes, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, MIP and other criminal offenses involving adults or youthful offenders pursuant to the Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA). Drunk driving cases are not so easily resolved but are often reduced to a lower offense which does not result in loss of license or jail time if handled properly. Clients facing a repeat criminal offense, violent crime, narcotic crime or property destruction will need a serious defense strategy.

A person who commits an alcohol related crime can expect probation along with random alcohol testing to insure compliance. The 40th District Court has its own probation department and I can say that they will set up a probation violation hearing upon notice of non-compliance or an alcohol/drug test failure. The 40th District Court is located on the corner of 11 Mile Road and Jefferson: 27701 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 48081; Honorable Mark A. Fratarcangeli and Honorable Joseph Craigen Oster presiding, Phone: 586-445-5280, criminal extension #3.

Continue reading "The Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores, a Metro Detroit Landmark" »

Addressing Special Concerns of Selfridge Air National Guard Reserves and Personnel Charged With Criminal Offenses

April 26, 2012,

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Selfridge Air National Guard Base (SANG) is one of the oldest military air fields in the United States. It is located in the Township of Harrison, County of Macomb and is situated on prime Lake St. Clair property. Approximately 6000 air and army national guard, as well as civilian employees, are employed and/or housed at the SANG base. There are numerous units assigned to SANG including the 127th Wing (Michigan Air National Guard), customs and border protection and the Coast Guard.

There are many SANG military personnel who are married, live on or off base, and are residents of a state other than Michigan. Our attorneys have represented SANG military personnel for numerous legal matters including drinking offenses (drinking and driving), domestic violence, assault crimes, drug crimes and retail fraud (shoplifting). Anyone in the military who is charged with a criminal offense faces special circumstances which we are prepared to defend. We understand that when a military person (reserved or enlisted) gets into trouble, he or she faces possible rank demotion, loss of security clearance and/or dishonorable discharge from military service upon conviction for a criminal offense.

When a military person becomes a client of our firm, we are aware of their special needs and potential consequences. Certain convictions may be detrimental to a military career. There are other ramifications such as travel restrictions and possible incarceration. When a drinking a driving (DUI or OWI) is charged, the issue may be less compelling and only involve the driver license sanctions for a non-resident. Our job is to identify the needs of our military clients and address these particular needs and concerns. For example, a recent client who was charged with domestic violence needed permission to travel out of the state and the country. The case was resolved favorably whereby the case will be deferred and dismissed after a period of probation. The Judge also granted permission for our client to travel out of state and out of the county.

Upon being retained, we ask our military clients to obtain documentation and references which may include:

  • Civilian and Military Achievements, Medals, Deployments
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Counseling Report
  • Deployment Orders

Our goal is always to avoid a conviction or seek a result that will not jeopardize our client's future with the military. Our results include cases which are dismissed, reduced or dismissed after a period of advisement. Unfortunately, drinking and driving cases are rarely dismissed outright. However, we are usually able to have the charges reduced, avoid jail and obtain permission to travel upon transfer or deployment.

Our firm approaches criminal cases involving military personnel quietly, discreetly and with diplomacy. Fortunately, I have found the prosecutor's, law enforcement and the courts in Macomb County to be sensitive to those that are serving their country.

The Right to Act in Self Defense and Michigan's Stand Your Ground Law

April 16, 2012,

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Assaultive conduct or deadly force will be particularly scrutinized by law enforcement officers and prosecutors for possible criminal charges. Under certain circumstances, an act of assault may be excused or defended if the use of force was based upon justifiable self-defense. The following is a list of assault crimes in Michigan:

  • Assault and Battery
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon
  • Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm
  • Assault with Intent to Murder

A criminal defense attorney will also explore every minute detail which can be utilized to pursue a theory of self defense.

Self Defense Background, Duty to Retreat Except at Home

A person's right to act in self defense in the face of an assault or attack is a qualified right which has evolved with the times. Under prior laws, one had a duty to retreat when it was reasonably feasible to do so. The duty to retreat does not apply within one's home. Under the Castle Doctrine, a person has no duty to retreat (from an assault) and may defend himself (self defense) within his own home. This is based upon English Common Law which gives protected status to one's home under the theory that a man's home is his castle. The Supreme Court ruled in Beard vs. United States (158 U.S. 550 (1895)) that a man who was "on his premises" when he came under attack and ... did not provoke the assault, had at the time reasonable grounds to believe, and in good faith believed, that the deceased intended to take his life, or do him great bodily harm...was not obliged to retreat."

Michigan's Current Self Defense Law, Stand Your Ground

Michigan, like many states, has adopted a stand-your-ground law. The crux of the stand your ground law means someone with a reasonable belief of an attack (assault) may act in self defense, without any duty to retreat, provided that the person is legally at a place or location where he or she has a right to be. Similar to the Castle Doctrine, a person may be justified in using deadly force in certain situations and the "stand your ground" law would be a defense to criminal charges and a civil suit.

MCL 780.972 Use of deadly force by individual not engaged in commission of crime; conditions.

(1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:

(a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.

(b) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.

(2) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.

Michigan has become one of many states that has liberalized laws pertaining to carrying concealed weapons (CCW). The plethora of firearms in the hands of individuals will eventually lead to greater use of those firearms. Michigan's "stand your ground" law insures that this will all be played out in the streets and then in the courts.

A recent Time Magazine article, April 9, 2012, "THE LAW HEARD ROUND THE WORLD", covers the "stand your ground law" following the controversial case involving the death of Trayvon Martin. The article asks this question: "When it comes to a confrontation on a dark street, at least two competing impulses come to mind: Do you stand your ground or turn the other cheek? Engage or run?"

Self Defense Education, Knowledge of the Laws, Firearm Training

Our law firm strongly urges anyone who is charged with assault, homicide or has acted in self defense to seek the advice and services of a criminal defense lawyer. We consult with many clients who have CCW permits whom retain our business card in case of an incident. If you carry a firearm or intend to do so, we recommend that you enroll in all available classes at gun ranges to become proficient in the use of your firearm and become a member of the NRA for continuing education about gun safety and your rights. We also urge our clients to know Michigan's CCW laws, Michigan's self defense laws and their personal rights; especially the right to remain silent!

ABDO LAW FIRM
Phone: 586-412-5555

Imposition of No Contact Orders for Persons Charged with Michigan Criminal Offenses; Assault, Stalking, Domestic Violence

September 26, 2011,

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A NO CONTACT ORDER can be ordered in virtually any criminal case including retail fraud/shoplifting cases. In Macomb County, courts will invariably enter a NO CONTACT ORDER against an offender as a bond condition or upon conviction of retail fraud/shoplifting at the time of sentencing. In Michigan, courts routinely impose a NO CONTACT ORDER as a condition of being released or bonded for personal criminal offenses such as domestic violence, stalking, sex crimes and assault. For these offenses, the offender is prohibited from contacting the alleged victim.

Contact, for purpose of NO CONTACT ORDERS, is broadly defined to embrace any direct or indirect contact or communications by the offender or by using third parties to contact the victim. Contact also includes the use of all electronic media (phone, fax, cell phone, computer) to make contact. Therefore, contact can occur if the offender sends a text or email, posts something on the internet or uses a friend to make a phone call. A violation of the NO CONTACT ORDER may result in revocation of bond and jail.

An offender may unwittingly be the victim of a NO CONTACT ORDER violation when the offender responds to an email or text message from the victim or someone associated with the victim. It may very well be a violation even though the offender did not initiate the contact. Anyone who is under the jurisdiction of a NO CONTACT ORDER must be vigilant and prudent.

A NO CONTACT ORDER may be lifted under certain circumstances. In many domestic violence and assault cases, the offender and the victim may want to maintain their prior relationship. The offender cannot just start calling the victim or return to the residence without court approval. The single best way to insure that a NO CONTACT ORDER is removed correctly is to have an attorney file a motion and schedule a hearing. Motions are legal written requests made to the court. The motion is scheduled for a hearing before the court and the victim will be notified of the hearing date.

An attorney plays a vital role at a hearing to lift a NO CONTACT ORDER. A criminal defense attorney knows that the court's priorities will be for the preservation of public peace and the protection of the victim. The attorney may need to obtain proof regarding the offender's involvement in a substance abuse or anger management program. The victim will also be notified and questioned by the Judge at a hearing to remove the NO CONTACT ORDER. If the court feels that the victim was threatened or has any reservations about the well being of the victim, the NO CONTACT ORDER will remain in force.

Second-Degree Murder Charges After Victim Dies In Roseville Beating Case

March 21, 2011,

A Roseville woman is accused of having others beat her live-in boyfriend and failing to seek medical treatment, resulting in his death according to an article in the Oakland Press titled, "Three charged in beating death: Roseville man allegedly unconscious for 19 hours at girlfriend's home." The preliminary examination is scheduled for April 20th in the 38th District Court, which is located in the City of Roseville.

Initially, the suspects, all from Macomb County, had been charged with assault with intent to commit great bodily harm. However, the charges were enhanced to Second-Degree Murder following the death of the victim. Michigan's homicide laws and maximum penalties are as follows:

First Degree Murder: Mandatory life
Second Degree Murder: Life or any term of years
Manslaughter: 15 years
Negligent Homicide: 2 years

Manslaughter is broken down into 2 categories, voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter involves the intentional killing with circumstances involving provocation and excited passions but without lawful justification (reducing it from murder). Involuntary manslaughter involves an act by a person against another with an intent to injure or doing some act in a grossly negligent manner which causes death. The defense attorney will undoubtedly ask the court to instruct the jury on the lesser offense of manslaughter, a 15 year felony, in an effort to avoid a second degree murder conviction which can carry up to life in prison.

Continue reading "Second-Degree Murder Charges After Victim Dies In Roseville Beating Case" »

Hazel Park Man Charged With Stabbing at the Hayloft Bar In Mount Clemens

March 16, 2011,

A Hazel Park man was charged with assault in connection with a stabbing last month at a Mount Clemens night spot according to an article titled, Lapeer County man hospitalized after stabbing at Mount Clemens nightclub, in the Macomb Daily on March 14, 2011.

The suspect was arraigned in 41-B District Court, located in Clinton Township, with a felony charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. The maximum penalty for this offense is 10 years in prison. The court set bond at $30,000.00.

The defendant is accused of stabbing a man outside the Hayloft Bar on Feb. 20, 2011. The victim, a 27-year-old man, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Under Michigan Law, the offense known as "assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder" requires the prosecutor to prove that the defendant specifically intended to cause great bodily harm. Great bodily harm has been defined as "serious injury" of an aggravating nature. The seriousness of an injury along with the manner in which it was done may be introduced as evidence of the defendant's intent.

However, an actual injury is not required to be charged with this offense as long as the defendant had the ability, or believed he had the ability, to commit the offense. For example, aiming a loaded gun at someone could be introduced in evidence to show the ability to shoot someone. At this point, a person could be charged with an offense of "assault with a dangerous weapon". To elevate this to the offense of "assault with intent to do great bodily harm", more evidence would be required.

A common defense to an assault charge is self-defense. If a person acts in self-defense, his or her actions are excused and he or she is not guilty of any crime. When this defense is introduced, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense.

Continue reading "Hazel Park Man Charged With Stabbing at the Hayloft Bar In Mount Clemens " »