Michigan Criminal Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Criminal Record History

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.

image.pngCooperation, Undercover Drug Deals, Snitching: Using the little fish to get the big fish.

We have found that our clients charged with drug crimes experience a state of insecurity and despair when it comes to doing undercover work or cooperating with the police. This is something that is outside of the comfort zone for nearly everyone, especially the family members of our clients faced with this dilemma.

The classic predicament: Should a person engage in undercover drug deals or hire a lawyer for advice and face the criminal charges in the court system?

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At Abdo Law, we deal with many clients that maintain a Concealed Pistol License, or CPL, and the question always arises: will I lose my CPL if I’m charged or convicted of a crime? The answer is maybe, but Abdo Law’s dedicated attorneys will do everything in their power to guide clients through the process.

The State of Michigan sets guidelines for those wishing to obtain a CPL:

• Applicant must be at least 21 years of age;

• Be a citizen of the United States or an immigrant lawfully admitted into the United States (green card holders)

• Be a resident of the State of Michigan for at least 6 months prior to application
• Successfully complete a pistol safety training course
• The applicant may not be subject to involuntary hospitalization, an order finding legal incapacitation or a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity
• Not be subject to a conditional bond release that prohibits the purchase/use of firearms
• Not be subject of a personal protection order (PPO)

• Applicant has not been prohibited from having firearms in his/her possession, pursuant to MCL 750.224f

• Have no felony charge pending in Michigan, or any other jurisdiction
• Applicant was not dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces
In addition to the above requirements, applicants for a CPL must prove to the State of Michigan that they have not been convicted of certain misdemeanors. Some convictions bar the applicant for 8 years and others bar the applicant for 3 years. Lists with examples of such crimes have been provided below.

A question that occasionally presents itself is whether a matter that was disposed of under HYTA, 7411, 769.4a, or 771.1 will affect a CPL license. It is my understanding is that a CPL typically will not be granted to individuals on probation, even with a deferral. These dispositions still show up on the back end of records systems for law enforcement. Moreover, my understanding is that while it is possible to get a CPL after a case disposed of with HYTA or 7411, it is less likely for a case concluded with 769.4a or 771.1. Before being granted the license, in Macomb County for example, you need to first sit before a board. Somebody who just got off probation, even with a 769.4a, may have trouble getting a CPL even though the case has been dismissed. Being that the charge tends to indicate violent behavior, it is my opinion such an individual will have more difficulty getting a CPL than someone with a 7411 deferral. Please be advised, this is just my opinion.

Nonetheless, if you believe your current or potential gun rights could be jeopardized you should engage counsel immediately. Deferrals, reductions, and dismissals could be helpful in reducing the time that you are ineligible for a CPL. On the following page we have provided crimes that make applicants ineligible for a CPL.
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Royal Oak is one of the most popular nightlife destinations in Metro Detroit. There are few other towns that in just a couple city blocks have so many options for food and entertainment. Every week thousands of patrons fill restaurants such as Ronin, Town Tavern, or Andiamo. Royal Oak is also home to many well-known night spots such as Commune, Blackfinn, Fifth Avenue, and Luna. While there seems to be a push to attract people to the City for an evening out, Royal Oak does not tolerate drunken behavior on its streets. Anyone who sits in the back of the 44th District‘s Court Room for a morning will tell you that the docket is full of drinking related offenders. The point of this blog post is two-fold, one is to inform how to avoid a disorderly conduct charge and the second is to explain how our office can help if you are being charged in Royal Oak.

Disorderly conduct is NOT a civil infraction, it is a criminal misdemeanor, and it is punishable by jail time as well as a fine. Legally speaking, the City of Royal Oak defines Disorderly Conduct as follows;

§ 278-35. Disorderly conduct
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A person commits the offense of disorderly conduct if he or she:
A. Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior;
B. Makes unreasonable noise which tends to cause a public danger, alarm, disorder or nuisance;
C. Uses threatening, abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture, which by their very use inflict injury or tend to incite a breach of the peace;
D. Without lawful authority, disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons;
E. Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic;
F. Possesses or consumes alcoholic liquor in any public park, public place of amusement, or area under the jurisdiction of the City of Royal Oak that is owned and/or administered by the City of Royal Oak;
G. Urinates in a public place, except at public toilets.
H. Engages in an illegal occupation or business;
I. Loiters in a house of ill fame or prostitution or place where prostitution or lewdness is practiced, encouraged, or allowed;
J. Knowingly loiters in or about a place where an illegal occupation or business is being conducted;
K. Is found jostling or roughly crowding people unnecessarily in a public place;
L. Commits the offense of failure as a disorderly person to disperse if he or she participates with two more other persons in a course of disorderly conduct likely to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, and intentionally refuses or fails to disperse when ordered to do so by a peace officer or other public servant engaged in executing or enforcing the law;
M. Permits or suffers any place occupied or controlled by him or her to be a resort of noisy, boisterous, or disorderly persons.
N. A person commits the offense of public intoxication if he or she appears in a public place under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, other drugs or combination thereof and he or she is either endangering directly the safety of another person or of property, or is acting in a manner that causes a public disturbance.
O. Commits the offense of window peeping.

Practically speaking, this covers a wide range of behavior that many might not realize amounts to criminal activity. There are a few situations that normally result in this charge. Oftentimes somebody will get forcibly removed from a bar, only to find the police outside, who witness the scene and issue a disorderly citation. Other situations come from groups of people who have been gathering outside a place of business. This occurs frequently during big sporting events. The police will then ask everyone to leave, and those who are stubborn will often be charged with disorderly – fail to disperse. Other activity that will put you at risk for a disorderly conduct is being loud, harassing people in places of business, interfering with public property, and most importantly being disrespectful towards law enforcement. The very nature of disorderly conduct, in our opinion, is that it is a fallback charge when conduct does not rise to the level of a more serious crime. Word to the wise, if being questioned by police ALWAYS be cooperative and polite. Lashing out towards law enforcement can turn a 90 day disorderly conduct misdemeanor charge into a 2 year resisting obstructing felony charge.

Unfortunately these cases do not lend themselves neatly to trials. Typically the accused was drunk and it makes for memory/credibility issues. However, our office has found that such cases are normally ripe for negotiation. If you are charged with Disorderly Conduct, DO NOT JUST SHOW UP FOR COURT AND ADMIT GUILT. Oftentimes, what we can arrange for is a probationary period (a year is standard) whereby the charge will be dismissed at the conclusion of the term.

Most of the people we see charged with this offense are young adults, those applying for school and work. A disorderly conduct is a horrible offense to have on your record at such a crucial period. Without any context for the charge, employers and educators will just see that the accused was too drunk in public. For that reason, fighting or negotiating these charges is crucial.

Our Firm is experienced in Royal Oak’s District Court. We have found that its Judges are very realistic, fair, and will listen to well-reasoned arguments. Depending on the circumstances our office may recommend counseling if we believe, based on our experience, that it is necessary.
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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
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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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Eastland_Center_Logo.gifIn Michigan, retail fraud, more commonly referred to as shoplifting, is an aggressively prosecuted and pervasive offense. Frequently, our office defends these cases in Harper Woods where the Eastland Mall is located and many of these offenses occur. Originally opened in 1957, the facility houses large department stores including the Burling Coat Factory, Macy’s and Sears. Most large chain stores have loss prevention (see our related post) and prosecute theft aggressively.

What is it that you need to know if you are being charged with retail fraud? Defendants should take note that the prosecution need not prove that you left the store with misappropriated merchandise. Pursuant to MCL 750.356d it only needs be shown that intent not to pay is coupled with one of the following;

– Altering merchandise,

partridge_left.jpg On October 18, 2007, the Mall at Partridge Creek opened in Clinton Twp. A sprawling open air complex, Partridge Creek quickly became the premier shopping destination in Macomb County, as it was the first large retail establishment to open since Lakeside Mall in 1976. The facility features a variety of high end chains, including an Apple Store, Nordstrom, Express, and Parisian (amongst others). Typically, large commercial establishments such as Partridge Creek become targets for theft. Usually these high end retailers have in-house loss prevention departments and actively push to prosecute shoplifters.

In Michigan, the crime of shoplifting is prosecuted as an offense known as “retail fraud“. The crime of retail fraud can be charged as a criminal misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the dollar amount of property involved. If the value of the property stolen is under the value of $1,000.00, it is a misdemeanor.

What can those being prosecuted for a theft crime (retail fraud) in Clinton Twp. expect? Our office’s experience with retail fraud cases in Clinton Township’s 41-B District Court is as follows. The 41-B District Court is located at 22380 Starks Drive, Clinton Twp and is presided over by the Honorable Judges Davis, Lucido, and Fuca. Typically these cases can be handled in one appearance, and our goal is always record preservation. First time offenders are eligible for Michigan’s delayed sentence law, MCL 771.1. Under this provision, violators will have their criminal record cleared of a retail fraud/shoplifting offense so long as they comply with the terms of their probation. This is particularly important for those searching for jobs or applying to school. A theft crime in the eyes of many employers and educators is indicative of dishonesty, and thus is important to have cleared from one’s record.

bomb-squad-tape[1].jpgBomb threats are a serious matter as recently illustrated in a Macomb Daily article, “Shelby Township man arrested in bomb threat at Mount Clemens DuPont plant.” In that particular case, a 43 year old man apparently made a bomb threat at a DuPont plant and said, “If you care about your employees, get them out. There are two bombs set to go off.” Although no bomb was found, the person was still charged. Bond was set at $10,000.00 and a preliminary examination is scheduled in the 41-B District Court in Clinton Township on June 13th.

In Michigan, bomb threat cases are felonies which fall under the category of false reporting or crimes/threats and can be punished by up to 4 years in prison and/or $2,000.00 fine pursuant to MCL 750.411a. A second conviction for making a bomb threat can carry up to 10 years in prison.

The financial cost of a bomb threat is enormous given the need for deployment of specialized law enforcement equipment and personnel along with the cost of business interference. These costs can be imposed against a person convicted of making a bomb threat in Michigan. First of all, the convicted person can be ordered to pay the state or local government for the cost to respond to the false threat. This can include all police and emergency responders which become involved to inspect the premises and provide security. In addition, the convicted person can be ordered to pay the victim restitution for the costs associated with the false threat. According to the above mentioned Macomb Daily article, the DuPont plant was forced to close while the bomb threat was investigated. Under the circumstances, the Company would be entitled to request restitution for costs and losses associated with the temporary shutdown. The insurance company for the victim may also be a party who would be able to claim restitution.

The following procedure will guide you to search for your criminal history records for expungement, employment/education applications, visa, immigration, personal records check or adoption (fingerprints are required). Individuals requesting their own criminal history receive all data (public and nonpublic):

-If you are a Michigan resident, go to your local Michigan law enforcement agency and ask to be printed on a Michigan Applicant Fingerprint card (RI-8). Complete the card entirely.

-If you are not a Michigan resident but require a Michigan criminal history record check, go to any law enforcement agency in the state where you reside and ask to be printed on a FBI Applicant Fingerprint card (FD-258). In the “Reason Fingerprinted” block of the card write in “Michigan Record Check”. Complete the card entirely. Include a cover letter explaining the reason for the fingerprint submission. Requirements are the same as Michigan residents.