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Everything that you wanted to Know about the HYTA Law in Michigan

January 21, 2014,

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In Michigan, the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, commonly known as HYTA, is covered by statute, MCL 762.11. 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 to 20 years old. HYTA is not available for juvenile offenders; those under age 17. In Michigan, a person is considered an adult for their crimes at age 17 and beyond. 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.

Key aspects of a HYTA case: Conviction is not entered and records are sealed!

A person who seeks HYTA is required to formally plead guilty to the offense or offenses which are being considered for a HYTA plea. However, once the court accepts someone on HYTA status, the court does not enter a judgment of conviction and the court and Michigan State Police records become closed to the public view. The records remain sealed unless the person violates his or her HYTA status.

A person who is awarded HYTA status may be incarcerated. This is usually not the case unless there are compelling or aggravating circumstances. HYTA usually entails a term of probation with whatever conditions that the court deems appropriate for the youthful offender. If the offender violates any of the terms of probation, the guilty plea may be abstracted as a conviction. Should this occur, the conviction becomes a public record and the offender faces punishment and possible incarceration up to the maximum period of time allowed for the particular offense. However, if the person complies with the terms of probation, the case is dismissed at the end of probation and the record remains sealed. A sealed record means that it is not accessible to public access or by any member of the public who makes inquiry at the court or to a law enforcement agency.

How does someone get HYTA status?

HYTA status is not guaranteed and may be accepted or rejected in the judge's discretion. HYTA is obtained by an attorney negotiating this favorable disposition with the prosecutor and petitioning the court to accept the same. Since HYTA may be rejected by the court, it is vital that an attorney be retained in order to gain the best advantage in subsequent criminal proceedings.

HYTA status may also mean the imposition of probation, random testing for alcohol and drugs, counseling and payment of restitution. Restitution may be ordered in cases involving damage to property (home invasion, malicious destruction of property) or economic crimes (larceny).

HYTA is not available for some crimes and traffic offenses

HYTA is available for most criminal offenses including felonies and misdemeanors. However, the HYTA statute lists various offenses which are not eligible for HYTA status as follows:

  • Traffic offenses, including Operating While Intoxicated
  • An offense which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison
  • Major controlled substance offenses
  • Most criminal sexual conduct crimes

Creative legal solutions to get HYTA for ineligible crimes and offenders

Ineligible offenses: Sometimes, we are called upon to defend a client that is charged with an offense that is not eligible for HYTA. In such a case, we may attempt to seek a plea bargain to have the prohibited HYTA offense amended to an offense which is compatible with a HYTA disposition.

Offenders over age 20: When an offender is over age 20, HYTA is not applicable. In rare situations, our attorneys have been able to have the occurrence date of the crime amended to an earlier date when the offender's age would be under age 21.

HYTA Facts

  • There is no limit on the number of cases which may be placed on HYTA status.
  • An offender under age 17 or over age 20 is not eligible for HYTA.
  • HYTA is not guaranteed and may be rejected by the judge.
  • HYTA is not available for traffic violations or drunk driving.
  • HYTA may include jail, probation, counseling and restitution to any victims.

Other Michigan provisions which are similar to HYTA

There are other criminal cases which can be resolved by laws which are similar to HYTA. They are as follows:

The above provisions may only be utilized once in a person's lifetime. On the other hand, HYTA can be applied on an unlimited basis provided the offense and the offender are eligible and the judge accepts HYTA as part of the disposition. However, the likliehood of getting HYTA when someone has a prior record is remote.

In theory, with the right lawyer, a person can have several offenses dismissed in his or her lifetime by knowing how to petition the court for application of these alternative sentencing provisions of law.

Macomb County Juvenile Court, Juvenile Delinquency Cases: Closely Related to Adult Criminal Cases

November 24, 2013,

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Technically, juvenile cases are not considered criminal. However, juvenile cases, along with the responsibilities of an attorney representing a juvenile, are akin to criminal cases in many ways. The Michigan Penal Code applies to juvenile conduct. This means that juvenile crimes are labeled as a felony or misdemeanor which can become part of a permanent record. In addition, a juvenile may be detained or placement may be ordered. However, a juvenile may not be placed in an adult prison institution unless tried as an adult under certain circumstances. Even when tried as an adult, the juvenile is not housed with the adult inmates.

The main focus of this publication will pertain to "juvenile delinquency cases" with emphasis on our firm's experience in the Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court.

Crimes by Persons Age 16 or Younger Treated as Juveniles

At age 17 and beyond, a person is treated as an adult for his or her criminal conduct. In our website, we explain the availability of HYTA for Macomb County offenders that are age 17 but under age 21.

Generally, someone under age 17 who commits a crime is treated as a "juvenile". Juvenile cases which involve criminal activity are referred to as delinquency cases and are handled in the juvenile court. In certain cases, a juvenile case may be waived to the adult criminal court.

Younger Offenders, More Drug Crimes and Sex Crimes

In the past, society was able to resolve many juvenile related infractions outside of the court system. For example, if a juvenile broke a neighbor's window, the police might try to make contact with the juvenile's parents to pay restitution without court intervention. However, we are now seeing a greater number of cases instituted as formal juvenile delinquency cases than we did in the past. In addition, our Macomb County attorneys have seen an increase in drug related crimes that involve juveniles. I believe this is due to the accessibility of marijuana and prescription medications in our culture. Offenses which are labeled as sex crimes are also more prevalent in the juvenile system. Perhaps this is because children are exposed to sexuality at a younger age via the internet and television programming.

Drug Crimes and Traffic Offenses Result in License Sanctions

When a juvenile is charged with a drug crime, any traffic or driving offense and alcohol crimes, the Secretary of State will take action against the juvenile's driving privileges. A drug crime will result in license suspension for a minimum of 6 months.

The State of Michigan places new drivers on a probationary license for a period of 3 years. A traffic offense during this time frame can result in an extension of probation, warning or license suspension.

Police May Attempt to Obtain a Confession

Prior to the issuance of a petition within the Macomb County Juvenile Court, the police may attempt to obtain a confession or statement from the juvenile suspect. The juvenile has all of the rights as an adult and would be urged to remain silent until an attorney can be secured. An attorney can often make recommendations as to whether or not cooperation with the police is an appropriate course of action. It may not always be plausible to have an attorney on hand when the police confront a juvenile since the police prefer to catch a suspect off balance.


Juvenile Cases Begin With a Police Report and a Petition

If criminal activity of a juvenile is brought to the attention of the police or authorities, a report is generated and submitted to the prosecutor. If the conduct of the juvenile supports a criminal offense, the prosecuting attorney can file a petition in the juvenile court. In Macomb County, juvenile cases are evaluated by the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office. If the petition is approved, the juvenile may be detained pending an arraignment.

Our firm represented a juvenile that made a bomb threat directed at his elementary school. Upon petition for charges of making a bomb threat, the juvenile was arrested and held in the Macomb Juvenile Detention Center on a one-million dollar bond. Later, our firm was able to have the bond removed. The juvenile was eventually placed on probation when the court realized that the threat was not credible.

Juvenile Cases are Filed in the County Where the Juvenile Resides

Unlike adult criminal cases which are filed in the jurisdiction where the offense occurred, juvenile cases are filed in the county where the juvenile resides. Thus a juvenile that is a resident of Shelby Township or Washington Township would have his or her case heard in the Macomb County Juvenile Court even if the alleged criminal offense occurred in Oakland County or elsewhere. Our firm handled a case which involved a juvenile who was car hopping in counties outside of Macomb County. We were able to delay the proceedings for the purpose of joining all of the offenses in Macomb County for a consolidated plea agreement and disposition.

Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court

The Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court is located at 40 North Main, Mt. Clemens, Michigan 48043. When a case is filed, it is assigned to one of the referees. Presently, the following individuals serve as Macomb Juvenile Court Referees:

  • Linda Harrison
  • Deborah Brune
  • George Keller
  • Diane Femminineo
  • Karen Transit

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The job of a referee involves working with the attorney, the juvenile, the family, the prosecutor, the case worker and the victim. Although the referee is not the same as a judge, they are attorneys and empowered to conduct trials. My experience with the Macomb County Juvenile referees has been positive whereby reasonable dispositions are often achieved.

Right to Jury Trial

The juvenile is entitled to a trial if a case is not resolved by a plea bargain. Trials may be heard by the referee or by the Judge that is assigned to the case. However, the juvenile in a delinquency matter has a right to a jury trial pursuant to the United States Constitution. Trials in the juvenile system are handled pursuant to the Michigan Rules of Evidence.

Text Messaging, Photographs and Social Media Sites May Be Incriminating

Upon being retained, we will invariable advise our juvenile clients to refrain from drawing any negative attention. By this, we may insist that our client refrain from texting or posting anything on social networks such as Facebook. In addition, we may advise our client to remove any incriminating or unbecoming photographs which are posted on the internet. We may even recommend that our client shut down any social media internet sites while under investigation or the subject of a delinquency case.

Juvenile Case Dispositions

There are a wide range of dispositions which may be imposed in juvenile delinquency cases. The following is a list of possible dispositions:

  • Warn the juvenile and parents and terminate jurisdiction
  • Order in-home probation with monitoring and home visits by case worker
  • Place the juvenile in foster care
  • Order community service
  • Place the juvenile in a private or public institution for treatment and rehabilitation
  • Order youth home detention
  • Place the juvenile in boot camp
  • Order the parents to participate in relevant treatment
For minor infractions, the court may impose a mere warning. Where the facts are egregious, long term detention and placement can be ordered. Rarely does a case involve detention at the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center when a juvenile is not a risk to the community, resides in a stable environment and is attending school.

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Many of our cases in the Macomb County Juvenile Court have been dismissed outright upon compliance with a diversion program or consent calendar. To achieve a dismissal, the court may require a juvenile to complete counseling, a substance abuse program and comply with drug testing. A juvenile that fails to abide by the terms of the court's disposition may be detained within the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center.


Should you cooperate with the police, aka snitch, when faced with possible drug crimes?

June 21, 2013,

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Cooperation, 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?
Whether someone charged with a drug crime should cooperate with the police to get a favorable deal is a delicate and controversial topic. It is necessary to obtain legal advice should anyone be charged with a drug crime and asked to cooperate. Consultation with a criminal defense attorney is crucial - time is of the essence.

We have successfully defended clients charged with drug crimes since our firm's inception without taking the precarious route of "cooperation" with the police. This is especially true for clients who do not have a prior criminal record, and those that are caught with a small quantity of drugs or marijuana.

Some Facts about Cooperation with the Police

  • There is no guarantee that you will avoid criminal charges when you cooperate with the police!
  • The police will not be able to guarantee your safety if you engage in undercover drug deals!
  • Cooperation with the police ends when the police say it ends!
  • Cooperation may mean engaging in drug deals that not only involve much higher quantities than you had in your possession, but may also include buying other types of drugs!

What is the Purpose of Cooperation?

The need for inside information is a dynamic law enforcement tool in the war on drugs. A minor drug offender who is used by the police to get the 'bigger fish' is justified on the grounds that drugs are a dirty business. This issue necessitates the need for undercover informants. The end result is another drug bust which nets the police additional sources to gain information. Should the drug bust bear fruit, others will be implicated, assets forfeited and prosecutions will occur.

Retain a Lawyer to Protect Your Rights and Discuss Your Options

When someone is arrested for a drug crime, the arresting agency will attempt to get a suspect to cooperate, or snitch. This is usually followed an offer of possible preferential treatment in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, I hear from my clients far too often that they are told by the police that they do not need a lawyer in this scenario. This is absurd and dangerous. Whenever someone forgoes his or her 6th Amendment Constitutional right to a lawyer, he or she can wind up doing risky undercover drug deals without ever knowing all of the possible options. In addition, we found that police dictate the level of cooperation that is required. In other words, cooperation is not over until the police say it is over. This may mean that someone who is not faced with serious drug charges is coerced, or persuaded, to participate in risky undercover drug transactions without ever getting sound legal advice.

Here is what the police do not tell you:

  • Pursuant to the 6th Amendment of the US Constitutional, you have a right to an attorney.
  • Pursuant to the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution, you have a right to remain silent.
  • Your attorney can petition for deals to have your case dismissed pursuant to MCL 333.7411 or HYTA (Youthful Trainee Act), even if you do not cooperate with the police.
  • You may have defenses to the drug charges. For example, illegal searches and lack of actual possession.
  • You may not be facing jail.

We have made references to an excellent You Tube video, "Don't Talk to the Police", in other internet posts. We found the video to be extremely informative, as well as objective.

Cooperation in the Federal Court System

Federal criminal prosecutions are handled in a much more formal manner. In the Federal court system, the issue of cooperation is much different than what we see at the state court level. In the Federal system, special formalities and agreements exist. They involve both the District Attorney and at least one law enforcement agency; usually the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In the Federal arena, cooperation is prevalent and can be a factor to avoid a mandatory minimum sentence. The following language is contained within a Plea and Cooperation Agreement:

"If the defendant commits any crimes or if any of the defendant's statements or testimony prove to be knowingly false, misleading, or materially incomplete, or if the defendant otherwise violates this Plea and Cooperation Agreement in any way, the government will no longer be bound by its representations to the defendant concerning the limits on criminal prosecution and sentencing as set forth herein."

Don't do it alone. Our attorneys can help you determine the best course of action when it comes to dealing with your drug charges in the court system or the route of cooperating with the government. At times, cooperation with law enforcement may be a viable option. In the Federal system, it is routinely utilized in the plea bargaining and sentencing process. However, cooperation needs to be explored for each case on an individual basis by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Keep in mind that it is the client makes the ultimate decision whether to engage in cooperation or undercover operations with law enforcement officers. An attorney will look at the case from every angle, including the prospect of cooperation and whether drug charges can be fought and won. In addition, various Michigan statutes enable qualified offenders to obtain plea agreements for dismissals.


Proving Drug Possession: "Actual Possession" is not always required

August 31, 2012,

Every drug crime requires the element of "possession". In fact, drug crimes rank high on the list of frequently occurring felony cases in Michigan. Drug crimes include: "possession" or "possession with intent to deliver" marijuana, heroin, cocaine, MDMA or analogues.

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Whenever someone is charged with any drug crime, our criminal defense attorneys will question whether the accused legally possessed the alleged drugs.

Michigan Courts Define Possession In Criminal Cases

In Michigan, a person must knowingly and intentionally possess an illegal drug to be charged with possession of a controlled substance under Michigan's drug possession statute. But what does that mean?

The courts in Michigan consolidate possession into two categories

1. Actual possession: an individual has drugs on their person (pocket or shoe)
2. Constructive possession: individual has the right of control and dominion over the controlled substance



Actual possession is simple. If the drugs are in a person's pocket, that person possesses the drugs. But what if the drugs are found in a home where multiple people are present? What about in a car with more than one occupant? What if the person was unaware the drugs were in the car? Determining whether or not the individual had a right of control or dominion over the drugs, or over the premises (car, apartment, house) in which the drugs were found, is critical in these situations. However, an individual's presence in the same house or automobile as the drugs is insufficient to establish possession; a connection between the drugs and the individual must be found as well. When a person is merely present at a place where drugs are found or is an innocent bystander, our firm will argue that there is insufficient evidence to establish the element of possession.

Michigan Courts broadly interpret possession:

People v Nunez (2000): In this case, police entered a home and discovered, along with several occupants, a large stash of cocaine. Although Mr. Nunez didn't have the cocaine on his person, he was charged and convicted of possession of cocaine. The police arrived at their conclusion by observing the apartment and its contents. Mr. Nunez had a key for the apartment and stayed at the apartment most of the time. His name was also found on bills within the apartment. The connection between Mr. Nunez and the drugs was straightforward in this case.



People v Meshell (2005): In this case, police observed a man emerging from a garage in which they later discovered methamphetamine. Upon entering the area, police noticed a strong chemical odor coming from the garage. Mr. Meshell was the only person in the area of the garage and when police ran his record, they discovered past issues with methamphetamine. Because Mr. Meshell had past issues with meth, it was obvious that he knew the smell. He was also the only one in the area at the time police observed him exiting the garage.

People v McKinney (2003): In this case, police entered a home and discovered a large amount of cocaine. Police found crack in drawers containing women's clothing, and linked the drugs to Ms. McKinney because she was frequently staying at the apartment. Drugs were also found within the pockets of women's clothing in the bedroom she was sharing with the owner. By using the drug's location as evidence, the police were able to successfully charge and convict Ms. McKinney of possession of cocaine.

As you can see from the cases above, police can use the surrounding circumstances to establish an individual's possession of a controlled substance:

1. Any past drug-related criminal activity
2. The smell of the drugs, particularly marijuana
3. Whether or not the person was alone
4. Utility bills for the home in which the drugs were found


Continue reading "Proving Drug Possession: "Actual Possession" is not always required" »

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.

Notice to Parents and Adults: Think Twice Before Allowing Under Age Drinking as You Face Liability Pursuant to Michigan Social Host Liability Law and Criminal Charges

May 23, 2012,

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This is the high season for high school graduation parties, summertime picnics and 4th of July gatherings. Now through Labor Day, teens will freely drink alcoholic beverages at the homes of their friends with adults/parents consenting to the illegal conduct. Otherwise responsible adults with no criminal record will break the law and allow under-age children to consume alcohol at their homes.

Michigan Social Host Liability (Civil Liability) for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

In Michigan, the adults who allow persons under age 21 to consume alcohol face civil liability if the minor's consumption of alcohol causes injury or death to another. The injured third party or the minor may file a lawsuit and recover under a social host theory! Think again if you believe that your adult friends who let their minor children drink at your home will support you if one their children is injured after consuming alcohol at your residence. The Social Host Liability law is friendly to personal injury lawyers as it imposes almost strict liability upon the adults that provide consent or lack of supervision leading to the consumption of alcohol by an under-aged person who causes the death or injury to another.

Michigan Criminal Offenses for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

Pursuant to MCL 436.1701, a person or retail establishment that sells or furnishes alcohol to a minor faces misdemeanor criminal charges. If the minor's alcohol consumption causes a person's death, the person who furnished the alcohol can be charged with a felony. An adult may also be prosecuted under the statute known as Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.

-A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 and imprisonment for not more than 60 days for a first offense, a fine of not more than $2,500.00 and imprisonment for not more than 90 days for a second or subsequent offense, and may be ordered to perform community service. For a second or subsequent offense, the secretary of state shall suspend the operator's or chauffeur's license of an individual who is not a retail licensee or retail licensee's clerk, agent, or employee and who is convicted of violating this subsection.

-A person is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both, if the subsequent consumption of the alcoholic liquor by the minor is a direct and substantial cause of that person's death or an accidental injury that causes that person's death.

The police will also charge a minor who is found in possession of alcohol or who has consumed alcohol (except when the minor can prove he has legally consumed alcohol in a place like Canada). This charge is commonly known as MIP which is given coverage on the Abdo Law Firm website.

Our blogs usually include an image at the beginning of the entry. I thought long and hard about an appropriate image for this blog. My ideas included cheerful graduates, backyard celebrations, car crash photos, teen alcohol consumption, images of someone in a wheelchair, a funeral, etc... In the end, I decided to use the cute July 4th plant image. I want this to symbolize all of the other images that I considered and my sincere hope that everyone has a safe graduation and summer season.

Continue reading "Notice to Parents and Adults: Think Twice Before Allowing Under Age Drinking as You Face Liability Pursuant to Michigan Social Host Liability Law and Criminal Charges" »

Oakland Mall and Somerset Collection Retail Fraud Cases and the 52-4 District Court in Troy, Michigan

May 1, 2012,

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The City of Troy is one of Michigan's premier cities for commercial office space, hotel space, upscale housing, restaurants and retail establishments. Yet Troy remains one of the safest cities in Michigan according to a 2011 report. The government complex, located off Big Beaver Road and I-75, is where you will find the 52-4 District Court and the Troy Police Department which I can say are proactive when it comes to maintaining this reputation of Troy.

While Troy is considered a safe city as far as violent serious crimes are concerned, Troy gets it share of retail fraud cases which occur at the major retail shopping destinations which include the Oakland Mall and the Somerset Collection. These malls are among the busiest in the State of Michigan and retail fraud is not a crime that will be treated lightly by the Judges at the 52-4 District Court.

Retail fraud is classified by the degree of seriousness and whether the offender has a prior record. Retail fraud in the first degree is a felony which can carry 5 years in prison. Retail fraud in the second or third degree are misdemeanors:

Retail fraud in the second degree is a misdemeanor where the property stolen has a value of $200.00 but less than $1,000.00. It is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

Retail fraud in the third degree is a misdemeanor where the value of property stolen has a value less than $200.00. It is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

The ultimate goal which we seek for our clients is the avoidance of a retail fraud conviction. Such a conviction is a mark of dishonesty on a person's permanent criminal record. Fortunately, our experience in handling retail fraud cases in Troy has been positive as far as first offenders are concerned. The same is also true in other venues with major retail establishments where we practice including all of the district courts in Macomb County such as Sterling Heights and Clinton Township. In this regard, we attempt to utilize special provisions of law such as HYTA (Youthful Trainee Status for offenders age 17 and under age 21), Delayed Sentence (MCL 771.1) or the First Offender Program to gain a dismissal of the conviction. Absent aggravating circumstances, these provisions are available upon getting concurrence from the prosecuting attorney, probation department and the Judge at the time of sentencing.

I will explain the court process for someone who obtains a first offense misdemeanor retail fraud.

Pretrial Conference: After arraignment, a retail fraud case will be scheduled for a pretrial conference. It is at this stage where a criminal defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecuting attorney for a recommendation that the case be considered for a dismissal pursuant to one of the available provisions as I mentioned in the previous paragraph (HYTA, Delayed Sentence, First Offender Program). A disposition pursuant to this course of action will avoid trial but mean that the person will have to admit to the offense of retail fraud.

Pre-sentence Report
: After the pretrial conference, a person will be required to be interviewed by the probation department. The 52-4 District Court has its own probation department (52-4 District Court Probation Department link) located inside of the court building. Our attorneys like to have our clients well prepared for this interview because the probation department can recommend for, or against, the client getting a deal which can mean a dismissal.

Sentence: At the time of sentence, we will be able to review the report prepared by the probation department. The Judge has the final say as to whether a person will be given the opportunity to have the conviction dismissed. When the Judge grants disposition pursuant to HYTA, MCL 771.1 or the First Offender Program, an offender can expect to be placed on probation for at least one (1) year, along with fines, court costs and other conditions. Other conditions may include a retail fraud class, community service and testing for illegal substances and alcohol.

If the person complies with the conditions ordered by the Court, the conviction will be dismissed at the end of probation. Upon failure to comply, the person will face a probation violation hearing and possible sanctions which include jail and placing the conviction on one's record!


Continue reading "Oakland Mall and Somerset Collection Retail Fraud Cases and the 52-4 District Court in Troy, Michigan" »

Underage Drinking and Driving in Macomb County, Myths and Facts

September 15, 2011,

cop car.jpgMYTH #1: Underage drivers cannot be charged with a DUI unless they are above the legal limit.

FACT: False! Underage drivers on the road with ANY presence of alcohol may be charged with a drinking and driving crime. This type of charge is known as a zero tolerance. Repercussions can be severe, including;

- 30 day driver's license suspension,
- $125.00 reinstatement fee,
- 4 points on master driving record,
- Community service,
- Court fines,
- Probation,
- And state fees of $500.00 for 2 years.

Repeat offenders typically face stiffer penalties. This includes a longer license suspension, additional fees, and additional points. Further, when underage drivers are above the legal limit they can be charged with an OWI. OWI's, as we have explained in detail, can be onerous in terms of the subsequent fines, punishment, and probation.

If you find yourself as a minor being charged with a drinking and driving offense seek legal representation. Our office has specialized in drinking and driving crimes for over 30 years. With each of these cases we always seek a sentence that is most favorable for our clients. Our office will always fight to eliminate jail time and advocates terms of probation that will be manageable for our clients. Do not let these cases linger, retain aggressive legal assistance and fight the charges.

MYTH #2: You can only get charged with an MIP for drinking alcohol.

FACT: False! Mere possession alcohol is sufficient to be charged with an MIP. Further, you can be charged with an MIP for transporting alcohol in your car (even if it's the passenger's). The meager act of holding a beer without taking a sip is sufficient for someone to be charged with a MIP. Further, we would like to remind you that the following is illegal;

- Allowing an intoxicated person to use your vehicle,
- Purchasing alcohol for anyone under 21,
- Providing a fake identification to anybody under the age of 21,
- Allowing minors to use alcohol in your home,
- And providing alcohol to minors.

Once again, we recommend anyone being charged with an MIP retain the help of an attorney. Especially when it is a first offense, our office usually can procure an arrangement where the charge will come off the client's record. With these cases we aim to preserve the records of our young clients, keep them out of jail, and minimize any terms of probation.

Continue reading "Underage Drinking and Driving in Macomb County, Myths and Facts" »

East Lansing: Offenses on Campus- MIPs

August 15, 2011,

pubs_of_EL.jpgWith fall quickly approaching many students are bracing for their return to college. Many college age students from Macomb County attend MSU. The University in recent years has seen an enhanced police presence both on and off campus. The combination of football Saturdays, a sizable off campus student population, and a large density of bars makes for many arrests every weekend in East Lansing. While for some an offense such as an MIP may seem trivial or the "norm", it is warned that all students and East Lansing residents charged with MIP's deal with these charges. Though not immediately apparent, a misdemeanor can have far-reaching repercussions. Having an MIP on one's record can impact on the following;

- Permanent criminal record;
- Eligibility for student loans;
- Eligibility for home loans;
- Eligibility for auto loans;
- Graduate school admissions;
- Employment applications;
- and professional licensing.

Any graduate student or freshly minted professional will be able to tell you the paramount importance of keeping a clean criminal record. Having convictions on one's record often puts applicants for schools / employment in the terrible position of having to disclose and explain or risk failing to disclose and getting caught. Avoid these problems in the first place and attack an MIP or minor criminal charge head-on. Record preservation is of vital significance for college students, especially when considering a competitive marketplace for jobs and graduate school seats. Too often students summarily plead guilty to misdemeanor offenses under the mistaken assumption that they are akin to a civil infraction or a parking violation. This is not the case, MIP's are a criminal offense. Thus it is directed that any student being charged with such an offense engage the services of a lawyer.

What then should MSU students and East Lansing residents being charged with a misdemeanor expect during the course of their case? East Lansing cases are disposed of in the 54-B District Court. The Court is located on Linden street (by the 711 and Grove Parking garage) and is presided over by the Honorable Judges Richard D. Ball (Chief Judge) and David L. Jordon. If being arraigned it is very important to plead not guilty. By doing this the case will be set for a pretrial conference where your attorney may be able to negotiate a deferral, more on that below.

With the assistance of counsel, those charged with MIPs can often get the charges off their criminal record pursuant to MCL 436.1703. Sometimes called a deferral, a delayed sentence, or an "under advisement" the result is that the charges will be dismissed upon compliance of the Court's probationary terms. With the charges dismissed students can say that they have never been convicted of an MIP, as it will not show up on their public record.

Click to see Part 2 of the "Offenses on Campus" Series regarding disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana...

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