Well, December has never been a month where business is slow at the shopping malls or at our law firm. December is the month when people get out of their routine. What I mean is that many tend to drink more, spend more money, drive more frequently and have greater periods of time with family members. Existing drinking problems, substance abuse, depression, strained relationships and financial troubles are put to the test during the holiday season. All of these situations can lead to criminal problems such as drunk driving, retail fraud and domestic violence.
As a Macomb County criminal defense lawyer, I consider myself sensitive to the needs of our clients during the holidays. What can you say when someone gets charged with retail fraud (shoplifting) who suffers from depression or a substance abuse problem? I am just saying that people are just people and I do not sit in judgment of those who are less fortunate or troubled. I have found that the Judges in Macomb County to be reasonable with those who have no criminal record but find themselves charged with retail fraud under various circumstances including financial hardship or other stessors. In these cases, our attorneys are able to negotiate a plea bargain to have the case dismissed after a period of probation and conditions which may mean attending an economic crime class. This is true for clients that we have represented in every Macomb County District Court.
The holiday season is also a time of parties and gatherings which invariably involve alcohol. I have represented my share of teatotallers and social drinkers who have one too many at a holiday house party and wind up being charged with drunk driving. This can happen to anyone who has a few drinks and gets stopped by the police a few blocks from home. I cannot count the number of clients that I have represented for drunk driving who are pulled over in their own subdivision or even while pulling up in their own driveway. In Michigan, a person is considered legally drunk if his blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or greater regardless as to whether or not the person was actually intoxicated. To make matters worse, Michigan has passed a super drunk law making it a more serious crime if the blood alcohol content is .17% or greater. Sobriety is not a defense to a charge of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI or DUI) or Super Drunk. Various drink/weight index charts provide an approximate blood alcohol content (BAC) which can be helpful for anyone considering a few drinks before driving. The best advice that I can give is to have NONE FOR THE ROAD since the BAC charts are only an approximation and do not take individual tolerances into consideration; Even one drink can create misunderstandings in the eyes of the law if an accident occurs and someone is injured or dies.
Lastly, our attorneys see a fair amount of domestic violence cases during the holidays. Again, too much togetherness with the family and awkward social gatherings may be outside of the comfort zone. Emotions run high and money worries, existing depression along with substance abuse can come full circle which sometimes leads to arguing, fighting or domestic violence. A person who is charged with domestic violence may be removed from the home (no-contact order) and be unable to spend the holidays with family. The need for family counseling and a lawyer could not be greater under these circumstances. Our attorneys will try to schedule an expedited hearing with the Court to remove the no-contact order whenever possible. Removal of the no-contact order will require the consent of the spouse. In addition, our firm has had numerous domestic violence charges dismissed under a special provision of Michigan’s domestic violence laws.
All of the above situations can occur anytime of the year. At our firm, we never pass judgment on anyone and welcome the opportunity to provide guidance to our clients faced with personal and legal problems.