Articles Posted in Alcohol and Drug Crimes

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Romeo: 42nd District Court Division 1

Above, is a map of Macomb County with a geographical breakdown of the 9 district court borders. The 42nd District Court-Division 1 is located in the City of Romeo. It is often referred to as the Romeo Court. The court has jurisdiction over a greater area of land than any other district court in Macomb County and serves the following northern Macomb County communities: Romeo, Washington Township, Armada Village, Armada Township, Richmond, Richmond Township, Memphis (south of Boardman Rd), Ray Township and Bruce Township.

New Baltimore: 42nd District Court Division 2

The 42ndDistrict Court Division 2 is located in the City of New Baltimore and it serves the communities of New Baltimore, Chesterfield Township, Village of New Haven and the Lenox Township.

Traffic and Criminal Caseload of the 42nd District Courts

The 42-1 District Court, which is the one located in Romeo, and the 42-2 District Court, located in New Balimore, have jurisdiction over civil disputes not exceeding $25,000.00, and the following other legal proceedings:

Arraignments: All misdemeanor and felony arraignments occur at the district court level. Arraignment is the first stage of a criminal case following authorization of a criminal charge.

Misdemeanors: The district courts have complete jurisdiction over misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are crimes punishable by up to one year in the county jail and/or fines up to $1,000.00.

Felonies: All felony cases begin in the district court for arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination. Felony proceedings beyond preliminary examination are handled in the higher circuit unless resolved in the district court by a reduction to a misdemeanor.

Traffic: The district courts have complete jurisdiction over traffic tickets. Getting a lawyer to fight a traffic ticket to avoid points and higher insurance premiums is a wise investment.

Drunk driving, domestic violence and retail fraud are some of the most prevalent cases on the criminal dockets at the 42-1 District Court and the 42-2 District Court. Judge William Hackel presides over the 42-2 District and Judge Andary presides over the the 42-1 District Court.  Because of our consistently high criminal caseload at these courts, we consider both 42nd District Courts to be “home-town” courts. This ABDO LAW publication will focus on our experience representing clients charged with drunk driving, domestic violence and retail fraud cases at the 42nd District Courts.

Drunk Driving 

Getting nailed for drunk driving can be an ordeal no matter where it happens. However, it does make a big difference if you get a local Macomb County DUI/OWI lawyer that is experienced with the court and the judge assigned to your case.

Nationwide, less than 10% of all drunk driving cases wind up going to trial. This statistic holds true for drunk driving cases that are heard at the 42nd District Courts located in Romeo and New Baltinore, as well as every other district court in the counties of Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and St. Clair. However, I can tell you that if you get an OWI/DUI in the 42-1 District (Romeo Division) or the 42-2 District Court (New Baltimore Division), you are looking at the best-case-scenario. By best-case-scenario I mean that you are looking at getting the charge REDUCED, NO JAIL and NOT LOSING YOUR LICENSE. This is true for the drunk driving cases that we have handled for FIRST TIME OFFENDERS in the 42-1 and 42-2 District Courts from 2020-2021 where we were able to get every OWI and High BAC (.17 or more) dropped down to a lower charge with NO JAIL.  There are a few differences in the way things are done in the sister courts located in Romeo and New Baltimore. The Romeo Court is more likely to require supervised probation and alcohol testing for first offenders than New Baltimore. However, Romeo’s Judge Andary will consider early termination of probation and modification of random testing for individuals that are have been compliant.

The following are your most common options if you are charged with drunk driving

  1. Hire an attorney to negotiate the best possible plea bargain and advocate for a minimal sentence. Note: even felony drunk driving third offense can potentially be reduced to a misdemeanor!
  2. File motions to seek dismissal or reduction in the charge(s) based upon:  lack of evidence of intoxication or impairment, mistakes as to testing protocol, illegal traffic stop, lack of evidence to support the element that vehicle was “operated” by the defendant.
  3. Conducting a trial before the judge or a jury.

As I mentioned, more than 90% if OWI/DUI are resolved when an attorney can negotiate a favorable outcome that is far better than risking a guilty verdict to the higher original charges at trial. Because a local Romeo or New Baltimore drunk driving attorney knows the local polices, politics and procedures, you should never plead guilty as charged without getting sound legal advice. Watch your ass if you are getting your legal advice from the cop that arrested you and said that you don’t need a lawyer. You should also know that the court personnel are forbidden to give legal advice by every district court in Macomb County.

Link: extensive coverage of DUI/OWI cases in Macomb County.

Shoplifting-Retail Fraud

The terminology given by the Michigan Penal Code for the crime of shoplifting is “retail fraud.” Intentionally changing price tags, concealing merchandise and failing to scan merchandise are all forms of retail fraud. The offense of retail fraud may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. In Michigan, a misdemeanor is defined as an offense that is punishable by not more than 1 year in the county jail while a felony is a criminal offense punishable by more than 1 year – up to life in prison. The dollar amount of underlying theft and/or the prior retail fraud criminal record of the offender are the determining factors as to whether a person is charged with a misdemeanor or felony. The penalties for retail fraud are as follows:

First degree retail fraud: Theft of property of $1,000.00 or more constitutes retail fraud in the first degree, which is a felony under Michigan law, and carries up to 5 years in prison, or a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or 3 times the value of property stolen.

Second degree retail fraud: Theft of property of $200.00 up to $1,000.00 constitutes retail fraud in the second degree and carries up to 1 year in county jail, up to $2,000.00 fine or 3 times the value of property stolen.

Third degree retail fraud: Theft of property under $200.00 constitutes retail fraud in the third degree and carries up to 93 days in jail, up to $500.00 fine or 3 times the value of property stolen.

Judge Jennifer Andary and Judge William Hackel will go out of their way to give someone a second chance. Normally, almost every misdemeanor, including retail fraud, can be favorably resolved in the 42-1 District and the 42-2 District.  To be specific, both courts will take a retail fraud under advisement or set a deferral period. Upon successful completion of the deferral period the case is DISMISSED. During the deferral period, the offender is required to comply with any of the following conditions ordered by the court:

  • Attend appropriate program ranging from a 1-day class to a long-term substance abusecounseling program.
  • Possible drug/alcohol testing.
  • No contact with the retail establishment where the offense occurred.
  • Payment of combined fines and costs approximately $1,000.00.
  • Possible community service.

If you are charged with a felony, ask a local Macomb County criminal defense lawyer how it is possible to get it reduced to a misdemeanor, avoid jail and avoid a felony record.

Link: extensive coverage of retail fraud cases in Macomb County

Domestic Violence and Assault

The crimes of domestic violence and assault & battery are found in MCL 750.81

Most of those that we represent for domestic violence or assault have never been in trouble with the law and are looking for a way to get out of the system Scott-Free without a domestic violence conviction. An outright dismissal of a domestic violence or assault crime in Macomb County is possible when the victim does not want to prosecute. This is not as easy as it sounds and the services of an experienced local Macomb County criminal defense attorney can make a huge difference between getting a case dismissed and winding up with a big fat legal mess.  A local Macomb County domestic violence lawyer will formulate an individualized strategy to deal with the following potential problems that may arise:

  • How the victim should respond to the prosecutor and victim’s rights advocate.
  • Whether the victim will be held in contempt of court for failing to appear for a court date or trial.
  • How to deal with the prosecutor that intends to use the police report and witness statements when the victim does not cooperate.
  • How to avoid getting hit with witness tampering and/or obstruction of justice accusations.

Big 3 Options if you are charged with Assault or Domestic Violence: There are 3 options in the criminal justice system for a person charged with an assault crime or domestic violence which are as follows: 

  1. Seeking a dismissal when the victim adamantly does not want to testify or appear against the accused party.
  2. Pleading pursuant to MCL 760.4a which will result in a dismissal after a term of probation.
  3. Conducting a trial before the judge or a jury.

Link: extensive coverage of assault and domestic violence cases in Macomb County

 

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License Revocations and Appeals to the OHAO

I wanted to use this post as a forum to reflect on my vast experience handling driver license appeals with the Michigan  Department of State, Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight (OHAO). The OHAO was formerly called the Driver License Appeal Division or DLAD. The OHAO or DLAD is the place that you go when you are eligible for a driver license restoration hearing.

A person that is classified as a habitual drunk driver or has a felony conviction involving a motor vehicle faces indefinite license revocation. Indefinite license revocations are imposed for the following scenarios:

  • 2 or more offenses for operating under the influence (drugs or alcohol) within 7 years.
  • 3 or more offenses for operating under the influence (drugs or alcohol) within 10 years.
  • A conviction for operating under the influence causing a serious personal injury.
  • A conviction for operating under the influence causing death.
  • A felony conviction which results in license revocation.

Appealing a license revocation: Evidence MUST be consistent!

There is a long list of evidence that is required and must be submitted before a client can get an OHAO hearing:

  • Form 258: Current substance abuse evaluation.
  • Form 257: Petitioner’s background.
  • Drug Screen: 12 panel drug test with at least two integrity variables.
  • Three to six community support letters (we may ask for more), preferred to be from a cross section of individuals (family, co-workers, friends, neighbors).
  • Doctor’s letter may be required depending upon medical history and current use of certain prescribed drugs.
  • DI4P: Physician’s Statement if a medical situation has caused impairment, loss of consciousness or could affect safe driving.
  • Optional: Evidence of attendance at support meetings, counseling, AA.
  • Optional: Other positive documentation such as completion of probation, Sobriety Court, etc.

Link to forms 257 and 258, license appeal hearing

Hiring an attorney that knows the OHAO process should be your first priority if you are thinking about a license appeal. The license restoration process is very particular and specialized. Just because you waited several years for a hearing, went to jail or need a license to work does not mean that you will win your hearing. You must present consistent credible evidence for your licensee restoration hearing. With certain hearing officers, your evidence muse be almost perfect or you can risk losing your hearing! Unfortunately, the standards set forth regarding the evidence are not entirely objective and are not always applied fairly.

You will lose your hearing if your evidence does not prove that you are likely to remain sober. You must be able to c0mmunicate your case to the OHAO with supportive evidence that you understand your duty to protect the public and that it is never acceptable to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, An experienced OHAO practitioner can increase your chances of winning an OHAO hearing by and prepare you for your evaluation. The following are examples of just a few ways that you can lose your OHAO hearing:

  • Inconsistent sobriety dates for alcohol and drugs.
  • Failure to mention all prior criminal offenses involving alcohol or drugs.
  • Failure to maintain unbroken sobriety.
  • Failure to obtain a doctor’s letter if you are taking certain medications for sleep, pain or psychological reasons.
  • Substance abuse evaluation (form 258) is not complete, does not cover all substances used or has a marginal prognosis.

Getting you ready for your hearing

In the aftermath of Covid-19, OHAO hearings are now held remotely via Microsoft Teams.

Oftentimes we represent clients who have already attempted a hearing without the help of counsel. Even though they have winning cases, they lose simply because they did not know how to present their case to the OHAO. An individual that appears before the OHAO must be able to testify as to their past and also as to their present and future behavior. A person’s background regarding use of alcohol and drugs is scrutinized because the State of Michigan owes a huge responsibility to the drivers of Michigan, and the burden is on the petitioner to show they are again worthy of the privilege of driving.

Proceedings before the OHAO are very unique. First, most clients are surprised to hear that they are not adversarial, per se. Additionally, most are not aware that the hearing officer is going to ask probing and invasive questions about their substance abuse history. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, many people do not realize there is a RIGHT way to approach these hearings and answer the questions.

That being said, our office has developed a paradigm for approaching all cases. From our first consultation we explain to clients the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and give an honest assessment of if the matter is worth pursuing. Our track record with these types of cases is very good, we generally win. We know how to win and what is expected because our lawyers have appeared before each OHAO officer as much as any other attorney in the State of Michigan.

Winning your license restoration hearing

When you win your license restoration hearing after serving a mandatory period of revocation, you will be allowed to drive with some restrictions and requirements. At the very least, the OHAO will require the installation of a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID). In addition, the petitioner will only be allowed to drive for designated purposes, such as employment, or for designated days and hours.

After successfully abiding by the restrictions and requirements for a period of at least one (1) year, the individual may file an appeal to the OHAO for a FULL RESTORATION OF LICENSE. The same documentation (form 257, form 258, character letters, etc.) must be supplied to the OHAO, along with a current BAIID report, before a full license restoration hearing can be scheduled.,

The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID)

In Michigan, you are considered a habitual drunk driver if:

  • Two or more DUI convictions within 7 years.
  • Three or more DUI convictions within 10 years.

Habitual offenders that are able to get their license restored will be allowed to operate a vehicle that has a BAIID device installed. As we have discussed, a person that has multiple driving under the influence convictions will not be eligible to appeal for a license until the minimum revocation period has been served. After serving the minimum revocation period, the party is required to prove his or her case before the OHAO. If you are well prepared and your evidence is consistent, you can expect to win your hearing and be granted a restricted license with the BAIID device.

A BAIID is a technical device that measures a person’s bodily alcohol content (BAC) and is connected with a motor vehicle’s ignition and other control systems. The BAIID keeps the vehicle from starting if the BAC is .025 or higher. The BAIID also includes a camera which records an image of the individual providing the sample. The device will also require random rolling retests while the person is driving the vehicle.

If there are alcohol readings or other BAIID violations after the device is installed, they will be reported to the Secretary of State as violations. If the BAIID has a false positive violation for alcohol, we strongly urge you to find a location as soon as you can to provide a breath sample that will nullify the false reading. You should also keep a notebook in the vehicle and write down anything to support your case should you be improperly violated.

BAIID VIOLATIONSBAIID violations are classified as “minor” and “major” violations:

Major Violations:

  • Rolling retest violation: Failing to take the retest when prompted by the BAIID; or the random retest detects a BAC of .025 or higher, and there is no sample with a BAC of less than .025 within 5 minutes.
  • An arrest or conviction for drunk and/or drugged driving.
  • Tampering or circumventing with the BAIID.
  • Three minor violations within a monitoring period.
  • Removing the BAIID without having another device installed within 7 days.
  • Operating a vehicle without a properly installed BAIID.

VIOLATION CONSEQUENCES: Minor violations will result in a 3-month BAIID extension. Major violations will result in the immediate reinstatement of your original driver’s license revocation/denial. You may appeal that action to the Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight within 14 days and should consult with a lawyer if you find yourself in this position.

Go for the win the first time!

We take the time to learn each client’s unique case history and work on tailoring each case to that individual’s circumstances. We believe in each client’s cause and fight aggressively to get petitioners back on the road. Our office has a strong record of winning cases like this. We have a proven formula that gets results.

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According to 2019 Michigan State Police records – 4,933 crimes were reported to the Clinton Township Police. The majority of crimes reported were for larceny, retail fraud (shoplifting), operating while intoxicated (OWI), OWI with a high BAC (.17 or more), domestic violence and assault crimes. The jurisdictional geographical boundaries of the 41B District Court include Clinton Township, Mt. Clemens & Harrison Township. 

41B District Court Information, Location, Zoom Identification

The 41B District Court  has jurisdiction to handle civil, traffic and criminal cases arising in Clinton Township, Harrison Township and Mount Clemens.

Clinton Township has its own police department while Harrison Township and Mount Clemens employ the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department for police services. The 41B District Court is served by 3 judges: Judge Sebastian Lucido, Judge Jacob Femminineo and Judge Carrie Lynn Fuca. In 2020, Judge Femminineo replaced long standing Judge Linda Davis. Judge Linda Davis is now active in the organization that she spearheaded, Families Against Narcotics (FAN).

41B District Court has an expansive jurisdiction with east to west borders from Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township to Hayes Road, and north and south borders from 14 Mile Road to Hall Road. The area has a diverse mixture of established and newer real estate, shopping centers, major retailers (Target, Walmart, etc.) Macomb County Community College, and the Partridge Creek Mall. The Macomb County Sheriff’s Department and the Clinton Township Police are the predominant law enforcement agencies in the area.

More than 10% of the total number of crimes in Macomb County are reported in 41B District Court boundaries. In 2019, there were 41,683 crimes reported in Macomb County with 4,933 being reported through the Clinton Township Police Department and several more reported to the Macomb County Sheriff Department.

We are frequent practitioners in the 41B District Court with more experience in that jurisdiction than any other attorneys in Macomb County.  In our opinion, the 41B District Court will give a person a second chance and has a philosophy to encourage rehabilitation and therapeutic justice rather than jail and punitive measures. 

Hire a lawyer now! Court personnel cannot give legal advice and the prosecutor does not represent you!

The court staff, the prosecutor and judicial officers are forbidden by law to provide you with legal advice. If you are facing a criminal or drunk driving matter in the 41B District Court, you need a skilled Clinton Township criminal defense lawyer to fight for your rights and get your life back on track. The 41B District handles a wide range of the criminal cases that occur in Clinton Township, Harrison Township and Mount Clemens.  The following is list of some of the most prevalent misdemeanor and felony cases on the 41B District Court’s criminal docket:

Crimes involving firearms are also on the rise throughout Macomb County. Gun crimes include carry a concealed weapon, brandishing a firearm and possession of a firearm under the influence.

Dismissals, felonies reduced to misdemeanors: There’s always a way to resolve a legal predicament. Just because you are guilty does not mean that you will be found guilty. In many cases, there’s a way to get out of the criminal justice system unscathed and without a conviction or by getting a felony dropped down to a petty offense.  An attorney can explain how all of these special provisions of law are utilized in the 41-B District Court which can result in a dismissal of a criminal matter:

Multiple criminal offenses and drunk driving are eligible for expungement

Michigan has adopted Clean Slate legislation that enables eligible individuals to get multiple offenses, and one drunk driving offense, expunged. For the first time ever (effective February 19, 2022) an individual can file a petition to get any of the following offenses for drinking or drugged driving expunged:

  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
  • Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
  • High BAC .17 or more or Super Drunk Driving
  • Minor with any BAC (Zero Tolerance)
  • Operating with the Presence of a Controlled Substance conviction

The following driving offenses are not eligible for expungement:

  • OWI with a child (passenger under 16)
  • OWI or Impaired Driving causing serious injury
  • OWI or Impaired Driving causing death.

Retail Fraud Cases in the 41B District Court: DISMISSED!

The offense of retail fraud, also known as shoplifting, can occur when an individual intentionally does any of the following at a retail or business establishment:

  • Conceals property with the intent to steal
  • Changes a price tag or packaging of an item
  • Attempts to defeat the checkout scanner

If you are charged with retail fraud, chances are that you have not been in trouble before and had the money to pay for the goods. If a client is not a US citizen, we will take extra measures in our negotiations to AVOID DEPORTATION. Getting the best 41B District Court retail fraud lawyer is important if you want to keep your dignity, keep your case private, avoid deportation and get the charge dismissed with NO JAIL.

Domestic Violence

Are you being charged with domestic violence in the 41B District Court? Are other attorneys telling you to just plead guilty? Have you been told that you can’t get the no-contact order lifted? Does your significant other, spouse or other side want the case dismissed? If you are in this position, get a Macomb County domestic violence lawyer to explain how you can get the charge DISMISSED, can get the no-contact order lifted and will not be labeled with an assault crime.

Over 200 Charged with Operating While Intoxicated in the 41B District in 2019

There is always a consistently high number of OWI/DUI cases in the 41B District Court. From our experience, you are not looking at jail or losing your license for a first time drinking/drugged driving offense. In addition, if you are charged with a felony OWI/DUI (OWI Third), there is a good chance it can be reduced to a misdemeanor with the right 41B District Court drunk driving lawyers. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. Fortunately, the judges in the 41B District Court have a sentencing philosophy that encourages rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater), there is a good chance it can be reduced to a lower offense. Using local Clinton Township drunk driving defense lawyers that know the local policies, practices and prosecutors is your best bet if you are looking to get significant deal on any drunk driving case.

All of the 41B District Court Judges have been in private law practice 

The 41B District Court bench all had careers in the private sector running their own law practices. The 41B District Court Judges all know what its like to stand next to another person that is falsely accused of a crime or needs someone to fight for their rights. The 41B District Court is a court system that works with lawyers and those accused of crimes to deliver just and fair results.

From the moment that there is an arrest or a criminal investigation, you need to all of the protection that a local criminal defense attorney can offer. Getting a local Clinton Township criminal defense attorney that knows the system is the best place to start if you are looking to get out of the court system with the best possible outcome.

The 41B District Court Probation Department

It is within the judge’s discretion whether or not to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a criminal or drunk driving offense. For most criminal matters, there will be a period of probation imposed. The maximum period of probation that can be imposed for a misdemeanor is 2 years.  Probation may be non-reporting or require the individual to REPORT (to a probation officer. In certain situations, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can advocate for a short term of probation (3-6 months) or for NO PROBATION.

Probation Violations: The 41B District Court lists various situations that can result in a probation violation:

If you violate your probation for any reason, probation can be terminated, any deal or deferral can be taken away and jail can be imposed. The list below contains common reasons for a probation violation warrant.

  • Alcohol and drug testing violations (failing tests, missed tests).
  • Failure to appear for probation appointments.
  • Getting charged with a new criminal matter.
  • Failure to obtain permission to leave the State of Michigan.
  • Failure to provide current address to the probation department.
  • Failure to attend counseling or program as ordered by the Judge.
  • Failure to pay fines & costs by the due date.
  • Failure to pay restitution.

Probation Modification Hearings: In Michigan, probation can be imposed for up to two (2) years for a misdemeanor offense. While on probation, a person’s right to travel or consume alcoholic beverages can be restricted. Other rights can also be limited or denied while on probation. Probation is an alternative to jail but it also a restraint on personal freedoms and rights. If you are on probation and have been compliant, the 41B District Court Judges may consider modifying or terminating your probation. You will need to talk to an attorney about filing a motion to modify or terminate probation. There are three major reasons that clients ask us to file a motion to modify probation:

  1. Motion to terminate probation early.
  2. Motion to amend probation from reporting to non-reporting.
  3. Motion to amend probation regarding termination/reduction of alcohol/drug testing.

Isolated Incident, First Offender, Not Likely to Get Into Trouble Again: An attorney can advocate for lesser probation, non-reporting probation or a shorter period of probation for eligible offenders.

Traffic Violations in the 41B District Court: Reduced to Avoid Points and Record of any Conviction!

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 41B District Court. Gratiot Avenue, Metro Parkway, a stretch of I-94 and Hall Road all contribute to the traffic volume in the 41B District Court.  When resolving a traffic matter in the 41B 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

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macomb-courts-logoMacomb County OWI Guide by Local OWI Attorneys

Macomb County: 2,000 Arrests Per Year for Driving Under the Influence

Whatever situation you are facing, we know that you didn’t intentionally set out to get charged with driving under the influence.  You’re in the right place if you are looking for answers and straight facts if are charged with an OWI anywhere in Macomb County. 

We have dedicated this  article to give you the big picture on the topic of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI/OWI) in Macomb County based upon our experience handling over 10,000 criminal cases with DUI/OWI cases consistently one of the most prevalent criminal charges that we handle for our clients.

The district courts located in Macomb County are as follows:

Frequently Asked Questions: Jail, CPL, Expungement, etc.

Based upon our experience, here are a few of the most common questions that we are asked by our clients that are charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs:

  • Am I going to jail? You are not looking at jail in any Macomb County County District Court if you are found guilty of a first time offense involving operating while under the influence (including OWI, High BAC or Impaired Driving).
  • Will I lose my driver’s license? For first time offenses that involve operating under the influence, there may a brief period of suspension with no driving privileges upon being found guilty. For example, an individual convicted of OWI with a high BAC will be suspended (no driving) for the first 45 days followed by restrictions (for employment and other purposes) with a BAIID device  for 320 days. We explain license sanctions in more detail in this article.
  • When should I hire a lawyer? It might take a month or longer before you get your first court date. However, you don’t need to wait until you get a court date before hiring a lawyer. You should consider hiring a lawyer as soon as possible if you are charged with any crime or drunk driving. There are proactive measures and strategies that can be taken right away if you are facing a criminal offense or drunk driving.
  • Can a drunk driving ever get dismissed? The answer to this question is YES. It is difficult to get a drunk driving dismissed but entirely possible based upon numerous legal and non-legal variables and circumstances. Even when a case cannot be dismissed, there is a good chance that it will be reduced to a lower charge. Getting a local attorney that specializes in drunk driving is your best option if you are looking to get the best possible representation.
  • Can I get an old drunk driving expunged? YES. Effective February 19, 2022, as part of Michigan’s Clean Slate laws, an individual may get one and only one drunk driving expunged if he or she meets the eligibility requirements and has resolved any underlying alcohol or substance abuse problem. The DUI expungement law will allow for expungement of any 1 of the following offenses:
    • Operating While Intoxicated
    • Operating Under the Influence of Drugs
    • Operating While Impaired
    • Operating with a High BAC .17 or greater
    • Zero tolerance/minor with any BAC
  • What is a BAIID device? A Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device, or BAIID, is a device installed in a vehicle that captures the image of the drive and measures the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The BAIID notifies the driver to provide breath samples when starting the car and at intervals while driving. The information is recorded and downloaded by the BAIID installer. BAIID violations can result in reinstatement of license suspension or revocation. A BAIID device allows an individual, whose license is otherwise legally suspended or revoked, to drive a vehicle. The BAIID is required for individuals that have been convicted of OWI with a high BAC, Sobriety Court participants convicted of two drunk driving offenses within 7 years and individuals with multiple drinking/drugged driving convictions that been granted driving privileges by the Secretary of State after a license restoration hearing.
  • Will I lose my CPL if I am convicted of an OWI or Impaired Driving? Unfortunately, you will lose your Concealed Pistol License (CPL) rights if you are convicted OWI or Impaired Driving. The right to have a CPL is gone for 3 years after a first time offense for operating under the influence. An individual convicted for a second offense will lose his or her CPL rights for 8 years.
  • Can I travel across the border into Canada if I am convicted of OWI or Impaired Driving?  Based upon Canadian immigration laws, a person that has been convicted of OWI or Impaired Driving will be considered criminally inadmissible to enter into Canada. Under certain circumstances, this harsh restriction may be overcome by showing of rehabilitation or obtaining a permit.

Michigan State Police Maintain Annual Drunk Driving Statistics

There are approximately 2,000 or more arrests per year for driving under the influence in Macomb County. The Michigan State Police (MSP Drunk Driving Audit) keeps statistics on the number of individuals tested for alcohol and drugs, the test result scores and the outcome of each case in the court system. For 2019 (2020 results are not being used because  irregularities due to Covid-19 stay-at-home measures), the Michigan State Police report indicates the following number of people were tested for alcohol or drugs by a breath or blood test in Macomb and surrounding counties:

  • Wayne: 4,631
  • Oakland: 4,126
  • Macomb: 2,130
  • St. Clair: 468

The MSP Drunk Driving Audit gives the numbers of those tested by each police department as well. In 2019, some of the larger police departments in Macomb County and neighboring Oakland County reported a large number amount of individuals tested for alcohol and drugs:

Macomb County: Number of individuals tested for alcohol/drugs

  • Clinton Township Police: 164
  • Chesterfield Township Police: 153
  • Sterling Heights Police: 140
  • Shelby Township Police: 137

Oakland County: Number of individuals tested for alcohol/drugs

  • Troy Police: 280
  • Royal Oak Police : 215
  • Rochester Police : 120

(Above numbers do not account for other individuals tested by Macomb Sheriff, Oakland Sheriff & MSP within the above cities.)

Of those tested, most wound up facing a criminal charge for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Those finding themselves charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI/OWI), rarely fit the mold of someone that you would expect to get into trouble with the law. In many situations, our clients have responsible employment, solid relationships and lead healthy lifestyles. On the other extreme, we have represented those that admit to a substance abuse problem, use alcohol as a social lubricant after a recent breakup or divorce and/or are self-medicating to numb psychological disorders, relationship problems or a significant loss. Unfortunately, once in the court system, a person can be unfairly treated and characterized as a substance abuser because of an isolated episode of alcohol consumption and lack of knowledge of Michigan’s strict DUI laws.

What do the all of the abbreviations (OWI, DUI, etc.) stand for?

The following are common abbreviations used by the legal system in reference to the various charges for operating while intoxicated or impaired:

  • OWI = Operating while intoxicated: This offense covers charges when a person has a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater which is abbreviated as OWI. The abbreviations of DUI and OUIL mean the same thing as an OWI but are from a generation of prior drunk driving laws.
  • OWVI = Operating while visibly impaired:  This is the offense which is a lower charge than OWI . OWI is often reduced to OWVI in the court system.
  • OWPD = Operating with the presence of a Schedule 1 controlled substance: As determined by a blood test.
  • OUID = Operating under the influence of drugs: Includes situations where someone is impaired by the use of prescription medications.
  • OWI with High BAC = Operating with a high blood alcohol content: This is also referred to as a “super drunk driving” and is charged when a person has a blood alcohol content of .17% or more. OWI with high BAC carries much higher criminal and driving penalties than OWI or OWVI. Most county prosecutors have a policy and do not reduce OWI with a high BAC without policy deviation granted.

Why did the police destroy my driver’s license? Can I drive with this paper license?

dui 257g

Yes, you can drive fully on the paper license issued by the police when you were released from jail.

The following is a directive to law enforcement officers after placing someone under arrest for a DUI:

MCL 257.625g: On behalf of the secretary of state, immediately confiscate the person’s license or permit to operate a motor vehicle and, if the person is otherwise eligible for a license or permit, issue a temporary license or permit to the person. The temporary license or permit shall be on a form provided by the secretary of state.

Once officially arrested for a drunk driving offense, the police will destroy the driver’s license of the accused party and issue a Michigan Temporary Driving Permit (see above image).  The temporary permit will be provided to the offender upon release from jail along with a baggie containing the following:  breath-test result, search warrant for blood if there was a refusal, ticket or other notification, bond receipt and towing receipt. This Michigan Temporary Driving Permit will enable the person to continue to operate a vehicle without any restrictions. Upon being found guilty or convicted of operating while intoxicated or impaired, the Secretary of State will take appropriate action against the party’s license (suspend, revoke, restrict). The aggrieved party may obtain a new picture license after all of the license action has expired with respect to the underlying conviction offense. License action may also be imposed for alcohol/drug test refusals pursuant to Michigan’s implied consent laws.

License Suspension, Revocations, Restrictions

There are mandatory license sanctions for every OWI offense. Upon conviction, these sanctions, or action, is imposed by the Secretary of State and the court system is powerless to intervene or provide any relief when a person is suspended or revoked for a drinking or driving offense.  Sobriety court may also save a repeat OWI/DUI offender from a mandatory license revocation.

Michigan Alcohol or Drug Crime License Action
First Offense OWI (.08 or greater)  30 days suspended, 150 days restricted
First Offense OUID (drugs)  30 days suspended, 150 days restricted
Second Offense within 7 Years Indefinite revocation (minimum 1 year)
Second Offense within 7 Years (Sobriety Court) 45 days suspended, 320 days restricted with BAIID
Third Offense within 10 Years Indefinite revocation 1 year to 5 years
Child Endangerment w/Child u/age 16 90 days suspended, 90 days restricted
Super Drunk (High BAC .17% or greater) 45 days suspended, 320 days restricted with BAIID
Impaired Driving (OWVI) 90 days restricted
Zero Tolerance, Under 21 w/.02% – .07% 30 days restricted
OWI/Causing Injury Indefinite revocation
OWI Causing Death Indefinite revocation
Other Felony Convictions w/Motor Vehicle Revocation or Suspension
First Offense Drug Crime  30 days suspended, 150 days restricted
Second Offense Drug Crime  60 days suspended, 305 days restricted

A person issued a restricted license  may operate a vehicle, to and from any combination of the following places:

  • In the course of the person’s employment/occupation.
  • The person’s residence.
  • The person’s workplace.
  • An alcohol, drug or mental health education treatment program as ordered by the court.
  • AA or NA meetings.
  • An educational institution at which the person is enrolled as a student.
  • A place of regularly occurring medical treatment for a serous condition or medical emergency of the person or a member of the person’s household.
  • An ignition interlock service provider (for those required to have a BAIID device).
  • The judge has discretion to permit a minor’s custodian to drive to a day care center or educational institutional where the child is enrolled.

An indefinite license revocation may be appealed after a minimum of one (1) year (or after 5 years for a second revocation) to the Michigan Department of State. The process to regain driving privileges is known as a driver’s license restoration proceeding.

The Science of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Shot, Beer, and Wine

Law enforcement officers use breath, blood or urine tests to measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). In Michigan, an individual can be considered legally intoxicated even though the individual is not actually intoxicated. This is possible because Michigan has set legal BAC limits for individuals that operate a vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages:

  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI): A person that operates a motor vehicle with BAC of .08% to .16% is considered legally intoxication, regardless of actual intoxication. A BAC of .08% is sufficient to support a charge of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).
  • Super Drunk Driving or OWI with High BAC: A person that operates a motor vehicle with BAC of .17% or greater, regardless of actual intoxication, faces a higher charge of OWI with a High BAC.

DUI BAC CHART MALE & FEMALE

The science of alcohol elimination from the body also plays a role in a person’s BAC. Just as alcohol is absorbed in a person’s blood over time, it is also eliminated. Although each person has a unique metabolism rate, it is estimated that alcohol is eliminated from the body at the rate of .015% per hour after hitting a peak BAC.  At this rate, it takes an estimated 70 to 90 minutes, or longer, for the human body to eliminate a single drink. A single drink = 1.5 oz. shot of 80 proof hard liquor, a 5 oz. glass of wine (12% alcohol) or a 12 ounce beer (5% alcohol).  See hours to zero chart below:

HOURS TO ZERO

Once behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcoholic beverages, ignorance of the law is not a excuse and the law enforcement officials do not discriminate even for those individuals that have never been in trouble.

Defending OWI Offenders in Macomb County

Although I have not officially counted, there are more laws, ordinances and administrative rules on the books for drunk driving than exist for murder, kidnapping and armed robbery combined! 

Getting charged with an OWI can be a dreadful ordeal. Being arrested and spending the night in jail is something that most of our clients have never experienced and that they don’t easily forget. Getting past these traumatic events requires an action plan by attorneys that specialize in handling  Macomb County drunk driving cases. There are 2 main variables that can influence drunk driving charges:

  1. Blood alcohol content (BAC):  Having a BAC of .08 or more meets the threshold for the charge of OWI. However, if the offender has a BAC of .17 or more, the charge is increased to “Super Drunk Driving“.
  2.  Prior drunk driving convictions: A person with one or more prior drunk driving convictions faces enhanced penalties for future drunk driving convictions. A second offense for drunk driving within 7 years of a first offense carries up to 1 year in jail and revocation of driving privileges. Getting a third drunk driving in one’s lifetime is a felony that can carry five (5) years in prison.

Working with a local attorney who knows how to deal with the following inquiries is your best bet to get an OWI dismissed or reduced:

  • What was the reason for the traffic stop?
  • Did the police have evidence that you operated the vehicle?
  • Was there an accident? Single vehicle or with another vehicle or pedestrian?
  • Was anyone injured?
  • Was the vehicle in a safe place (parked, engine off)?
  • What the vehicle likely to be put in a position of danger?
  • What did you consume (alcohol, prescription meds, illegal drugs)?
  • Did others that saw you earlier feel that you were impaired or high?
  • Is the test result accurate or is an independent test necessary?
  • Was the testing equipment inspected? Calibrated?
  • Does our client have any prior offenses for driving under the influence?
  • Does our client have any other criminal record?
  • Was client cooperative with the police?
  • Should our client get an independent substance abuse evaluation?
  • Should our client begin counseling and/or AA?

The Court Process in Macomb County

Drunk driving cases are crimes and the court process is governed by the rules of criminal procedure. A person charged with a crime is entitled to protection under the United States Constitution pursuant to the Bill of Rights. Whether it is a misdemeanor or felony drunk driving, the accused is entitled to discovery of all reports, test results, witness statements, accident reports and video/photographic evidence. In addition, the accused is entitled to a trial by jury. The following is a basic framework of the court process in Macomb County for OWI cases:

  • Arrest-Misdemeanor OWI: The accused is held in jail until BAC drops and then released with legal papers after posting a bond. Attorney can waive formal arraignment in most Macomb County Courts.
  • Arrest-Felony OWI: The accused is held in jail and appearance is required for formal arraignment before a judge or magistrate.
  • Arraignment: May be waived by attorney for misdemeanor OWI in most Macomb County Courts. An appearance is mandatory for felony OWI and an attorney’s presence is required. An attorney can often save a person from having to use the services of a bondsman. Upon arraignment, bond conditions are also imposed that testing and travel restrictions.
  • Blood Draw: The accused may be formally charged pending blood results or released and later charged when the blood test results are returned. It can take several weeks and sometimes months for blood tests to be returned.
  • Discovery: The process of obtaining all evidence in a criminal case. Discovery may also include an independent investigation, accident reconstruction, obtaining witness statements and obtaining independent analysis of breath or blood samples.
  • Pretrial Conference:pretrial conference is a meeting between the  defense attorney and the prosecutor. There may be more than one pretrial conference. A pretrial conference is used to discuss plea bargaining, trial, discovery and other matters that pertain to the underlying case.  The majority of cases in Macomb County, 90% or more, are resolved after one or more pretrial conferences.
  • Probable Cause Conference/Preliminary Examination: Probable cause conference and preliminary examination are proceedings that are scheduled for crimes that are classified as felonies. Similar to a pretrial conference, a felony can be resolved at the probable cause conference stage of a criminal case.
  • Motions: When a judge is needed to address a matter before trial, a motion is filed to make the request. These requests are often necessary when the prosecutor will not dismiss a defective case or certain evidence should be admitted or excluded.
  • Plea Bargain: A plea bargain usually means that the original charge has been amended or reduced to something much more favorable. A plea bargain can occur at any stage of a criminal case even during a trial. The prosecutor will consult with any victim and arresting law enforcement officer to get approval for certain plea bargains. A person charged with a crime is not required to accept a plea bargain.
  • Trial: The prosecutor is required to prove the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (this applies to all crimes and drunk driving).
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation and /or Presentence Report: A substance abuse evaluation is MANDATORY If the accused if found guilty or pleads guilty to operating while impaired or intoxicated.
  • Sentencing Phase: At the sentence stage, the court will hear from the probation department, prosecutor, defense attorney, defendant and any victim that may be involved.

What about driving under the influence of marijuana?  

Marijuana is now legal in Michigan for recreational and medical use. However, a person that drives under the influence of marijuana is exposed to the same fate as someone that drives after consuming alcohol.

Alcohol can be tested by obtaining a breath sample with equipment known as a breathalyzer instrument. Marijuana is discovered by a blood test. In Michigan, drinking and driving charges are based upon legally established measurements of blood alcohol content (BAC) as measured by the testing equipment. The legal limits (BAC) for drunk driving in Michigan per se cases are as follows: Content results

  • OWI = BAC .08 or greater
  • Super OWI = BAC .17 or greater

No such legal limits for THC exist at this time and there is no approved testing instrument for marijuana that compares to the breathalyzer.  Currently, police utilize blood to test for marijuana and drugs. Future testing is likely to include breath equipment capable of testing for marijuana.

In general, the blood test results (THC nanogram levels) alone are insufficient to convict without other proof of impairment. There are a multitude of legal challenges that can be made in these cases especially when the blood test does not account for active THC or there is a lapse in time when marijuana was last used.

What will happen with my drunk/drugged case in Maacomb County?

Getting a dismissal is a top priority in every criminal or drunk driving case. Depending upon several factors in a given case, we may recommend fighting the case at trial, seeking a deviation request (for a reduction to a lower charge) or negotiating a plea bargain to a better place. According to US Justice Department Statistics, approximately 90% or more of all criminal and drunk driving in the United States are resolved by plea bargaining. The same is true for criminal and drunk driving cases in Michigan and in the Macomb County .  Plea bargaining can result in a dismissal, a reduction in the charges as well as recommendations for leniency at the sentencing phase of the case. Here are some common scenarios for drunk driving/drugged driving cases in Macomb County:

FIRST OFFENSE: No prior record, no Accident, low BAC (under .16), no substance abuse problem, cooperative with police: I would call this best case scenario. A person charged in Macomb County with an OWI in this position is likely to get a reduction to “impaired driving” with a sentence as follows:

    • Fines/costs range from $900.00 to $1500.00, depending upon the court.
    • 1 year probation (a strong argument can be made for non-reporting probation.
    • Testing is likely in most Macomb County County courts.
    • Community service is unlikely in most Macomb County courts.
    • Attending some form of counseling is likely in most Most County courts (usually a short program consisting of 1-8 sessions).
    • Most Macomb County judges will consider modification of probation and testing requirements if there has been at least 6 months or more of compliance.

SUPER OWI, High BAC (.17 or greater): Getting charged with OWI with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or greater in Michigan means stiffer penalties and being labeled a “super drunk driver”. For whatever reason, we are seeing a greater number of clients charged with “super drunk driving”. In 2018, approximately 660 individuals were tested by  the police in Warren, Shelby Township, Sterling Heights and Clinton Township with 301 registering a BAC of .17 or greater. If convicted of “super drunk driving”, the offender is required to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) on any vehicle he or she intends to operate for a period of 320 days after serving out a 45 day driver’s license suspension with no driving privileges. Contact a local Macomb County OWI lawyer to find out how a “Super OWI” can be dropped down to a much lower offense that will NOT REQUIRE the BAIID.

SECOND OFFENSE WITHIN 7 YEARS: Along with possibility of jail, a second offender faces mandatory license revocation upon being convicted of a second drinking and driving offense within a period of 7 years or a third conviction within a 10 year period. There are NO driving privileges allowed during a period of revocation. For those facing license revocation, driving privileges can be saved if the person is accepted in a Sobriety Court program. The Sobriety Court program allows eligible individuals convicted of certain drunk driving offenses to obtain a restricted driver license with installation of an ignition interlock device (BAIID) on vehicles they drive and own.  Sobriety Court is a good fit for someone that needs an intensive alcohol rehabilitation program and also for those convicted of a second offense for operating under the influence within a 7 year year period.

THIRD LIFETIME OFFENSE, Felony Drunk Driving: A person convicted of OWI with two prior offenses in his or her lifetime faces the following penalties:

  • $500 to $5,000 fine, and either of the following:
    • 1 to 5 years imprisonment
    • Probation, with 30 days to 1 year in jail.
  • 60 to 180 days community service.
  • Driver’s license revocation and denial if there are 2 convictions within 7 years or 3 convictions within 10 years. The minimum period of revocation and denial is 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • License plate confiscation.
  • Vehicle immobilization for 1 to 3 years, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • Vehicle registration denial.
  • 6 points added to the offender’s driving record.

You may think the odds are against you if you are charged with an OWI 3rd (felony) but that is not necessarily the case. If you find yourself in this position, you need to a solid action plan for the best chance to get the felony dropped down to a misdemeanor in the court system. In avoiding a felony, our clients have been able to avoid jail, retain their right to own firearms, retain driving privileges, retain valuable career licenses and not be labeled a felon!

Fighting for non-reporting probation, no testing, a limited counseling program (1 day class) and other leniency are realistic goals for individuals that qualify as isolated offenders and do not display a problem with alcohol.

Can a drunk driving case ever be completely dismissed?

I am sure you are wondering whether a drunk driving can be completely dismissed. There are various legal avenues that can be pursued which may result in a dismissal, major reduction or not guilty verdict of a drunk driving case which include: filing a deviation request, filing a motion to dismiss and/or proceeding to a trial.

Deviation request:  A deviation request is a formal request with supportive material to seek a favorable outcome when the policy of the prosecutor otherwise is against any plea bargain. Our firm utilizes deviation requests extensively in our criminal and drunk driving cases when a client has several positive factors and we feel that the prosecutor will consider a compassionate outcome.

Motion to Dismiss:  Many cases can be won prior to trial with a properly drafted and researched motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss can be filed for a number of reasons including:

  • Suppression of test results (failure to follow protocol in the testing process).
  • Failure to establish an element of the crime (such as operation of the motor vehicle, parked vehicle).
  • Invalid traffic stop.

A motion to dismiss may also result in a plea bargain when the prosecutor does not want to run the risk of holding a hearing on a motion to dismiss.

Trial: Any person accused of a crime, including drunk driving offense, is afforded the right to a trial by the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution. A trial may be held before a judge or jury. The judge or jury  is required to return a verdict of not guilty unless the case is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Detroit 

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 for entertainment and tourism from the suburbs, Canada, other states and countries. Places like the Eastern Market, Greektown, Midtown, Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre, Belle Isle, the DIA casinos, festivals, concerts and restaurants have become major attractions in the City of Detroit.  In addition, all of Detroit’s professional sports teams (Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons) have returned to downtown Detroit.

There are many dimensions to the City of Detroit. Detroit is known for its hard working and hard partying people. It is also a devoted sports town. Detroit is uniquely situated geographically with an international border shared with the Country of Canada which is divided by the Detroit River and accessible by crossing the Ambassador Bridge or Detroit/Windsor Tunnel . Detroit has 3 major casinos and hosts the International Auto Show each year.  The Covid-19 pandemic has been a game changer but Detroit has endured the worst pandemic ever is more vibrant than ever.

36th District Court is the busiest in Michigan

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.

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Winding up in the 36th District Court can be an intimidating place without the guidance of an attorney. Dealing with security on the main floor, locating your court room and attempting to discuss your case with the prosecutor can be overwhelming and sometimes futile. By saying the wrong thing without proper representation, you could wind 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 36th District Court defense attorneys is crucial to navigate you through this major urban court system. Here are a few things that you should know up front about the 36th District Court:

  • Court employees and court officers are prohibited from giving any legal advice.
  • You are not allowed to bring your cell phone into the court building.
  • You will be required to appear for an arraignment and will be unable to make any progress without an attorney.
  • You will be required to appear for a pretrial conference if you are unable to resolve your case at the arraignment.
  • Your case will be handled by either the Wayne County Prosecutor or Detroit City Attorney for purpose of negotiations, plea bargaining and trial.
  • You will be required to pay all fines and costs on the date of your sentence.

Most prevalent crimes handled at the 36th District Court

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 36th District Court. The following is list of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on 36th District Court’s docket:

What to expect at a bond hearing in the 36th District Court

If you are arrested or arraigned for a criminal matter in the 36th District Court, you will appear before either 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.

Crime classification: Misdemeanor or Felony

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.  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. 

Economic and property crimes: Larceny, embezzlement, retail fraud and malicious destruction of property to name a few, are all crimes where the classification (felony or misdemeanor) and potential punishment is dependent upon the amount of property loss. For most property crimes, if the amount involved in $1,000.00 or more, it is classified as felony.

Case results in the 36th District Court

The outcome of a criminal case in the 36th 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

All these special provisions of law are possible in the 36th District Court which can result in the ultimate 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.

Non-Resident or Canadian: If you reside outside of Michigan, consider getting an attorney that is experienced with the 36th District Court system and will provide you with efficient representation.

Drunk Driving Cases in the 36th District Court

Based upon 2016 statistics compiled by the Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police Precincts reported numerous drunk driving cases in the City of Detroit. Law enforcement in the City of Detroit is also provided by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police. There was a total of 11,903 injury crashes in Wayne County with 648 involving alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs. Another 183 fatality crashes were reported with 76 involving alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 36th District Court. 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.

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What does it mean to provide cooperation, snitch or be an informant for the police?

Cooperation, using the little fish to get the big fish, is a major law enforcement tactic utilized everywhere and every day in the United States to gain information that would otherwise be next to impossible to obtain. This practice is also used extensively in the County of Macomb as a means to frustrate illegal drug activity. An offer to cooperate can arise during a criminal investigation or following an arrest or at any stage of a criminal case.

The concept of “cooperation” with the police (also called “snitching” or “acting as an informant”) occurs when the police utilize an individual to obtain information that would otherwise be difficult to discover.  Those asked to provide cooperation are usually in trouble with the law (busted for a drug crime) and are promised consideration in the legal system in return for providing assistance. Assistance is expected to be substantial and typically involves undercover work with narcotics agents or special units. The informant is rarely advised of his or her rights and other options. The informant may later be required to testify as a witness in subsequent court proceedings unless given protection as a confidential informant (CI).

The use of informants by the government has existed for more than a 1,000 years and remains widely used today by the government and the police to:

  • Make other busts, raids, seizures,
  • Support an arrest or search warrant
  • Bolster connections to infiltrate criminal enterprise(s),
  • Flush out targets or bigger fish, and,
  • Make progress in an investigation that is stuck in the mud.

Getting into Something that is Over Your Head

As we explain in this publication, cooperation or snitching, is a tool used by law enforcement officers to combat criminal activity and is most often associated with drug crimes.  Cooperation with the police is seldom ever considered because drug crimes, especially for first offenders, can be resolved with excellent results in most cases without working with the police. In addition, you need the advice of an attorney to explain your legal rights and all of the possible risks associated with cooperation, including the following:

  • Your safety is not assured
  • Your assistance may be declared insufficient by the police
  • Criminal charges may still be pursued against you
  • Cooperation ends when the police say it ends
  • Cooperation may require engaging in bigger drug deals than justified under the circumstances to get a deal in the legal system

Cooperation (snitching) is usually arranged while the accused person is caught red handed while engaged in illegal activity or in police custody for a criminal offense. Unfortunately, the police may use these scenarios as opportunities to take advantage of the situation by threatening prosecution or by persuading the party with incentives to cooperate that include: immediate release from jail and consideration to get all criminal charges dropped. Upon being released from jail, the unwary person will be instructed to contact an undercover officer for further instructions and discouraged from contacting a criminal defense lawyer. An individual that immediately chooses this route is placing his or her trust with the same law enforcement officers that will be testifying for the prosecution should criminal charges later be pursued.

What the Police Won’t Tell You about Cooperation Can Hurt You

The police are not required to give legal advice or explain every other possible option when attempting to engage an individual to become an informant.  The police will not tell you that your case can be worked out without cooperation or that an attorney can fight the case if it is based upon an illegal search. Here are just a few other legal rights that you forego when you agree to cooperate with the police:

In addition to the above, the police won’t tell you that most drug crimes are manageable in the court system with the services of a criminal defense lawyer. Scare tactics are not uncommon as a means to harvest an informant who is lead to believe that there is no hope in the legal system without providing cooperation.  In fact, the majority of offenders are not looking at jail, may be eligible to get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor and have other excellent options to get the charge(s) dismissed pursuant to MCL 333.7411 or HYTA without providing any cooperation whatsoever to the police!

Cooperation in the Federal Court System

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

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

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Every element of a crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt

Every crime is made up of parts that are called elements. When a person is charged with a crime, the prosecutor is saying that there is sufficient evidence to establish each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor does not always get it right.  Many criminal cases result in an acquittal because an essential element of a crime has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt. In this ABDO LAW publication, the element of “possession” is explained in relation to drug crimes.

Illegal possession of drugs may constitute a felony

Possession is a necessary element in drug crimes and property crimes (receiving and concealing stolen property). For a person to found guilty of a drug crime, the prosecutor must establish that a person intentionally and knowingly possessed the illegal drugs in question. Most drug crimes are felonies that carry serious criminal penalties which can include possible jail, substantial fines and driver license suspension:

Drug Crime Maximum Jail Maximum Fine
Possession of MDMA 10 years $2,000.00
Possession of methamphetamine 10 years $2,000.00
Possession of heroin or cocaine 4 years $25,000.00
Possession of analogues 2 years $2,000.00

 

In another article, we explain how drug possession crimes in Michigan (including all Macomb County District Courts) can be dismissed pursuant to MCL 3333.7411.

“Possession” is a necessary element in drug crimes

The term possession has different meanings in the criminal justice system. A person may be charged with possession of drugs if he or she has “actual possession” or “construction possession”. Because the term “possession” has different meanings and the potential for different interpretations, it is often the subject of legal arguments in criminal cases.

Historically, actual possession was required for a conviction of a criminal case with the element of possession. In other words, a person could not be charged with a crime unless he was “caught red handed” with the illegal property. In the 1920s era of liquor prohibition, courts expanded criminal possession to include “constructive possession”.  Constructive possession does not require an individual to have the physical possession of the illegal property.

Possession does not require ownership: Possession is not the same as ownership. Several criminal laws make it a crime to “possess” something that is forbidden or illegal.

Actual possession is what most of us think of as possession, that is, having physical custody or control of an object. Actual possession, also sometimes called possession in fact, is used to describe immediate physical contact. Frequently, a set of facts clearly indicate that an individual has possession of an object but that he or she has no physical contact with it (constructive possession). To properly deal with these situations, courts have broadened the scope of possession beyond actual possession.

Constructive possession is a legal theory used to extend possession to situations where a person has no hands-on custody of an object. Constructive possession is frequently used in cases involving drugs, guns and stolen property in Michigan criminal cases. Constructive possession, also sometimes called “possession in law,” exists where a person has the ability to control the object even if the person has no physical contact with it. For example, people often keep important papers and other valuable items in a bank safety deposit box. Although they do not have actual physical custody of these items, they do have knowledge of the items and the ability to exercise control over them.

Michigan Cases: Interpretation of constructive possession

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

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

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

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Drugs classified from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5 by DEA

Drugs and chemicals used to make drugs are classified into five (5) schedules depending upon the drug’s medical use and the abuse or dependency potential. The abuse rate is a major factor in the scheduling of the drug. Therefore, schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and for severe psychological and/or physical dependence. More information can be found in Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act

Schedule I: Drugs with no currently accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. Some examples are:  heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD),  ecstasy and peyote.

Schedule II: Drugs with a high potential for abuse, with potential to result in severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples are: hydrocodone (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl and Adderall.

Schedule III: Drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Some examples  are: codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

Schedule IV: Drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples are: Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien and Tramadol.

Schedule V: Drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes.

According the United States Code (21 USC 802) a controlled substance “analogue” means a substance which is substantially similar to the chemical structure of a schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance and has a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled substance in schedule I or II.

Possession of analogues is a felony

In Michigan, the offense of possession of analogues is a felony that can carry up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.00, or both. Analogues appeal to those that can no longer get a legal prescription filled and/or have an addiction. Analogues are easily obtainable on the streets or at job sites such as construction sites. Jail and a felony conviction can both be avoided if you are charged with a drug crime such as possession of analogues. Possession of illegal drugs, including analogues and medications without a valid prescription, are all crimes that can be dismissed pursuant to MCL 333.7411.

Defenses to Drug Crimes: Lack of Possession or Knowledge

Crimes are made up of elements. The issue of “possession” is an essential element of a drug crime. You can’t be convicted of a drug crime if you did not have possession. However, a person need not have actual physical possession of a controlled substance to be guilty of possessing it.  Construction possession is another way that you can possess something and be found guilty of a crime. An experienced drug crime lawyer can advise a person charged with a drug crime as to possible defenses which may include:

  • Illegal Search and Seizure
  • Mere Presence at a place where drugs are present
  • Lack of Knowledge
  • Innocent Spouse or Passenger in Vehicle

Michigan Laws allow for dismissal of drug crimes!

In Michigan, possession of analogues is a felony which can be punished by up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.00, or both. Our firm represents a fair share of clients who are arrested or searched and the police find analogues in their possession at the time of arrest. Lately, we are seeing several cases that involve illegal possession of Xanax and Adderall. Surprising, many of our clients can verify a past medical condition or prior prescription. However, if the drugs do not match up to a current prescription, the police will charge the person with illegal possession of analogues. While old medical records and prescriptions are useful in our negotiations, in most cases they will not support an outright dismissal. In addition, it is not a defense to produce a third person’s prescription since you only have the right to possess your own medications!

There are several ways that we can get a drug crime under control. Most drug cases are felonies. Felony representation is a serious matter with a clear goal on our end of getting the felony dismissed! Fortunately, there are ways to do this and there are also ways to get a drug charge dismissed under various provisions of law in every Michigan court:

MCL 333.7411: This provision of law allows for one lifetime dismissal of a drug crime that involves possession or use, not delivery or trafficking.  A person with a prior drug crime or who has used in 7411 is not eligible for this deal.

MCL 762.11: This statute allows youthful offenders to get a drug crime, including one involving delivery dismissed and the record sealed. This provision applies to youthful offenders age 18 but before age 26.

Just about any drug crime can be managed if the offender does not have a serious criminal record and gets help for the underlying drug problem.
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The “bill of rights” spells out the immunities and protections granted to citizens of the United States of America. On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution.  The Second Amendment, the Right to Bear Arms, is contained within the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights also guarantees civil rights and liberties to the individuals such as freedom of speech, press, and religion.

The Rights of the Accused Party in a Criminal Matter 

The cornerstone of personal rights for an individual charged with any criminal offense can be found in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

 

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An alien (non-US citizen) faces deportation for certain crimes such as retail fraud or domestic violence. Among other steps, getting the crime dismissed or amended to a non-deportable crime is the  key to avoiding deportation.

What does INS stand for?

INS  is the abbreviation that stands for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Services. The INS is responsible for handling immigration and naturalization issues. The immigration arm of INS is responsible for the process of a foreign person, alien to the United States, to become a permanent citizen. Becoming a citizen is a complex process. A person that is found guilty of certain crimes may not only be denied citizenship but also face deportation.

What types of crimes can result in deportation?

An individual that is not a United States citizen (alien) may face deportation if convicted of a crime that constitutes either of the following:

According to federal laws, 8 U.S. Code 1227, an alien may be deported for the following: 

  • Crimes of moral turpitude: Any alien who is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years (or 10 years in the case of an alien provided lawful permanent resident status) after the date of admission, and is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, is deportable.
  • Multiple criminal convictions: Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, regardless of whether confined therefor and regardless of whether the convictions were in a single trial, is deportable.
  • Aggravated felony: Any alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission is deportable.
  • High speed flight: Any alien who is convicted of a violation of relating to high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint is deportable.
  • Failure to register as a sex offender is deportable.
  • Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, a crime of stalking, or a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment.
  • Retail fraud (shoplifting).

Can an alien that is convicted of drunk driving or impaired driving be deported?

A conviction of an offense in Michigan for operating while intoxicated (OWI) or impaired driving (OWVI) is NOT a crime that involves moral turpitude and is not deportable.

Can a person be deported upon being convicted of drunk driving or impaired driving?

Deportation is not imposed against an alien convicted of drunk driving or operating while impaired. However, a person convicted of drunk driving that has other criminal convictions may face deportation because of a bad criminal record. In addition, a drunk driving with other aggravating factors may result in deportation. Drunk driving that involves a serious personal injury or death are felonies and are deportable crimes.

Retail Fraud is a deportable offense

A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) is defined as an act that is depraved, dishonest, or vile.  A misdemeanor or felony may constitute a CIMT. Some examples are rape, fraud, murder, arson, and assault with the intention to rob or kill. A person may be deported if convicted of a CIMT within five years of admission to the US or if they commit 2 or more unrelated CIMTs at any time after they are admitted. A petty offense exception may apply if the penalty for the crime is less that 1 year.  In Michigan, the crime of shoplifting is called retail fraud. Retail fraud is a deportable crime in because it is a CIMT that involves dishonesty.

There are ways for an alien that is charged with retail fraud, or other CIMT or aggravated felony, to avoid deportation. The key is to get the CIMT charge amended to one that is a non-deportable crime. There are other measures that need to be taken to avoid the scrutiny of deportation scrutiny. Once the charge is reduced, the original police report cannot be used on the court record as a factual basis to establish the amended outcome.

Criminal charges can have a huge impact on immigration status. Immigration status can be changed Do not hesitate to hire a criminal defense lawyer that understands how to represent aliens facing criminal charges that can . You absolutely need to hire the best criminal defense lawyer if you are not a United States Citizen and you are  charged with a felony or crime involving moral turpitude!

The prosecutor’s consent is required to get a plea bargain, or to get the charge reduced or amended to an offense that does not require deportation. The prosecutor may also need to obtain the consent of the victim. There may be other steps that we would recommend to insure a soft landing which may include: attending a counseling program paying restitution to the retail establishment and obtaining character letters. We have had extremely favorable results representing aliens charged with a CIMT,  such as retail fraud or larceny,  by getting the CIMT dismissed and amending it to a non-deportable charge such as “disturbing the peace” or disorderly conduct.

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