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Image depicting felony “Assault with a Deadly Weapon”

According to Michigan Crime Statistics, 117,430 assault crimes were reported in 2016. This includes assaults classified as misdemeanors, felonies and domestic violence cases.

Misdemeanor Assault Crimes                                       Maximum Punishment

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41B District: How to Get a Second Chance if Charged with Retail Fraud 3rd Degree

The 41B District Court is located at 22380 Starks Drive, Clinton Township, Michigan, 48038. This Court has jurisdiction which encompasses Clinton Township, Harrison Township and Mount Clemens. It is trial court with full authority to handle all proceedings with respect to misdemeanor offenses that do not carry more than 1 year in jail.

The 41B District Court region is densely populated with national retailers (Walmart, Target, Lowes), retail strip centers and the Partridge Creek Mall which opened in 2007. This publication is about the crime of retail fraud (shoplifting) and how it can be managed with a positive result in the 41B District Court.

We have practiced criminal law extensively in the 41B District Court and longer than most law firms in Macomb County. 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: The retail business may send a letter requesting up to $200.00 from the alleged offender even before the case is within the court system. 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 commiting 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.

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 to pay for it.” Don’t fool yourself into believing that you can win your case with these assertions. These are old tired excuses that are likely to result in a guilty verdict at trial. I would say that these excuses honestly apply to a less than 5% of all retail fraud cases, yet we hear this from about 50% of the clients that come through our doors.  Again, saying the wrong thing in the courtroom can get you stuck in system and lead to a devastating irreversible guilty verdict.

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.  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. Upon compliance, the offender can obtain an official copy of the dismissal from the court to prove compliance and that the matter was dismissed. This often all that is needed to save someone future complications associated with employment or college applications.

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Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court

The Macomb County Juvenile Court is located at the Old Macomb County Building at 10 North Main, Mt. Clemens, Michigan 48043: Most matters are heard at this building before a referee. 

Juvenile delinquency cases are akin to criminal cases in the adult system.  When a minor (age 16 or under) is charged with a crime (Michigan Penal Code), the case will be referred to Juvenile Court in the county where the child resides; not to the adult criminal courts. If found guilty, the juvenile may not be placed in adult prison.  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.

The Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court is located at 10 North Main, Mt. Clemens, Michigan 48043.  When a case is filed, it is assigned to one of the referees.  The job of a referee involves working with the attorney, the juvenile, the family, the prosecutor, the case worker and the victim. In our experience, more than 90% of all juvenile cases are resolved at this level. Depending upon the circumstances and the prior record of the offender, there are a variety of resolutions that are possible in the juvenile system. Diversion and consent calendar are extremely favorable proceedings which do not result in any finding of ‘guilt’ and the charge(s) are eventually dismissed.  A juvenile that enters a plea of guilty or is found guilty faces a range of dispositions that are suited for the particular individual such as: probation, house arrest, drug testing, counseling and in extreme cases detention. Referees may also conduct trials if agreed upon by the juvenile defense attorney, prosecutor and referee. The juvenile also has a constitutional right to have a jury trial. In Macomb County, jury trials are held at the Macomb County Circuit Court Building before the Circuit Court Judge assigned to the case.

Crimes by Persons Age 16 or Younger Treated as Juveniles

  • Age 16 and younger: 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. Juvenile offenders may also be eligible for a dismissal of the offense depending upon the circumstances.
  • Waiver of juveniles to adult criminal court: Pursuant to MCL 712A.4, upon motion by the prosecuting attorney and a hearing before the court, a juvenile 14 years of age or older, accused of a felony, may be tried as though he or she were an adult. The statute further provides: “the court shall conduct a hearing to determine if the best interests of the juvenile and the public would be served by granting a waiver of jurisdiction to the court of general criminal jurisdiction.”  In making its determination, the court shall consider several factors, giving greater weight to the seriousness of the alleged offense and the juvenile’s prior record of delinquency than to the other criteria.
  • Age 17 and older: 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 offenders that are age 17 but under age 24. HYTA is a status that is negotiated which can result in an offense being dismissed and the record forever sealed.

More Drug Crimes, Sex Crimes & False Bomb/Terrorism Threats

Our Macomb County defense attorneys have seen an increase in juvenile delinquency cases for crimes involving drugs, sexual activity and false bomb/terrorism threats.  Protecting our children from the outside world is becoming more difficult than ever.  Juveniles are faced with many forces of distraction and temptation.  Hard street drugs, marijuana and addictive prescribed medications are easily obtainable. In addition, the internet and cable television allows our children to access pornography and negative programming which shapes their values about sexuality and violence.  Juveniles that are unpopular or impulsive may use social media to post threatening messages that can result in serious criminal charges; false threats of terrorism/bomb threats.

Drug crimes, sex crimes and false threats of terrorism are all cases that are potentially manageable in the juvenile system.  Depending upon the circumstances, we may recommend a psychological profile to rule out predatory or violent behavior.  For cases involving false threats of terrorism/bomb threats, we always ask for character letters from family members, neighbors, teachers and members of the community that can attest to the positive qualities and good nature of our juvenile client.

Cases Involving Allegations of Sex Crimes against Juveniles

The lives of every family member is torn apart and turned upside down when a loved one is accused with a sex crime. A juvenile may be charged with a sex crime for possession of sexual images, transferring sexual images (sexting) or inappropriate behavior with a family member or non-family member.  The age of consent in Michigan is 16 for sexual activity. Therefore,  consent is not a defense to a sex crime when the victim is age 15 or younger under any circumstances, even if the victim lied about her age!

When a juvenile is accused of an inappropriate sexual incident, the parents are typically first notified by a detective.  The detective may have received a complaint from an individual or from a party under a duty to report the incident such as a physician, counselor or school personnel.  Once notified that a juvenile is accused of a sex crime, there are many steps that can be taken to prepare the juvenile and the juvenile’s family for action by the police, Child Protective Services intervention and juvenile court proceedings.

We believe in proactive management of cases when a juvenile is accused or charged with a sex crime. Our juvenile sex crime plan may include the following:

  • Advising the family and juvenile of constitutional right to remain silent (discussed below).
  • Cleaning up social media pages, cell phones (discussed below).
  • Advising the family and juvenile to refer any matters relating the allegations to their attorney.
  • Advising the family and juvenile regarding a strategy to deal with Child Protective Services.
  • Advising the family and juvenile regarding a strategy to deal with the law enforcement agency conducting an investigation.
  • Advising the family and juvenile regarding polygraph examinations.
  • Advising the family and juvenile regarding the Macomb County Juvenile Court Intake Process.
  • Sex specific psychological profile and counseling services to rule out predatory tendencies or future risk to others.
  • Sex specific and psychological counseling services for juveniles that have an underlying problem.
  • What to do if the alleged offense involves another minor child in the household.
  • Identifying cases that may be based upon lies by the alleged victim.
  • Taking an approach to avoid a sex-crime and the Sex Offender Registry (SORA)

How would you deal with any of the above legal and personal issues? Getting a lawyer as soon as you learn of an investigation can make a huge difference in the ultimate result of a juvenile sex crime case and help you regain your sanity.

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.

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, Sterling Heights or Washington Township would have his or her case heard in the Macomb County Juvenile Court even if the alleged criminal offense occurred outside of Macomb County.

Right to Jury Trial

The juvenile is entitled to a trial if a case is not resolved by other attempts.  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 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 or Instagram. 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.

Resolution of Juvenile Cases: Dismissals, Avoiding Felony Record, Avoiding Sex Crime

The juvenile court system is similar to the adult criminal system when fashioning a resolution. There are several variables that the prosecutor, probation officer and court will take in to consideration:

  • Any prior juvenile record (convictions or prior petitions in the court system)
  • The school, home and community record of the juvenile.
  • Whether the juvenile is incorrigible and/or habitually truant.
  • Whether the juvenile is addicted to drugs or alcohol and not responding to treatment.
  • Whether the juvenile has violent propensities or is a sexual predator.
  • The juvenile’s steps towards improvement during the pendency of the underlying case.
  • Whether the existing home is suitable for the juvenile to improve.

Dispositions: A juvenile that scores negatively with the court system can wind up in the youth home or face long term placement. Conversely, the Macomb Juvenile Court system is one that will consider community supervision (probation) and positive dispositions such as:

  • Diversion whereby a conviction is never entered and the case is eventually dismissed.
  • Consent Calendar with probation and dismissal upon compliance.
  • Avoiding a felony conviction.
  • Avoiding a conviction for a crime of dishonesty (larceny) or violence (assault).
  • Avoiding a sex crime conviction.
  • Avoiding the Sex Offender Registry.
  • Setting up a plea bargain for future expungement.

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Detroit Experiencing Vast Economic Growth: Destination for 4.3 Million Metro Detroiters, Canadians and Tourists

The 36th District Court is by far the busiest district court in the State of Michigan. It has a single location at 421 Madison, Detroit, Michigan 48226. There are 30 judges at this location that have demanding criminal, drunk driving and traffic dockets.

The City of Detroit is amid major economic growth.   Detroit’s growth includes a real estate boom, renovations of historic structures, updated infrastructures and housing developments.  The downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods are experiencing an influx in population which is likely to continue for several years to come.  The City of Detroit is also attracting visitors from the Metro-Detroit suburbs (4.3 million), Canada and other regions to places like the Eastern Market, Greektown, Midtown, Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre, Belle Isle, museums, casinos, festivals, concerts and restaurants.  In addition, all of Detroit’s 4 professional sports teams (Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons) now have stadiums in downtown Detroit.

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MAP OF MACOMB COUNTY DISTRICT COURTS

Eastpointe and Roseville Courts: Bulging Criminal, Drunk Driving and Traffic Dockets

The 38th District Court (known as the Eastpointe Court) and the 39th District Court (known as the Roseville Court), are neighboring district courts in the southeastern part of Macomb County. Districting is based upon several factors which include density and traffic. As the above map illustrates, these districts are relatively small in relation to other districts in Macomb County. They cover a combined geographic area of approximately 20 square miles, compared to the 42-1 District in Romeo which encompasses an area of 180 square miles.

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MACOMB COUNTY DISTRICT COURT MAP 

The 42-1 District Court is located at 14133 33 Mile Road, Romeo Michigan 48065

The 42-1 District Court’s physical jurisdiction covers 180 square miles in northerly Macomb County which includes the City of Romeo, Washington Township, Armada, Richmond, Memphis, Ray Township and Bruce Township. The 42-1 District Court, also called the ‘Romeo Court’ has jurisdiction over more land mass in Macomb County than any other district court. Judge Dennis Leduc is the presiding judge of the 42-1 District Court. The 42-2 District Court, also known as the ‘New Baltimore Court‘, covers the remainder of the 42nd District.

Here are a few things that you should know if you are charged with a DUI, traffic ticket or criminal charge in the Romeo Court:

  • All fines and costs are due on the date of sentence with few exceptions.
  • Alcohol and drug testing is used extensively.
  • All DUI cases are referred for a substance abuse evaluation.
  • Most criminal cases require a probation interview prior to sentencing.
  • Drug crimes and other crimes will be considered for deferrals where dismissals can be earned after a period of probation. This is discussed in more detail below.

There are several police agencies within the 42-1 District Court jurisdiction. The Macomb County Sheriff’s Department has the largest presence in the northerly region of Macomb County. Other law enforcement agencies within this jurisdiction include the Romeo Police, Richmond Police and the Michigan State Police North Post.

The northerly region of Macomb County, is a blend of rural and suburban living. It is also experiencing economic expansion at every level. Expansion is most notable in Washington Township which is on the southerly border of the 42-1 District.  The very essence of expansion equates to an increase in population, retail development and added traffic volume.

Criminal Cases in the 42-1 District Courts: Provisions of Law to Get Dismissals Available!

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 42nd District Courts in Romeo and New Baltimore. The following is list of some of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on the 42-1 District Court docket:

 The 42-1 District is a conservative district.  Judge Leduc runs a tight ship and his Court is run very efficiently.  Judge Leduc likes to see the presence of family members in the courtroom and will ask for their input regarding those that appear before him.

Getting out on bond, bond conditions: If you are arrested or arraigned on a criminal matter in the 42-1 District Court, you will appear either before a magistrate or judge.  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at an arraignment hearing by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions upon a person’s release from jail. Drug and alcohol testing are common bond conditions for those charged with any crime involving drugs or alcohol. A ‘no-contact order‘ is assured in assault cases, domestic violence, sex crimes and all other crimes involving a victim. In retail fraud cases, the accused party may be instructed to refrain from entering the establishment where the alleged shoplifting occurred. 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 42-1 District Courts, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:

  • Prior criminal history of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police.
  • Whether another party was injured, or property was damaged.
  • The ability of the accused party to provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children

We have utilized each of these special provisions of law in the 42-1 District Court which can result in a dismissal of a criminal matter:

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 42-1 District Court

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving (and drugged while driving) offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances. 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 to 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.

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 Macomb County 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 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. We evaluate every DUI 3rd for opportunities to get it reduced to a misdemeanor by filing strategic legal motions, negotiations and filing a deviation request.

The 42-1 District Court Probation Department: 14133 33 Mile Road, Romeo Michigan 48065

The 42-1 District Court has its own probation department located in the courthouse.

It is within the judge’s discretion whether to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a criminal 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 probation.  The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the district courts is 2 years. However, our experience is that probation is rarely imposed for more than 1 year for most first-time offenders.

Traffic Violations in the 42-1 District Court: Reduced to Avoid Points and Record of any Conviction!

Several police agencies have an active presence monitoring the activity of vehicular traffic within the jurisdiction of the 42-1 District Court.  Like other district courts in Macomb County, I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at the 42-1 District Court. When resolving a traffic matter in the 42-1 District Court, we are often able to negotiate a reduction or avoid points. A substantial reduction in a traffic ticket occurs when it is reduced to an offense such as impeding traffic or double parking. A traffic ticket that is reduced to impeding traffic or double parking does not carry any points and will never appear on a person’s driving record! We are also able to get favorable results for individuals charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses such as driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. 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.

Court Personnel are Forbidden to Give Legal Advice: Yet most courts are making it easier than ever to just pay your traffic ticket by visiting the court’s website and giving offenders the convenient option to pay by credit card.  What they won’t tell you on their website is that you will get points on your driving record and that you may will wind up with higher insurance premiums for several years. Unfortunately, most individuals that receive a traffic ticket do not hire a lawyer. The path of least resistance, paying the ticket, can be much costlier in the long run.

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St. Clair County borders Macomb, Lapeer and Sanilac Counties and is just a short distance (via the Blue Water Bridge) to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. There are several recreational attractions in this area, major events (Port Huron to Mackinac Race, Port Huron Float Down, Jobbie Nooner) and many that choose to live in St. Clair County because of its charm and proximity to the St. Clair River and Lake Huron. If you are charged with a crime, get in trouble at the border (Blue Water Bridge or ferry crossing) or are caught driving under the influence (DUI, OWI)  in St. Clair County, your case will be heard at 72nd District Court with locations in Port Huron and Marine City.  The 72nd District Court bench are protective of their communities.

Google Maps Link for Directions to 72nd District Courts

The 72nd District Court has 2 locations in St. Clair County with jurisdiction to handle criminal and drunk driving matters which occur in this region.

72nd District Court (Port Huron)
201 McMorran Blvd.
Room 2900
Port Huron MI 48060

72nd District Court (Marine City)
2088 South Parker (M-29)
Marine City, MI 48039

St. Clair County Serviced by State, Local and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies

There are several active law enforcement agencies in St. Clair County (St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, Michigan State Police, Department of Natural Resources, Homeland Security, US Coastguard, US Customs) which have the responsibility of keeping order in an area with an international border with Canada, miles of waterfront property and that hosts recreational activities which often involve boating, crowds and alcohol.

72nd District Courts: Resolution of Criminal & Drunk Driving Cases in Court with Jurisdiction for the Entire County of St. Clair

Dealing with any court proceeding can be an intimidating experience without the guidance of an attorney. By saying the wrong thing without proper representation, you could end up having your case scheduled for jury trial and miss an opportunity to get out of the system.  If you find yourself in this position, getting experienced attorney is crucial to navigate you through the maize of options in the judicial system.

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 72nd  District Courts. The following is list of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on courts’ dockets:

Getting out on bond, bond conditions: If you are arrested or arraigned for a criminal matter in the 72nd District Court, you will appear before either a magistrate or judge.  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for an arraignment hearing to advocate for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions and restrictions which can include: travel restrictions, no-contact order, drug and alcohol testing. A no-contact order is assured in domestic violence, stalking, assault and sex crime cases.

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 not more than 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 St. Clair County Circuit Court in Port Huron for further proceedings. In certain cases, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor and then 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 72nd District Courts is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:

  • Prior criminal history of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police.
  • Whether another party was injured, or property was damaged.
  • The ability of the accused party to provide restitution for damages.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children)

All these special provisions of law are possible in the 72nd District Courts which can result in the ultimate dismissal of a criminal matter:

Non-Resident or Canadian: If you reside outside of Michigan, consider getting an attorney that is experienced with the 72nd District Court system and will provide you with efficient representation.

High Number of Drunk Driving Cases in the 72nd District Courts

Based upon 2016 statistics, the St. Clair County Sheriff administered 118 breath tests and 86 blood tests for operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The Port Huron police were in second place with 107 breath tests and 43 blood tests. Blood tests are administered to determine the presence of drugs, as a primary test for alcohol in lieu of a breath test or court ordered when a party refuses to give a breath sample. From a total of 354 tests reported by these police agencies (not including other agencies from Clay, Marysville etc.), 131 tests registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater (OWI) and 108 test results scored a BAC .17 or greater. Operating with a BAC of .17 or higher constitutes a more serious offense commonly referred to as Super Drunk Driving.

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ESTIMATION OF BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT (BAC)

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 72nd District 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 (non-reporting is possible)
  • Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
  • Restricted license for 90 days (mandatory by Secretary of State)
  • Possible alcohol or substance abuse program
  • Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings
  • 4 points on driving record (mandatory by Secretary of State)

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 to 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 a BAIID 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 possible  jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in the 72nd District Courts

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 when reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are moved up to the St. Clair County Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination.

Felony cases are evaluated on a case by case basis in the early stages to determine whether a legal course of action can improve the prospects negotiating a reduction to a misdemeanor.

Court Personnel are Forbidden to Give Legal Advice: Court employees will not tell you if you are eligible to get a criminal charge or drunk driving reduced to a lower offense.  If you plead guilty without a lawyer, you will not be told that the matter could have been handled with a special provision of law to get it dismissed. The path of least resistance, pleading guilty without a lawyer, can be much costlier in the long run.

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‘Fleeing & Eluding’ and ‘Resisting or Obstructing’ the police are crimes that are classified as felony offenses in Michigan. These laws are meant to discourage conduct that endangers the public and the police who are engaged in the lawful performance of their duties. Our firm has seen an increase in fleeing and eluding cases, as well as resisting and obstructing cases, in Macomb and Oakland Counties. There are many reasons that are given by clients charged with these offenses. Some of the most prevalent reasons are as follows:

  • The offender is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both, and engages in risky behavior or irrational conduct.
  • The offender suffers from psychological disorders (PTSD, bi-polar disorder, ADHD), needs treatment or had an adverse reaction to medications.

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You may be eligible for restoration of your license if it has been revoked for multiple DUI offenses or for a felony involving the use of motor vehicle!

2017 has been a another year of victories for ABDO LAW clients that have had hearings before the the Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD). This year alone we have won 80 – 90% of our cases (we are still waiting on some results) on behalf of clients whose driver’s license was revoked for multiple DUI cases or for conviction of a felony driving offense (DUI causing injury or death). Losing your license can be a very embarrassing and demoralizing process. You either have to inconvenience others for rides, or risk driving with a suspended or revoked license and getting hit with a DWLS. With a DWLS conviction, you face jail and have to wait at least another year until you can get your license back. Oftentimes, people who have had their license revoked find themselves unable to find work or advance in a career. Other times, it is just a stinging reminder of a person’s past they are working hard to forget. We truly understand and identify with these concerns; we discuss them with our license clients every day. Our Firm specializes in and excels at license cases, it is a special area in our law practice where we can actually make our clients’ lives better. There is nothing more rewarding than to bring the process full circle by helping a client restore their full driving privileges.

We will give you advice to improve your license restoration appeal

 

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Royal Oak is one of the most popular nightlife destinations in Metro Detroit. There are few other towns that in just a couple city blocks have so many options for food and entertainment. Every week thousands of patrons fill restaurants such as Ronin, Town Tavern, or Andiamo. Royal Oak is also home to many well-known night spots such as Commune, Blackfinn, Fifth Avenue, and Luna. While there seems to be a push to attract people to the City for an evening out, Royal Oak does not tolerate drunken behavior on its streets. Anyone who sits in the back of the 44th District‘s Court Room for a morning will tell you that the docket is full of drinking related cases which include drunk driving and disorderly conduct. The point of this blog post is two-fold; one is to inform how to avoid a disorderly conduct charge and the second is to explain how our office can help if you are being charged in Royal Oak.

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

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

Examples of Disorderly Conduct, Public Intoxication Cases, Peeing in Public

Practically speaking, the disorderly conduct state statute and local city ordinances cover a wide range of behavior that many might not realize amounts to criminal activity. There are a several scenarios that can result in being charged with disorderly conduct (a/k/a drunken disorderly or public intoxication). Here is just of sample of cases that we have seen:

  • Getting forcibly removed from a bar, only to find the police outside, who witness the scene and issue a disorderly citation.
  • Creating a disturbance of any kind, or fighting, after consumption of alcohol.
  • Urinating in public.
  • Entering the wrong house in a neighborhood after consuming alcohol (this happens more often than you would think).
  • Laying down on the sidewalk intoxicated or vomiting in a public place.
  • Having sex in public (which can also lead to more serious sex crimes such as indecent exposure or gross indecency).

Other activity that will put you at risk for a disorderly conduct is being loud, harassing/pushing people in places of business, interfering with public property, and most importantly being disrespectful towards law enforcement.

Felony Charges for Extreme Conduct: Resisting/Obstructing the Police, Fleeing

The very nature of disorderly conduct, in our opinion, is that it is a fallback charge when conduct does not rise to the level of a more serious crime. Word to the wise, if being questioned by police ALWAYS be cooperative and polite. Lashing out towards law enforcement can turn a 90 day disorderly conduct misdemeanor charge into a felony such as  resisting and obstructing which can carry 2 years in prison. Likewise, driving off or running from the police is always a bad idea because once apprehended, the offender can be charged with fleeing and eluding, a felony with various penalties.

Hot Spots for Disorderly Conduct: Royal Oak, Ferndale, St. Clair Shores, Utica, Detroit

Mostly, we see disorderly conduct, or alcohol related cases (urinating in public, indecent exposure), arising in areas where there is a concentration of bars and people are assembled on the streets for various reasons. There is no limitation to where a disorderly conduct offense can occur. Nonetheless, the vast majority of cases occur in areas which offer a popular bar/nightclub scene like Royal Oak, Detroit, St. Clair Shores (Nautical Mile), downtown Utica, and downtown Ferndale.  Detroit sports venues and sports bars are also places where the police are watching and charging exuberant fans with disorderly conduct.  While disorderly conduct cases are always one of the most prevalent on every district court docket, I would say that we see more of them occur on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (one of the biggest ‘bar nights’) and Tigers opening day, than at any other time.

Courts will Consider Deferring Proceedings and a Dismissal!

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

Unfortunately these cases do not lend themselves neatly to trials. Typically the accused was drunk and it makes for memory/credibility issues. However, our office has found that such cases are normally ripe for negotiation. If you are charged with Disorderly Conduct, do not make the fatal mistake of pleading guilty without first knowing all of your options. Contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer should be your first priority. Oftentimes, we can arrange a probationary period whereby the charge will be dismissed upon compliance with any conditions ordered by the court at the conclusion of the term. The length of the probationary period and the terms of probation are in the sole discretion of the Judge assigned to the case which may include all or none of the following: alcohol testing, drug testing, counseling, community service, reporting to a probation officer, fines/costs (always imposed) and possible jail time (rarely imposed unless the circumstances are extreme).

Our Firm is experienced in Royal Oak’s 44th District Court. We have found that its Judges are very realistic, fair, and will listen to well-reasoned arguments. Depending on the circumstances our office may recommend counseling if we believe, based on our experience, that it is necessary or will help facilitate a favorable disposition.
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