Michigan Criminal Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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In Michigan, the offense of embezzlement is a crime of opportunity which is committed by someone who is in a position of trust (such as a cashier or teller) or in a special position to care for the property of another (accountant, bookkeeper). The recession has caused financial hardship for many of our clients in Macomb County and Oakland County. The housing crisis, stock market decline and bleak employment situation hit many people at a time when they were funding retirement plans and college educations. After 2007, embezzlement crimes soared in the United States. Unfortunately, desperation, poverty, drug use and opportunity are causes why otherwise law abiding people break the law to make ends meet.

Embezzlement Penalties

Wikipedia defines embezzlement as the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one to whom such assets have been entrusted. Embezzlement is covered in the Michigan Penal Code at MCL 750.174. The maximum penalties are as follows:

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This blog is long overdue. In this blog I will attempt to explain the reasons that make it so difficult to get a domestic violence dropped or dismissed.

The Prosecutor Represents the People of Michigan or Municipality Where the Offense Occurred

First of all, it is important to understand that once a criminal case is pursued, the prosecutor represents the people or public at large for a specific jurisdiction. County Prosecutors have authority to pursue criminal cases on behalf of the “People of Michigan”. City or township prosecutors have authority to prosecute those that are accused of committing ordinance violations within their jurisdiction. Federal criminal cases are prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office. For this reason, the court title of any criminal case is:

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When a person commits a crime that involves a victim, a number of laws apply that provide the victim with several rights. Some of these rights allow for the victim to collect restitution, speak at sentencing, be afforded a victim’s rights advocate and confer with the prosecutor. In every respect, these are important rights.


Article 1, Section 24 of Michigan’s Constitution
provides as follows:

Crime victims, as defined by law, shall have the following rights, as provided by law:

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Above image is an actual court disposition resulting in dismissal of multiple offenses.

This blog is based upon our experience representing clients that are charged with multiple criminal offenses. Multiple criminal offenses may be brought even when there is a single intent involved. When confronted with multiple criminal charges, our objective becomes one of untangling the mess, isolating what really occurred and attempting to get charges reduced or dropped.

In certain situations, a person may obtain multiple criminal charges arising out a single incident, single intent or criminal episode. An evening of alcohol consumption with friends, or the escalation of a domestic altercation, sometimes ends poorly. In other cases, multiple criminal charges may be the result of an over-zealous prosecutor or police agency seeking to hit an offender with every offense in the Michigan Penal Code. In our experience, multiple criminal charges arising out of a single incident is usually “over-kill” on the part of the prosecutor or cops and seldom results in multiple convictions when approached with a sound legal strategy.

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A recent storyline on the Shotime series ‘Shameless‘ has focused on the show’s protagonist being charged with a crime for the first time. Fiona Gallagher, Shameless’ lead played brilliantly by Emmy Rossum, is charged with narcotic possession and child endangerment when a child in her care accidentally ingests drugs at her home. In my opinion, the portrayal of the indignities she suffers and choices she is faced with are for the most part realistic depictions of a first time offender’s interaction with the criminal justice system. I think this storyline is laudable, because it is an aspect of the law often overlooked in popular culture (TV shows and movies tend to focus on corporate legal proceedings and capital crimes it seems).

When Fiona is arrested, she is brought to jail awaiting her arraignment. Shameless unflinchingly outlines the discomfort and invasion of privacy one endures in jail. Something I hear almost every day in my office is ‘One night was enough, I will never go back.’ The arraignment is shown next, accurately so as well. Fiona is unable to retain counsel so her bond ends up being set high. Bond, for those who don’t know is an insurance policy that you will return to court for future dates. I’ve found that people who retain counsel have a better shot at getting a reasonable bond, even where they are charged with a felony.

Fiona then struggles with her public defender. While the public defender seems very well versed in nuances of Fiona’s charge, she’s spread thin. This can certainly happen in real life. Public defenders can get very large caseloads that they have to stay competent on and split their time between. There are a lot of capable public defenders, much like Fiona’s, but access to them can be a real issue as shown in Shameless.

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HYTA is avaialble for criminal offenders age 17 but before age 24. The result is that the court does not enter a judgment of conviction, the record is sealed and the case is dismissed upon compliance!

In Michigan, a person is charged as an adult for criminal offenses that occur at age 17 and older. This may be a surprise to most people since other laws treat individuals that are under age 18 as minors. However, Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, commonly known as HYTA gives a youthful offender a chance to keep a criminal offense, including a felonies, off of his or her record.

The essence of HYTA is that it allows for dismissal of eligible criminal offenses committed by youthful offenders. This statute applies only to offenders that are age 17 but before age 24. HYTA is not available for juvenile offenders; those under age 17 or for offenders that are age 24 or older. The dismissal of a criminal offense pursuant to HYTA is tantamount to an expungement. The benefit of getting HYTA means that the offender avoids the stigma and label of a criminal conviction. Subject to some exceptions, HYTA is available for most felonies and misdemeanors. A person applying for a job or filling out an employment application would be able to exclude an offense dismissed pursuant to compliance with HYTA.

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In Michigan, the crime of public urination is not included in the Michigan Compiled Laws. However, many towns, villages and cities have ordinances against such behavior and offenders may be arrested for violating the ordinances. For example, Delta Township (west of the City of Lansing) has such an ordinance, which makes urinating in public illegal. The maximum penalty for this misdemeanor is up to 90 days in jail.

Because Michigan doesn’t have a specific crime related to urinating in public, an individual may be charged pursuant to state law under the Indecent Exposure statute, under MCL 750.335a or the Disorderly Conduct statute. This crime has negative connotations which are associated with deviancy or sexual misconduct. A conviction on a person’s record leads to undeserved misunderstandings and possibly labels the person as a weirdo or trouble maker.

Unfortunately, many persons who engage in the conduct of urinating in public are those who leave taverns or bars after consuming alcohol. We see a greater number of persons charged with this crime in places like Royal Oak, St. Clair Shores or downtown Utica where many bars are located within a confined geographical area. The police tend to be on the lookout for misconduct such as urinating in public, disorderly conduct and public intoxication in areas where bars are close to residential areas as well.

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From 1920 until 1933, the sale, production and use of alcoholic beverages was illegal in the United States. This was known as Prohibition. What I didn’t know was that a doctor could prescribe alcohol for medicinal purposes pursuant to the National Prohibition Act during this era. The image which is located at the top of this article was obtained from an actual scanned prescription which was issued on December 20, 1928 to a resident of Washington, D.C. The prescription was for 1 pint of whiskey. The prescription contains the pre-printed words, “Prescription Form for Medicinal Liquor.” Perhaps the person who obtained the medicinal liquor had a cough due to cold or was just stocking up before New Years!

Prescriptions for alcohol were actually quite common during prohibition. The substance whiskey was also prescribed under the label of “spiritus frumenti” as the image below illustrates.
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Does this resemble the course of action which we are now seeing regarding the medicinal use of marijuana?

JUSTICE.gifAbdo Law Firm prides itself on empathy, understanding, personal service, and striving for the optimal resolution of all legal matters that we take on. We are entering our fourth year with Matthew as a partner, and are continuing to grow. We always looking to hone our skills and engage challenging issues. This year we have had hundreds of satisfied clients, each case is very important to our Firm. The ‘Notable Cases” series is intended to share with readers cases that had complex legal and factual questions. ‘Winning’ in law is not always black-and-white concept. In some cases, a win is helping a guilty client reach a best-case-scenario disposition of their case (reductions, keeping charges off their record, and reducing jail/minimizing probationary terms). In other instances, a win is a dismissal or NG verdict. With every new case, we sit with our clients and determine exactly how we can win and the best means of reaching that objective. Read below to learn more about some our Firm’s more demanding cases and the tactics we employed defending our clients.

Sterling Heights: Moving Violation Causing Death

In the summer of 2012, we were approached by a client who was being charged with Moving Violation Causing Death. The client was in a situation where a criminal misdemeanor would have cost her job, and moreover harsh severe license sanctions. The facts were as follows. The client was backing from her driveway when her car made contact with a bicyclist, the bicyclist died as a result. Nonetheless, our client maintained she was backing up slowly and never saw the bicyclist until she heard contact. There were no third-party eye witnesses and all of the evidence corroborated the client’s rendition of the facts. There was no exterior damage done to the car.

computer crime scene.jpgOur law firm is seeing a wave of cases which involve the criminal offense “possession of child pornography” in both the State of Michigan and Federal Court system. The increase in child pornography arrests is related to the Federal child porn crackdown which involves several law enforcement agencies.

The Macomb Area Computer Enforcement (M.A.C.E.) is a unit of the Macomb County Sheriff Department which is dedicated to the investigation of computer crimes. This unit also cooperates with Federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of child pornography cases.

How law enforcement operates to catch child porn offenders