IMG_0795

READ THIS PARAGRAPH even if you don’t read anything else on this page!

This is a must read if you are thinking about obtaining a gun or a Concealed Pistol License. Obtaining a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) is easy. For those meeting CPL eligibility, attending a CPL class and shooting your firearm at a close range target is about all that is required. However, once you obtain a CPL, you will need to be constantly vigilant when you are carrying your firearm, handling your firearm and storing your firearm. I would urge anyone that has a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) to get a lawyer on retainer for any possible predicaments or advice as necessary with issues that may be on the horizon. We believe that most CPL holders are responsible and never have a desire to use a firearm against another human being unless absolutely necessary for self-defense. However, knowing when you can act in self-defense and what to do if you use a firearm are of the utmost importance if you are thinking about carrying a firearm. If you use a gun against another person, the police will conduct an investigation according to assault and homicide protocol. You may be the one that ends up calling the police if nobody else is around. The 911 recording will be kept as evidence. Whatever you say on that 911 call could be the difference between winning a trial on self-defense grounds or getting convicted of a felony. The police will also take witness statements from the friends of the bad guy. What do you they will say about the incident? In addition to the police, if you draw your gun and shoot someone, family members of the bad guy will attempt to vilify you and put pressure on the police and prosecutor to take criminal action for an assault or a homicide crime even though you acted in justifiable self-defense.

Potential criminal charges for drawing or using a firearm against another person

If you carry a concealed weapon (CCW) without a permit, it is a felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison. Whether you have a permit to carry or not, once a gun is drawn in the presence of another person, there is the possibility of being charged with an assault crime and/or firearm crime, such as:

  • Assault with a dangerous weapon
  • Assault with intent to do great bodily harm
  • Assault with intent to murder
  • Homicide
  • Intentionally discharging a firearm aimed without malice
  • Possession a firearm on prohibited premises
  • Brandishing a firearm
  • Reckless discharge of a firearm
  • Possession of firearm under the influence

A criminal defense lawyer can estimate whether you will be treated as a hero or a criminal for using a firearm against another person. It is important for anyone with a CPL to know things such as whether it is permissible or a crime to use a gun from a moving vehicle or whether you can draw your weapon to scare off an annoying person.

Basic rules of self-defense

Michigan is a Castle Doctrine state and has a “stand your ground” law. A person may use deadly force, with no duty to retreat anywhere he or she has the legal right to be. Any person who uses a gun legitimately in self-defense has immunity from civil liability.

Use of Non-deadly Force: An individual not engaged in the commission of a crime may use non-deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if the person 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.

Use of Deadly Force: An individual not engaged in the commission of a crime may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if the person honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to prevent:

  • Imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual; or
  • Imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.

Be a student and practice the art of self-defense

It is important to continuously practice using a firearm and research various firearm and self-defense scenarios that you might encounter. It is also wise to consider self-defense training for situations when a firearm is not appropriate or your firearm is not readily accessible.

There is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to self-defense. Fortunately, there are numerous outstanding resources and courses available to keep yourself sharp and prepared to defend yourself should the need arise.  The internet is a vast source of every imaginable self-defense situation that you possibly could encounter:

There are countless scenarios that you need to consider when acting in self-defense either with or without a firearm. Do your research on common self-defense situations. Also, ask your lawyer about matters that might seem obscure but that could arise such as whether it is ever appropriate to use your firearm from a moving vehicle against another person in a moving vehicle. Here is what we say in our website about using a firearm from a moving vehicle:

Continue reading ›

4-RULES-OF-GUN-SAFETY

CPL Eligibility in Michigan

It’s a felony in Michigan to carry a concealed pistol on your person or in a motor vehicle without a CPL. However, if you meet the legal requirements, you are entitled to obtain a license to carry a concealed pistol (CPL). An applicant for a Michigan CPL must:

  1. Be at least 21 years of age.
  2. Be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted into the United States.
  3. Be a legal resident of Michigan and reside in Michigan for at least six-months immediately prior to application.  An applicant is a resident of Michigan if one of the following applies: possesses a valid Michigan driver’s license or official personal identification card or is lawfully registered to vote in Michigan.

Note: The county clerk shall waive the six-month residency requirement: for an emergency license, if the applicant is a petitioner for a personal protection order or the county sheriff determines that there is clear and convincing evidence to believe that the safety of the applicant or the safety of a member of the applicant’s family or household is endangered by the applicant’s inability to immediately obtain a license to carry a concealed pistol.

  1. Successfully completing an appropriate pistol safety training course or class.
  2. Not be subject to an order or disposition for any of the following:
  • Involuntary hospitalization or involuntary alternative treatment.
  • Legal incapacitation.
  • Personal protection order.
  • Bond or conditional release prohibiting purchase or possession of a firearm.
  • Finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.
  1. Not be prohibited from possessing, using, transporting, selling, purchasing, carrying, shipping, receiving, or distributing a firearm under MCL 750.224f.
  2. Have never been convicted of a felony in Michigan or elsewhere, and a felony charge against the applicant is not pending in Michigan or elsewhere at the time he or she applies for a CPL.
  3. Have not been dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.

Gun rights impacted by misdemeanor and felony convictions

 Pursuant to Michigan and federal law, you cannot own or possess any firearm (pistol or rifle) with any felony conviction. If you are charged with a felony, getting a felony criminal defense lawyer to fight the case is the key to preserving your Second Amendment rights. Misdemeanor convictions are a problem for a person trying to get a CPL. The right to obtain a CPL is denied 3 to 8 years upon conviction of selected misdemeanors.  Misdemeanor representation is crucial if you are charged with a misdemeanor under state law or local ordinance and you value your criminal record and/or CPL rights. There are many ways that a criminal defense lawyer can fight to save your record and gun rights. MCL

-8-year period of denial misdemeanors: A person convicted of any of the following common offenses is required to wait eight (8) years before applying for a CPL:

  • MCL 257.617a, failing to stop when involved in a personal injury accident
  • MCL 257.625, operating while intoxicated punishable as a second offense
  • MCL 257.626, reckless driving
  • MCL 257.904(1), DWLS punishable as a second offense
  • MCL 750.81, assault or domestic assault
  • MCL 750.81a(1) or (2), aggravated assault or aggravated domestic assault
  • MCL 750.115, breaking and entering or entering without breaking
  • MCL 750.136b(7), fourth-degree child abuse
  • MCL 750.226a, sale or possession of a switchblade
  • MCL 750.227c, improper transporting or possessing a loaded firearm in or upon a vehicle
  • MCL 750.232, failure to register the purchase of a firearm or a firearm component
  • MCL 750.232a, improperly obtaining a pistol, making a false statement on an application to purchase a pistol,
  • MCL 750.233, intentionally pointing or aiming a firearm without malice
  • MCL 750.234, discharging a firearm while intentionally aimed without malice
  • MCL 750.234d, possessing a firearm on prohibited premises
  • MCL 750.234e, brandishing a firearm in public
  • MCL 750.234f, possession of a firearm in public by an individual less than 18 years of age
  • MCL 750.235, discharging a firearm pointed or aimed intentionally without malice causing injury
  • MCL 750.237, possessing or discharging a firearm while under the influence
  • MCL 750.237a, weapon-free school zone violation
  • MCL 750.335a, indecent exposure
  • MCL 750.411h, stalking
  • MCL 750.520e, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct
  • MCL 752.861, careless, reckless, or negligent use of a firearm resulting in injury or death
  • MCL 752.862, careless, reckless, or negligent use of a firearm resulting in property damage
  • MCL 752.863a, reckless discharge of a firearm

-3-year period of denial misdemeanors:  A person convicted of any of the following common offenses is required to wait eight (8) years before applying for a CPL:

  • MCL 257.625, operating while intoxicated, visibly impaired, under 21 years of age with any bodily alcohol content, or with any presence of a Schedule 1 controlled substance or cocaine
  • MCL 257.625a, refusal of commercial motor vehicle operator to submit to a preliminary chemical breath test
  • MCL 257.625k, ignition interlock device reporting violation
  • MCL 257.625l, circumventing or tampering with an ignition interlocking device
  • MCL 333.7401 to 333.7461, controlled substance violation
  • MCL 750.167, disorderly person
  • MCL 750.174, embezzlement
  • MCL 750.218, false pretenses with intent to defraud or cheat
  • MCL 750.356, larceny
  • MCL 750.356d, retail fraud second or third degree
  • MCL 750.359, larceny from vacant structure or building
  • MCL 750.362, larceny by conversion
  • MCL 750.362a, refuse or neglect to return vehicle, trailer, or other tangible property delivered on a rental or lease basis with intent to defraud the lessor
  • MCL 750.377a, malicious destruction of personal property
  • MCL 750.380, malicious destruction of real property
  • MCL 750.535, receiving, possessing or concealing stolen, embezzled, or converted property
  • MCL 750.540e, malicious use of service provided by telecommunications service provider

Additional misdemeanors that will result in CPL denial periods are listed at MCL 28.425b.

Pistol Free Zones

Pursuant to  MCL 28.425o, it is illegal for a person with a CPL to carry a pistol at the following places:

  • School property except while dropping off or picking up a student.
  • Day care center, child caring agency, or public or private child placing agency,
  • Sports arena or stadium,
    A tavern where the primary source of income is the sale of alcoholic liquor by the glass consumed on the premises,
  • Any property or facility owned or operated by a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other place of worship, unless the presiding official allows concealed weapons.
  • An entertainment facility that has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more,
  • Hospital,
  • Dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university,
  • Casino

Furthermore, per Administrative Order 2001-1 of the Michigan Supreme Court:

  • “Weapons are not permitted in any courtroom, office, or other space used for official court business or by judicial employees unless the chief judge or other person designated by the chief judge has given prior approval consistent with the court’s written policy.”

The following penalties may also be imposed for carrying a concealed weapon in a pistol free zone:

  • First offense:  State Civil Infraction, $500 fine, CPL permit suspended 6 months
  • Second offense:  90-day misdemeanor, $1000 fine, CPL permit revoked
  • Third and subsequent offenses:  4-year felony, $5000 fine, CPL permit revoked

Declaring your CPL when confronted or pulled over by the police

Pursuant to MCL 28.425f, an individual that is licensed to carry a concealed weapon shall carry his or her CPL and state issued driver license or personal identification card while carrying a concealed weapon. Upon being confronted (pulled over, etc.), the individual carrying a concealed pistol shall show both pieces of identification to the peace officer and IMMEDIATELY disclose that he or she is carrying a concealed pistol on his or her person or in his or her vehicle.  The penalty for lack of identification is a state civil infraction. The penalty for failing to immediately disclose (carrying a firearm) is civil infraction subject to the following:

  • For a first offense, by a fine of $500.00 and by the individual’s license to carry a concealed pistol being suspended for 6 months.
  • For a subsequent offense within 3 years of a prior offense, by a fine of $1,000.00 and by the individual’s license to carry a concealed pistol being revoked.

Brandishing a firearm

CPL holders need to know that a firearm should not be produced unless absolutely necessary and in justifiable self-defense. Brandishing a firearm is a crime that involves production of a firearm for the purpose of intimidation but does not amount to aiming or an assault crime. MCL 750.234e, provides that a person shall not willfully and knowingly brandish a firearm in public, subject to the following exceptions:

  • A peace officer lawfully performing his or her duties as a peace officer.
  • A person lawfully acting in self-defense or defense of another under the self-defense act.

The federal definition of brandishing is as follows:  to display all or part of the firearm, or otherwise make the presence of the firearm known to another person, in order to intimidate that person, regardless of whether the firearm is directly visible to that person.

Brandishing a firearm is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or a fine of not more than $100.00, or both. In addition, a person convicted of brandishing will be denied the right to apply for a CPL for 8 years.

It is a good practice to be a private person about your firearms and your CPL. Don’t flaunt your firearm or show off.  Once a person knows that you have a firearm, it is very easy to be accused of brandishing or some other crime that can jeopardize your record and your rights. Unfortunately, fighting a lie or proving a negative is not the easiest thing to do.

Continue reading ›

CCW-IMAGE

Michigan citizens are serious about their Second Amendment firearm gun rights

We are living in an unprecedented time. On top of the Covid-19 global pandemic, there are racial tensions, social unrest, unemployment, pandemic lockdown measures, social isolation and tumultuous politics. All of this friction is making people feel nervous, frustrated and afraid. There are conspiracy theories and fears that the election may bring about stricter gun laws. People are arming themselves in record numbers to feel safe.

Michigan Firearm Carry Laws

In the State of Michigan, it is always legal for an individual to keep a firearm at his or her residence and place of business. However, carrying a concealed weapon without a CPL in a motor vehicle, or other place outside of the home or business, is a felony that can carry 5 years in prison. Here are the basic rules in Michigan regarding open and concealed carrying of a firearm:

Open Carry: In Michigan, it is legal for a person to carry a firearm in public (open carry) as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed. You will not find a law that states it is legal to openly carry a firearm. It is legal because there is no Michigan law that prohibits it; however, Michigan law limits the premises on which a person may carry a firearm. There is no such right to “open carry” a firearm in a motor vehicle unless it is being lawfully transported.

Carrying a Concealed Weapon: You may conceal-carry a pistol in a motor vehicle and non-restricted places with a Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL) but it is a serious felony to carry a concealed weapon without a CPL.

-Concealed Defined: The carrying of a pistol in a holster or belt outside the clothing is not considered carrying a concealed weapon. However, carrying a pistol under a coat is carrying a concealed weapon. Attorney General Opinion 1945, O-3158. According to the Court of Appeals a weapon is concealed if it is not observed by those casually observing the suspect as people do in the ordinary course and usual associations of life. People v. Reynolds, 38 Mich App. 159 (1970).

Transporting a pistol without a CPL: You may transport a pistol in a motor vehicle without a CPL if it is being transported for a lawful purpose and according to strict requirements (unloaded, separated from ammo and occupants).

MCL 750.227 is the Michigan Statute which makes it a felony to carry a concealed weapon:  A person shall not carry a pistol concealed on or about his or her person, or, whether concealed or otherwise, in a vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business, or on other land possessed by the person, without a license to carry the pistol as provided by law and if licensed, shall not carry the pistol in a place or manner inconsistent with any restrictions upon such license. A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,500.00.

Transporting a Firearm in a Motor Vehicle

Michigan law details how firearms may be transported in a vehicle. MCL 750.227c and MCL 750.227d discuss the transportation of firearms, other than pistols, in vehicles. It is a felony for a person without a CPL to transport a pistol  in a motor vehicle. MCL 750.231.a provides the exceptions to this rule. In general, the statute allows for transportation of a pistol for a lawful purpose which includes going to or from any of the following:

  • A hunting or target area
  • A place of repair
  • Moving goods from a home or business to another home or business
  • A law enforcement agency for a safety inspection or to turn the pistol over to the police
  • A gun show or place of sale or purchase
  • A public shooting facility
  • Public land where shooting is legal
  • Private property where a pistol may be lawfully used

Properly transporting a pistol requires that it be unloaded, kept in closed case designed for firearms, and in the trunk or not be readily accessible to the occupants if the vehicle does not have a trunk. There is no way to “open carry” a pistol in a vehicle. An individual, without a CPL or who transports a pistol in a vehicle without having a lawful purpose as stated above, may be in violation of MCL 750.227, the carrying concealed weapons statute.

Macomb County & Metro Detroit: Record gun sales in 2020

According to FBI data, 27 million guns, a record number, were sold in the United States in 2016. According to a CNN article, it expected that the gun sales record of 2016 will be broken before the end of this year. In September alone there was a 61% increase in gun sales from the same month in 2019. Gun retailers and industry analysts say its normal for Americans to stock up on firearms and ammo during an election year. According to the analysts, the surge is motivated by fears that a Democratic president might expand restrictions on gun ownership. But this year’s sales spike is different because it’s being driven by a rise in first-time gun buyers, especially among African Americans and women.  Macomb County is mirroring the national trend with gun and ammunition sales up sharply in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic and other concerns.

Felony conviction precludes possession or ownership of a firearm

CCW is classified as a felony. Pursuant to federal laws, a person convicted of a felony loses Second Amendment rights and cannot own or possess a firearm. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon carries up to ten (10) years in prison.

If you are charged with CCW in the counties of Macomb, Oakland or Wayne, then you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer for felony representation to help you avoid a felony and retain your Second Amendment rights as is explained in more detail below.

Other Common Crimes Involving Firearms

A felony conviction means never being able to own a gun without restoring gun rights after a ten (10) year waiting period. Misdemeanor offenses do not preclude gun ownership or possession. However, most misdemeanor convictions will result in denial of CPL privileges for up to eight (8) years.

The following is a list of common firearm crimes that we are seeing in Metro Detroit (counties of Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair):

  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Assault with a dangerous weapon
  • Carrying a concealed weapon in a motor vehicle
  • Brandishing a firearm
  • Reckless discharge of a firearm

It is illegal to own or possess a firearm if you get any type of felony conviction. If you have a CPL and get a misdemeanor conviction, you face denial of your CPL privileges for several years.

Avoiding a felony record is the only way to retain your gun rights

In 2019, there were a total of 5,810 incidents of felony CCW reported in the State of Michigan and several thousands of other crimes related to firearms. Get a local criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with CCW or any other felony in any city or township in Macomb County, Oakland County or Wayne County.

Depending upon the prior criminal record of the offender and the circumstances of each case, there is a strong possibility of avoiding a felony conviction. Even those with a criminal record, can ask for a deviation to get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor.

In Macomb County, the prosecuting attorney’s office has a protocol in negotiating a felony charge to a misdemeanor or under a special provision of law which can result in a dismissal. The Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney has authority over felony matters in the following courts:

In Wayne County, the prosecuting attorney’s office has a specially assigned attorney known as a “diversion attorney”.  Diversion is a special status which can be assigned to a file that can result in NO entry of guilt and a complete dismissal at the end of a designated period of time. The file is essentially “diverted” from the criminal system.

Continue reading ›

Eminem-Mugshot-e1603132858623

With over 50 years of combined criminal defense experience, ABDO LAW specializes in expunging and setting aside prior convictions for all folks eligible across Michigan. Historically, criminal records have held many Michiganders in perpetual poverty. Contrarily, successful expungement proceedings have created economic opportunity and full participation in Michigan’s economy and society for clients of ABDO LAW.

According to a 2020 Harvard Law Review article, only 6.5% of those legally eligible for an expungement in Michigan obtain it within 5 years of eligibility. Moreover, those who successfully obtain an expungement / set aside a conviction experience a substantial increase in their wage and employment trajectories. On average, within 1 year, wages go up by over 22% versus the pre-expungement trajectory.

Deep within Abdo Law’s core values are closely held beliefs that people deserve 2nd chances, people are able to change for the better, and the law is alive to accommodate personal and societal changes. With a 100% success rate, expungement proceedings are one way in which Abdo Law lives out their core beliefs.

41B-District-Court-Clinton-Township-Michigan-1

GET A SECOND CHANCE: Dismissal of Retail Fraud in the 41B District Court

The 41B District Court is located at 22380 Starks Drive, Clinton Township, Michigan, 48038. This Court has jurisdiction which encompasses the geographic areas of Clinton Township, Harrison Township and Mount Clemens. It is trial court with full authority to handle all misdemeanor proceedings. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that carries up to 1 year in jail but does not carry prison time. The 41B District Court also handles felony cases from the early stages of arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination.

The 41B District Court region is densely populated with big name national retailers (Walmart, Target, Lowes, CVS), retail strip centers and the Partridge Creek Mall which opened in 2007. This publication is about the crime of retail fraud (shoplifting) cases and how to get a positive result in the 41B District Court system.

Getting charged with retail fraud looks bad and sounds worse and is very embarrassing. Most of our clients charged with retail fraud are good people that have contributed to society and are afraid of being labeled a  thief. In general, many of our clients express a personal problem by engaging in retail fraud and just need a wake up call. We have practiced criminal law extensively in the 41B District Court and have practiced longer than most law firms in Macomb County and Metro Detroit. I can say that in my nearly 40 years of practicing in this district, the 41B District is a court where the judges will give offenders a second chance as I will explain in this publication.

Penalties for Retail Fraud Depend on Prior Record of Offender and the Value of Property Involved

In Michigan, the crime of shoplifting is prosecuted as an offense known as “retail fraud“.  Retail fraud crimes are classified according to degree based upon the value of property or money attempted to be misappropriated. An offense can also be enhanced to a higher degree if the offender has a past record for retail fraud.

  • 1st Degree Retail Fraud, Felony: Maximum Penalty: Up to 5 years in prison, $10,000.00 fine, court costs. Value of Property or Money: $1,000.00 or more
  • 2nd Degree Retail Fraud: Misdemeanor: Maximum Penalty: 1 year jail, $2,000.00 fine, court costs. Value of Property or Money: $200.00 but less than $1,000.00
  • 3rd Degree Retail Fraud: Misdemeanor: Maximum Penalty: 93 days jail, $500.00 fine, court costs.  Value of Property or Money: Under $200.00

Triple Penalty: In addition to the above penalties, the court has the option to  impose a fine, or a penalty up to 3x the amount of property or money attempted to be misappropriated, whichever is greater.

Civil Demand Letter: Don’t be surprised if you get a letter with a demand for civil restitution soon after being charged with retail fraud. The criminal retail fraud matter will not be dropped just because this amount is paid. The civil demand for money and the criminal proceedings are separate and distinct matters.

Retail Fraud 3rd Degree is Most Common: Concealment, Altering Labels, Failing to Scan at Checkout

The offense of Retail Fraud 3rd Degree is the most common form of shoplifting which means that the amount or value of the property attempted to be taken without authority is under the value of $200.00. Retail fraud can be committed in many ways including by:

  • Concealment of merchandise
  • Altering labels or misrepresenting the price
  • Returning stolen merchandise
  • Attempting to defeat self checkout barcode scanned

If you find yourself in this position, stop worrying and thinking that you are a bad person. We have represented people from all walks of life that have never been trouble but get caught committing a petty theft offense and are required to deal with the court system for the first time ever. Don’t attempt to represent yourself unless you are 100% sure that you know how to deal with a Macomb County Prosecutor or city attorney assigned to the case. In addition, you will be judicially interrogated at some point in time. Saying the wrong thing can result in the case being scheduled for a jury trial and missing an opportunity to get out of the system. There are also proactive moves that can made to get the best possible outcome and reduce your time in the 41B District Court system. We can explain how to keep your record clean of any theft related offense even if you tell us that you are guilty of the crime. Our goals are always the same: AVOID CONVICTION & AVOID HARSH PENALTIES!

But I Didn’t Intend to Steal Anything and I had the Money in My Purse or Wallet to Pay…

We hear it all the time and so do the judges that preside over retail fraud cases: “I didn’t intend to steal anything, it was a mistake” and “why would I need to shoplift something when I had the money in my pocket or purse to pay for it.” Don’t fool yourself into believing that you can win your case with these assertions. Again, saying the wrong thing in the courtroom can get you stuck in system and lead to a devastating irreversible guilty verdict. You may be eligible to get the case dismissed without trial even if you are guilty. 

Getting Out of the System with a Delayed Sentence and Dismissal!

If you are caught shoplifting, getting a skilled Macomb County criminal defense lawyer with experience handling retail fraud cases in the 41B District Court is is the right move if you want a shot at getting a second chance. Again, the 41B District Court has jurisdiction over matters that occur in Clinton Township, Mount Clemens and Harrison Township. As I have mentioned, it is important to know how to approach these matters with the prosecuting attorney and the judge. In other words, we will protect you from drawing attention to negative aspects of your case. Being successful in the majority of these cases means that we know how to identify a client with the prosecutor and the judge as an “isolated offender’. In doing so, we are able to get  a dismissal of the offense after a period of probation under a special provision of law (MCL 771.1) known as a delayed sentence.  There are also other possible results which include dismissals pursuant to HYTA for youthful offenders or amending the offense to a non-theft infraction. Once a case is resolved or dismissed, the offender can obtain an official copy of the resolution or dismissal from the court. Legal proceedings have a way of following a person and getting solid proof of the disposition from the court is the best way to avoid misunderstandings and possible future complications associated with the underlying case.

Continue reading ›

sheriff-macomb-county-c46c28c5-5603-4973-a912-9d5a38e2cc71

A traffic crash is a traumatic event. Fear and panic are just a few reasons why a driver might leave the scene of an accident. Other reasons are usually based upon legal predicaments such as being intoxicated, driving on a suspended license, facing a parole or probation violation or driving without insurance.  

Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Michigan

In Michigan, traffic offenses can be charged as civil infractions or as crimes. The offense of leaving the scene of an accident (aka: failing to give identification at the scene of a crash) is charged as a crime in Michigan. Along with drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident is also one of the most prevalent misdemeanor cases that is charged in Macomb County. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime that can carry jail, a fine, court costs and 6 points. Leaving the scene of an accident causing an injury is more serious than leaving the scene of an accident causing only property damage. Leaving the scene of an accident cannot be expunged and will have a huge impact on future insurance premiums. A criminal record can lead to jeopardize personal rights  such as right to travel into Canada or right to obtain a concealed permit to carry a handgun/CPL. A criminal offense or pattern of criminal behavior can also lead to deportation for non-US citizens. Pleading guilty to the offense of leaving the scene of an accident without a lawyer is a sure way to wind up with major regrets. In this publication, and others (Hiring a Lawyer to Fight Your Traffic Ticket: A Wise Long Term Investment), we explain why you should be proactive and get a lawyer if you are facing any criminal or non-criminal offense.

We have extensive experience handling misdemeanor and felony criminal and traffic matters in every Macomb County District Court:

Based upon our experience, we are providing you with this publication and information regarding the offense of “leaving the scene of an accident”.

Duties following an accident

A driver’s duties following an accident are set forth in MCL 257.619.

The driver of a vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he or she has been involved in an accident with an individual or with another vehicle that is operated or attended by another individual shall do all of the following:

  (a) Give his or her name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is operating, including the name and address of the owner, to a police officer, the individual struck, or the driver or occupants of the vehicle with which he or she has collided.
  (b) Exhibit his or her operator’s or chauffeur’s license to a police officer, individual struck, or the driver or occupants of the vehicle with which he or she has collided.
  (c) Render to any individual injured in the accident reasonable assistance in securing medical aid or arrange for or provide transportation to any injured individual.

Failing to comply with these duties or failing to stop and give identification at the scene of a crash or leaving the scene of an accident can result in criminal penalties along with administrative sanctions which are imposed by the Michigan Secretary of State.

Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident 

Jail-time, losing your license, insurance issues and getting stuck in the court system for up to 2 years while on probation are all possible penalties for leaving the scene of an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident causing a personal injury can carry up to 1 year in jail.
Subject to a few exceptions, it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident. MCL 257.618 provides as follows:
(1) The driver of a vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he has been involved in an accident upon public or private property that is open to travel by the public shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall remain there until the requirements of section 619 are fulfilled or immediately report the accident to the nearest or most convenient police agency or officer to fulfill the requirements of section 619(a) and (b) if there is a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the scene will result in further harm. The stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(2) If an individual violates the requirements of subsection (1) and the accident results in damage to a vehicle operated by or attended by any individual, the individual is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $100.00, or both.
Contacting a Macomb County criminal defense lawyer should be your first order of business if you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident or if you expect to be charged, have abandoned your vehicle or otherwise fled from the scene of an accident. It is a defense to this crime if a person was not aware that an accident occurred or remaining at the scene will result in further harm or obstruct traffic more than is necessary.

Driving off after accident, leaving disabled vehicle at the scene

The police are not stupid. When the police find a disabled and abandoned vehicle that is not being claimed until the next day, they are automatically suspicious that the driver was drunk, left the scene to avoid being tested for alcohol and waited to claim the vehicle until after alcohol levels dropped below the legal limit for DUI. The police will typically put a hold on the vehicle until it is claimed and a statement is made by the owner/driver. This is where most think that they will beat the system by claiming that the vehicle was stolen or that is was taken by some unknown person that they met during the prior evening. Believe me, we have seen it all and so have the police. Contacting the police before retaining a lawyer in this scenario is a big mistake. It is far better to let the lawyer do damage control and do all of the talking rather than get caught lying to the police and charged with filing a false police report which may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending upon the circumstances.

Some other actual examples of cases where the police have caught someone leaving the scene of an accident:

  • Police follow trail of leaking transmission fluid leading to the vehicle involved in an accident.
  • Police follow snow tracks in a subdivision to the home where the vehicle was driven following an accident.
  • Police obtain plate number from a witness at the scene of an accident.

Leaving the scene to avoid getting charged with drunk driving

Rather than get charged with drunk driving, an intoxicated person may choose to leave the scene of an accident and deal with the aftermath once sobriety is established. This all becomes an extremely frustrating experience for the offender which involves lies to family members, the police and the insurance company along with implicating friends that may be questioned in the future. Drunk driving is not the only reason that is given as the reason for leaving the scene of an accident. Other common reasons include driving with no insurance, driving while license suspended or because of an outstanding arrest warrant. Let us help you get your life under control if you have left the scene of an accident. DO NOT call the police and your insurance company and say that your car has been stolen. You will merely be exposing yourself to a felony charge and be asked to give more information such as the names of people that were with you and whether you consumed alcohol.

Leaving the scene and fleeing the police

The offense of leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor. If leaving the scene also involves a police chase, the offender faces more serious charges known as fleeing and eluding which constitutes a felony.

What to do if you are charged or have left the scene

If you have received a citation for leaving the scene of an accident, contact a lawyer for representation in the court system. If you freaking out after leaving the scene of an accident and haven’t been caught yet, contact a lawyer to help you sort it out and establish a plan to cover the following matters:

  • Whether or not you should talk to the police.
  • Whether you should file an insurance claim.
  • How the accident is reported to the insurance company.
  • Getting your car out of the impound.
  • Dealing with the court system (arraignment, bond, pretrial conference, trial).

NO, our attorneys will not tell the police that you were high or drunk the night before. We will give you a solid plan to deal with the police and the insurance company without ever getting charged with a DUI.

Continue reading ›

George-Floyd

Minneapolis police officer shown kneeling on George Floyd’s neck as Floyd pleaded for help.

Imaginary lines in space decide many of the rights and obligations of American life. These boundary lines have tremendous effects on our sense of self and to whom we feel connected. Far more than just emotional and psychological consequences flow from where we live and how we identify. (Read Democratic Education and Local School Governance.) In America, geography and identity determine one’s legal power and opportunity.

3 recently recorded incidents of unarmed black men being ridiculed or killed in America have surfaced online and sent communities across both coasts pleading for justice.  The unfortunate stories of Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, and George Floyd during COVID provides powerful tools for Americans to reflect on our interconnectedness with fellow Americans from different backgrounds and geography.

 

ABDO-LAW-CY-MATT-JOE-AT-41A

Crime Classifications/Misdemeanor or Felony

In Michigan, crimes are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. The maximum term of incarceration determines whether a crime is classified as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor is defined as a crime that carries 1 year or less in jail. A felony is defined as a crime that carries more than 1 year, up to life, in prison. Felony representation link.

There are hundreds of offenses that are classified as misdemeanors in Michigan. In our experience, the following are the most prevalent misdemeanor crimes that you will find on the dockets of Metro Detroit (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb) district courts:

Each of the above offenses constitutes a crime. Upon conviction, the offense will appear on a person’s permanent public criminal history with the Michigan State Police and the FBI. With some exceptions, most misdemeanors are eligible for expungement.

Our research indicates that there are several thousand arrests in Michigan for misdemeanor offenses. Drunk Driving cases account for roughly 10,000 arrests each year in the Counties of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne. Retail fraud and larceny crimes are also extremely common criminal offenses. In 2018, approximately 20,000 property crimes were reported in Macomb County alone. Property crimes include retail fraud, MDOP, other larceny crimes, joyriding and embezzlement.

Certain misdemeanor offenses may be more prevalent in a particular geographical area because of specific police activity. For example the following criminal offenses are targeted by the police and thus more prevalent in these areas:

Macomb County District Courts

We have dedicated this  article to give you the big picture on the topic of misdemeanors in Macomb County. This project is based upon our experience handling more than 10,000 criminal cases in Michigan. Misdemeanor cases are handled in the local district courts for each county. The district court system in Michigan is broken down based upon population. This map illustrates the jurisdictional picture of the district court system in Macomb County where misdemeanor cases are adjudicated:

District-Courts-Macomb-Map

The list below contains links to the district courts located in Macomb County:

Penalties  and Consequences for Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are extremely serious matters. The presiding district court judge has vast power to sentence an individual following a conviction for a misdemeanor. The list of potential penalties and consequences for a misdemeanor conviction are as follows:

  • Jail: Up to 1 year incarceration.
  • Fine, court costs and cost of prosecution in the judge’s discretion.
  • No limit on restitution for any loss, injury or damage to victim(s) or third parties such as insurance companies.
  • Probation for up to two (2) years.
  • Probation for up to five (5) years for stalking.
  • Substance abuse counseling, attendance of AA meetings.
  • GPS monitoring (in cases such as stalking).
  • Loss of right to obtain a concealed pistol license (CPL) for a period of 3 years or 8 years, depending upon the offense.
  • Suspension or revocation of driver’s license for traffic misdemeanors and OWI.
  • Points added to your driving record for traffic misdemeanors and OWI.
  • No contact order as a bond condition and during the entire period of probation.
  • Alcohol and drug test testing as a bond condition and during the entire period of probation.
  • Travel restrictions as a bond condition and during entire period of probation.
  • Reporting to a probation officer at intervals to be determined by the judge.
  • Deportation for non-US citizens upon conviction of misdemeanors that constitute crimes of moral turpitude.

Getting an experienced criminal defense attorney can be the best decision that you can make if you are charged with a misdemeanor. There may be ways to avoid a conviction altogether, have the offense reduced or amended and avoid many of the penalties and consequences as listed above.

Getting a Misdemeanor Case Under Control

A misdemeanor needs to be taken seriously. Fortunately, there are distinct provisions of law in Michigan designated to obtain a dismissal of a misdemeanor without going to trial. These provisions of law afford an individual a chance to get a criminal charge dropped after completing a period of probation and complying with the terms of probation. The following is a list of provisions used extensively in every Macomb County Court with links for expanded explanations:

  • HYTA: Cases accepted pursuant to HYTA status enable youthful offenders (age 17 but under age 24) to get a criminal offense (felony or misdemeanor) dismissed and sealed.
  • Dismissal of Drug Crimes: First time drug offenses involving use or possession, but not delivery, can be dismissed pursuant to application of MCL 333.7411.
  • Domestic Violence: A domestic violence charge can be dismissed upon use of MCL 769.4a in appropriate circumstances.
  • Deferral of Case or Delaying Sentence: MCL 771.1 is a special provision of law that can be utilized to get a criminal case under control by deferring the matter (for a later dismissal or reduction in the charge) or delaying the sentence (for leniency).

Although the above provisions are widely used and have enormous benefits, they are not without consequences. Once in the system for a criminal offense, a court file and police record are generated. Even if a case is later dismissed under a special provision of law, there can be a record floating around that should have been suppressed or sealed. In addition, there are always certain government and police agencies, along with other sensitive institutions, that are able to see every entry of a person’s record, even for matters that are dismissed under a special provision of law.  An experienced criminal defense lawyer can look for ways to strategically handle a criminal matter to get the most favorable resolution to avoid a trail of negative entries on a person’s record.

Retail Fraud/Shoplifting Can be Dismissed in Macomb County

Retail fraud is the name given for the crime of shoplifting in Michigan and it is always one of the most prevalent crimes that we see in every courtroom in Macomb County. The offense of retail fraud is committed by taking something from a retail establishment with the intent to steal. The crime is accomplished by the intentional concealment of goods, changing a price tag/package or by attempting to defeat the scanning process. Retail fraud is a serious crime and constitutes a crime of moral turpitude that will result in deportation for those that do not have United States citizenship. The penalty for retail fraud depends upon the value of the goods:

  • Retail Fraud First Degree (value of goods $1,000.00 or more): Felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
  • Retail Fraud Second Degree (value of goods $200.00 up to $1,000.00): Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
  • Retail Fraud Third Degree (value of goods up to $200.00): Misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail.

Virtually every major retailer (Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, Meijer, Sam’s Club) utilizes loss prevention employees to deter shoplifting and apprehend shoplifters. Once charged with this crime, an attorney’s services are crucial to find a way to avoid a conviction in the criminal justice system. First offenders almost always qualify for a plea bargain to get the matter deferred and dismissed. The terms of the probation can differ depending the court and whether the judge believes the offender needs to be supervised or non-supervised. Non US Citizens need to hire a lawyer to avoid a “theft” related conviction altogether to avoid deportation.

Avoiding Traffic Misdemeanors

Not all traffic offenses are created equal. Traffic offenses are classified as civil infractions or misdemeanors. Civil infractions, such as speeding, are considered less serious. Misdemeanor traffic offenses often carry greater points (6 in many cases), possible jail and appear on a person’s criminal record.  In Michigan, the following offenses are misdemeanors:

  • Reckless Driving
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident
  • Driving While License Suspended

We look for ways to reduce the impact of a traffic misdemeanors by scheduling a pretrial conference with the prosecutor to seek meaningful reductions. This often can result in a misdemeanor being reduced to a civil infraction thereby saving a person from having a criminal record. In addition, getting a traffic misdemeanor reduced to a lower offense can also result in meaningful reduction in points and insurance premium savings.

Operating While Intoxicated 

As we have said, Operating while Intoxicated (OWI) is always one of the most prevalent crimes on every district court docket. Like most people, you have probably not heard of the Michigan Drunk Driving Audit. The Michigan Drunk Driving Audit is a website which compiles detailed statistics regarding drunk cases based upon  information obtained from police agencies and courts. In 2018, there were approximately 2,200 individuals tested for drugs or alcohol and most resulting a criminal charge of operating while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. The statistics are further broken with details as to the number of individuals with a blood alcohol content of (BAC) of .17% or greater. In 2018, approximately 750 individuals in Macomb County that provided a test result were positive for alcohol at .17% or greater, constituting “Super Drunk Driving“.

There are many legal and technical aspects to a drunk driving case. At the very least, you probably have the following questions if you are facing a drunk driving offense:

  • Can the case be dismissed?
  • Can the charge be reduced?
  • Am I going to jail?
  • What will happen to my license?
  • Why did they destroy my license?
  • Was I required to give a blood test or take a breathalyzer test?
  • Can an attorney get the police in-car video and body-cam video? Continue reading ›

COVID-19-Advocates-scaled

Attorney Joseph Campbell wearing personal protective equipment while advocating in 41A District Court of Shelby Township for a client facing life in prison amidst global coronavirus pandemic.

From Washington D.C. to Washington Township, MI, the global coronavirus outbreak has triggered a state of emergency response nationwide. On March 10, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the closure of all K–12 school buildings statewide until April 5. Then, on March 16, Michigan bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, and other businesses were ordered to partially close for two weeks. Thereafter, events and gatherings of more than 50 people were banned from March 17 – April 5. Finally on March 24, Executive Order No. 2020-21, a statewide stay-at-home order was issued until April 13 for all Michiganders, limiting all non-essential travel and discontinuing all non-essential business services and operations. Among other things, Executive Order No. 2020-21, Michigan’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order directs all Michiganders to stay home except under very limited circumstances. 

Abdo Law encourages all Michigan residents to comply with the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order when leaving their residence, as failing to comply with Executive Order No. 2020-21 could result in a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail for each violation. Pursuant to Section 14, a willful violation of the Order will result in a criminal misdemeanor.  Section 14 cites to MCL 10.33 and MCL 30.405(3), which state, respectively:

EMERGENCY POWERS OF GOVERNOR (EXCERPT)

Act 302 of 1945; 10.33 Violation; misdemeanor.

Sec. 3. The violation of any such orders, rules and regulations made in conformity with this act shall be punishable as a misdemeanor, where such order, rule or regulation states that the violation thereof shall constitute a misdemeanor.

– – – – –

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ACT (EXCERPT)

Act 390 of 1976

(3) A person who willfully disobeys or interferes with the implementation of a rule, order, or directive issued by the governor pursuant to this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

– – – – –

What’s more, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel made a recent press release reminding residents that calls regarding failing to comply with the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order should go to local law enforcement. Michigan State Police and local police departments enforcement of complying with Executive Order No. 2020-21 have varied from asking drivers why they’re out in public to asking for proof of employment through an employee issued I.D. card, while other officers are going as far as following drivers to their stated location and citing criminal misdemeanors. On March 30, Michigan State Police stated via Twitter that they are not conducting random traffic stops and their troopers do not carry thermometers.

Over this past weekend, an unfortunate 1,000+ new confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in Michigan, with coronavirus cases now totaling 4,658 while our death toll has painfully risen to 111. Each of Metro Detroit’s tri-counties now has more than 500 coronavirus cases, with Wayne County at 938 cases, Oakland County at 1,018 cases, and Macomb County at 524 total cases.

Not much is clear at this point for the majority of Michiganders. We’ve been ordered to stay home. We’re even supposed to stay 6 feet away from those we live with. These are challenging times and every day is unprecedented. While we know the strength and grit of residents in Metro Detroit, we encourage community members to comply with our statewide stay-at-home order. COVID-19 does not discriminate and it is clearly deadly. Abdo Law respects and salutes Michigan’s first responders, grocers, and other critical infrastructure workers as they risk everything on a daily basis. Abdo Law asks individuals within Metro Detroit that maintain a healthy lifestyle to extend a helping hand for their neighbors with compromised conditions. Reach out and coordinate with elders in our community to retrieve grocery and other items necessary to sustain or protect their lives. 

Will Michigan families get together this Easter? If not together in person, will Easter dinner be shared with families over Facetime or Zoom together? We are optimistic while extent of impact and timeframe of COVID-19’s shutdown remains speculative for most of society. Undoubtedly, all persons throughout Michigan are impacted by the novel coronavirus. Listed below are helpful links and important exceptions to Executive Order No. 2020-21.

COVID-19, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control 

Michigan Executive Order 2020-21 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus – Critical Infrastructure Workers

Sunday, March 29: Latest developments on coronavirus in Michigan

 

Exceptions to Michigan’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ Executive Order No. 2020-21

  1. Individuals may leave their home or place of residence, and travel as necessary: 
  • To engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.
  • To perform their jobs as critical infrastructure workers after being so designated by their employers. (Critical infrastructure workers who need not be designated under section 5(a) may leave their home for work without a designation.)
  • To conduct minimum basic operations, as described in section 4(b), after being designated to perform such work by their employers.
  • To perform necessary government activities, as described in section 6.
  • To perform tasks that are necessary to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets). Individuals may, for example, leave the home or place of residence to secure medication or to seek medical or dental care that is necessary to address a medical emergency or to preserve the health and safety of a household or family member (including procedures that, in accordance with a duly implemented nonessential procedures postponement plan, have not been postponed).
  • To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves, their family or household members, and their vehicles. Individuals must secure such services or supplies via delivery to the maximum extent possible. As needed, however, individuals may leave the home or place of residence to purchase groceries, take-out food, gasoline, needed medical supplies, and any other products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and basic operation of their residences.
  • To care for a family member or a family member’s pet in another household.
  • To care for minors, dependents, the elderly, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
  • To visit an individual under the care of a health care facility, residential care facility, or congregate care facility, to the extent otherwise permitted.
  • To attend legal proceedings or hearings for essential or emergency purposes as ordered by a court.
  • To work or volunteer for businesses or operations (including both and religious and secular nonprofit organizations) that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, individuals who need assistance as a result of this emergency, and people with disabilities.
  • Individuals may also travel: 
  1. To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state. 
  2. To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
  3. To travel between two residences in this state. 

Continue reading ›

 

Warren-Police-cars-full.jpg

What you can expect if you are involved in a criminal, drunk driving or traffic matter in the Cities of Warren & Centerline

Our publications explore criminal and drunk driving issues within the realm of our law firm’s expertise. We have the distinction of practicing criminal law longer than most other Macomb County lawyers. This publication is about the 37th District Court where we regularly provide legal services to our clients charged with criminal matters, (misdemeanors and felonies), drug crimes, drunk driving and traffic tickets.

Locations of the 37th District Court 

The 37th District Court has two locations which are located in the cities of Centerline and Warren. The jurisdictional boundaries of these Courts cover 36 square miles (from 8 Mile Road to 14 Mile Road and from Hayes to Dequindre). The Centerline and Warren Police Departments, as well as the Michigan State Police, patrol the streets and major roads within the boundaries of the 37th District Court; including I-696, Dequinder, Ryan, Van Dyke, Schoenherr, Hayes and 8 Mile).  The City of Warren is also home to many industrial centers, the General Motors Tech Center, automobile dealers,  restaurants, bars and retail establishments.

  • Warren Location: 8300 Common Road, Warren, MI 48093, Phone: 586-574-4910
  • Centerline Location: 7070 E. Ten Mile Road, Centerline, MI 48015, Phone: 586-757-8333

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 impressive detective bureau, helicopter unit, motorcycle and traffic patrol squad. The detective bureau has a drug enforcement team, as well as other units, which engage in various undercover operations.  The drug enforcement unit keeps close tabs on its 8 Mile Border and regularly arrests individuals that are caught returning to Warren after buying drugs (heroin) in the City of Detroit.  The Michigan State Police also have a presence in Warren as the law enforcement entity responsible for patrolling I-696 expressway.

Dismissals of criminal cases in the 37th District Court!

The 37th District Court has 4 elected judges. Each judge rotates once per month to preside over the Centerline caseload. As experienced criminal defense attorneys in Macomb County, I can say that all of the judges are extremely fair. They are judges that will listen to arguments and fairly dispose of criminal, drunk driving, drug and traffic cases. In my opinion, the 37th District Court is a court with a philosophy of rehabilitation, rather than a direct line to incarceration, and eligible offenders are given a second chance.

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 37th District Court. The following is list of some of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on the 37th District Court dockets in both Centerline and Warren:

Getting out on bond, bond conditions

The 37th District Court is notorious for setting high bonds on individuals charged with a felony.  It is also a court that gets more drug cases than any other district court within Macomb County and the judges do not hesitate to set high bonds for those charged with minor drug crimes!  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at arraignment by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. Most judges will listen to an attorney’s remarks regarding bond which can save potentially thousands of dollars that a bondsman would otherwise cost.  In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions upon a person’s release from jail including the following:

  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • GPS monitoring (sex crimes, violent crimes)
  • A ‘no-contact order‘ (assault, domestic violence, retail fraud)

A motion for a hearing can always be filed to modify bond conditions, remove a no-contact order or eliminate travel restrictions.

Misdemeanor or Felony Classification

In Michigan, the district courts have full jurisdiction to dispose of misdemeanors through sentencing. A misdemeanor is classified as an offense that carries up to 1 year in jail.  Felony cases are another matter. A felony is classified as a crime that can carry more than 1 year in jail. A felony case is initiated in the district court for the arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination. A felony that is not resolved in the district court will be moved to the circuit court for further proceedings. In certain cases, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor and can remain in the district court. Accomplishing reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor, thus avoiding a felony conviction, is considered a huge victory.

The outcome of a criminal case in the 37th District Court, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many circumstances.  The most significant factors that can have an impact on a case are:

  • The prior criminal record of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police (no resistance or difficulty at the time of arrest).
  • Whether another party was injured.
  • Whether the accused party can provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children).

In our experience, criminal cases can be resolved favorably at the 37th District Court. Whenever possible, the judges will accept dispositions to allow an offender the opportunity to get a dismissal under these special provisions of law: HYTA for youthful offenders (age 17 to 23), MCL 333.7411 for first time drug offenders and MCL 769.a for domestic violence. The court will also utilize a provision of law known as a deferral or delayed sentence which allows an offender leniency or a dismissal after a period of probation. Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration for plea deals to get a dismissal under certain circumstances.

Drunk Driving Cases in the 37th District Court: 164 DUI cases in 2019

The highways and roads within the jurisdiction of 37th District Court are well traveled. They are used to cross town from the northern suburbs to the City of Detroit and to travel from the east side to the west side. Within its boundaries, there is an abundance of traffic associated with the I-696 expressway, the automotive industry and retail establishments. Heavy traffic volume is the reason that we see so many drunk driving cases within the 37th District Court. In 2019, Warren and Centerline administered a total of 164 breath and blood tests for individuals charged with drunk driving or drugged driving. Over 59 of the test results registered a blood alcohol content of .17 or greater to support a charge of ‘Super DUI‘ or operating with a high BAC (.17 or greater).

Statistically, more than 90% of drunk driving cases do not go to trial and are resolved negotiating and entering into a plea bargain. Plea bargains can mean getting a better deal without spending thousands of dollars on trial. However, there are many aspects of a drunk driving case that must be done according to administrative rules and going to trial is encouraged if the police screwed up and we have a chance of getting a not guilty verdict before a jury.

First Time Drunk Driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 37thDistrict Courts. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

  • Probation for 1 year or less
  • Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
  • Restricted license for 90 days
  • Attend an alcohol or substance abuse program (discretionary)
  • Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings (discretionary)
  • 4 points on driving record

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain for a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, not just a Super DUI.

Repeat DUI Offender: A repeat drinking and driving offender may be looking at a longer period of probation, up to 2 years, with the possibility of some jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in almost every court.

Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison.  Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation ONLY if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. Click here for more information on felony procedure.

Drug Crimes in the City of Warren

There are more drug crimes in the City of Warren that wind up in the 37th District Court than in any other court located in Macomb County. In my opinion, many factors contribute to the high number of drug crimes in the City of Warren including an aggressive police department and surveillance of drug activity coming from Detroit.  In fact, there are more crimes consistently reported in the City of Warren for larceny, retail fraud and assaults than in other Macomb County courts. In 2019, there were a total of 8,801 crimes reported in the City of Warren compared to 4,660 reported in the neighboring City of Sterling Heights. Both cities are approximately 36 square miles each.

More than ever, our clients are benefiting from aggressive legal representation to avoid felony convictions for drug crimes. In addition, the courts are more willing to utilize therapeutic rehabilitative measures, rather than punitive measures, as a means to sentence drug users.

37th District Court Probation Department: 8300 Common Road, Warren, Michigan 48093

The 37th District Court  has its own probation department which is located in the Court building at 8300 Common Road, Warren, Michigan. Both Centerline and Warren use the probation department at this address. It is within the judge’s discretion whether or not to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a crime or drunk driving offense. In many cases that qualify as isolated incidents, we may be able to convince the judge that probation, also known as community supervision, is not necessary. When probation is imposed, the judge may require reporting or non-reporting.  For obvious reasons, no probation or non-reporting is preferable.  The probation department utilizes on-line reporting. When allowed to report on-line, the probationer is not required to personally appear at the probation department to report unless otherwise instructed to do so. The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the 37th District Court is 2 years. However, our experience is that probation is rarely imposed for more than 1 year for most misdemeanor offenses.

Traffic Violations in the 37th District Court: Avoid Points & Record of any Conviction!

The Warren Police, Centerline Police and Michigan State Police all have an active presence monitoring the activity of vehicular traffic with the jurisdiction of the 37th District Court.  I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at the 37th District Court. When resolving a traffic matter in the 37th District Court, we are often able to get a reduction or avoid points. A traffic ticket can be reduced to a Michigan civil infraction known as impeding traffic or double parking which are offenses that will never appear on a person’s driving record and do not carry any points.

Court personnel are forbidden by law to give legal advice. Yet courts are making it easier than ever to just pay your traffic ticket by visiting the court’s website and conveniently providing an option to pay by credit card.  Unfortunately, most individuals that receive a traffic ticket do not hire a lawyer and wind up with a record and points that will have an impact on insurance premiums for several years. The path of least resistance, paying the ticket, can be much costlier in the long run.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information