Articles Posted in Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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George-Floyd

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

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

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

COVID-19-Advocates-scaled

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

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

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

EMERGENCY POWERS OF GOVERNOR (EXCERPT)

Act 302 of 1945; 10.33 Violation; misdemeanor.

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

– – – – –

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ACT (EXCERPT)

Act 390 of 1976

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

– – – – –

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

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

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

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

COVID-19, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control 

Michigan Executive Order 2020-21 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus – Critical Infrastructure Workers

Sunday, March 29: Latest developments on coronavirus in Michigan

 

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

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

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District-Courts-Macomb-Map

MAP OF MACOMB COUNTY DISTRICT COURTS

In 2019, Over 8,000 crimes reported in the cities of Eastpointe, Fraser and Roseville

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

The 38th District Court (known as the Eastpointe Court) and the 39th District Court (known as the Roseville Court), are neighboring district courts in the southeastern part of Macomb County. The 39th District Court in Roseville has jurisdiction over the cities of Roseville and Fraser. Districting is based upon several factors which include density and traffic. As the above map illustrates, these districts are relatively small in relation to other districts in Macomb County. Eastpointe and Roseville cover a combined geographic area of approximately 25 square miles, compared to the 42-1 District in Romeo which encompasses an area of 180 square miles and other cities and townships.

  • 38th District Court is located at 16101 Nine Mile, Eastpointe, Michigan 48021. Serviced by 1 Judge with jurisdiction for the City of Eastpointe.
  • 39th District Court is located at 29733 Gratiot Avenue, Roseville, Michigan 48066.  Serviced by 3 Judges with jurisdiction for the City of Roseville and the City of Fraser.

The Eastpointe Police, Roseville Police and Fraser Police provide law enforcement services to the areas covered by the 38th and 39th District Courts.

  • Gratiot Avenue runs through both districts and is patrolled by both the Eastpointe and Roseville Police.
  • A stretch of I-94 and I-696 in Roseville are the responsibility of the Michigan State Police.
  • 8 Mile Road: The Eastpointe Police and Detroit Police monitor this shared border.
  • The Fraser Police monitor activity East of Hayes from 13 Mile Road to 15 Mile Road.

All of the above mentioned roads and expressways generate a considerable mixture of  local, commuting, retail and connecting traffic.

The information in this publication is based upon the experience of our Eastpointe and Roseville criminal defense lawyers.

Criminal Cases in the 38th and 39th District Courts: Provisions of Law to Get Dismissals Available!

There were a total of 8,014 criminal incidents reported by the neighboring cities of Eastpointe, Fraser and Roseville in 2019. The breakdown of crimes reported for each city is as follows:

  • Fraser 866 crimes reported
  • Eastpointe 2,992 crimes reported
  • Roseville 4,156 crimes reported

The majority of these crimes reported in the cities of Eastpointe, Fraser and Roseville involved assault, larceny, drugs and retail fraud. The following is list of the most prevalent misdemeanor and felony cases that we regularly see on the 38th and 39th District Court dockets:

Purpose of Arraignment and Bond: If you are arrested or arraigned for a criminal matter in the 38th District Court or the 39th District Court, you will appear before either a magistrate or judge for purpose of formal arraignment. The following will occur at an arraignment:

  • Charges are read to the defendant.
  • Defendant is advised of rights (to an attorney, to a trial, etc.).
  • For all felony matters, the defendant is given court dates for probable cause conference and preliminary examination.
  • For misdemeanor offenses, the defendant MAY be given a date for a pretrial conference or it will be scheduled at a later date (by mail).
  • The defendant MAY be instructed to provide finger prints.
  • Bond will be determined by the judge or magistrate.

WHENEVER POSSIBLE, it is advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at an arraignment hearing by advocating for a low bond and keeping the bond conditions under control.

Bond Condition: EVEN THOUGH PRESUMED INNOCENT,  bond conditions restrict and limit the personal freedom of an individual.   Depending on the circumstances of each case, the following are common bond conditions:

  • No out of state travel (without permission from the court)
  • No contact order (used extensively with respect to domestic violence and assault crimes)
  • GPS Monitoring (used extensively for those charged with sex crimes involving minors).
  • Testing for drugs and alcohol (wearing a monitor, random testing)
  • No possession of firearms
  • No consumption of marijuana or alcohol even though otherwise legal

Again, retaining a local Roseville or Eastpointe criminal defense lawyer can make a big difference in the outcome of the arraignment. It always helps when we can collect background and prepare for the arraignment ahead of time to avoid harsh bond conditions. For this reason, we advise our clients to contact us immediately if they believe the court has an arrest warrant.

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

The outcome of a criminal case in the 38th and 39th District Courts, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:

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

All of these special provisions of law are possible in the 38th District Court and the 39th 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 favorable dispositions in the 38th and 39th District Courts.

High Number of Drunk Driving Cases in the 38th District Court and the 39th District Court

Based upon 2019 statistics, more 130 individuals were tested for alcohol or drugs in connection with suspicion for operating while intoxicated by the Eastpointe, Roseville and Fraser Police Departments:

  • Eastpointe:  58 breath & blood tests for DUI/OWI
  • Fraser:  35 breath & blood tests for DUI/OWI
  • Roseville:  54 breath & blood tests for

Blood is tested for both alcohol and drugs and is not included in the above summary of DUI cases in the 38th and 39th Districts. The actual number of DUI cases is higher when blood results for alcohol and drugs are factored into the totals. The above numbers confirm a high number of DUI cases in these districts. Traffic generated on the expressways, Gratiot Avenue and 8 Mile Road are all contributing factors.

APPROXIMATE DRINK – WEIGHT INDEX CHART FOR MALES AND FEMALESDUI_Image

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 38th and 39th District Courts. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

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

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain to a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, 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 Macomb County court.

Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison.  Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. We evaluate every DUI 3rd for opportunities to get it reduced to a misdemeanor by filing strategic legal motions, negotiations and filing a deviation request.

Traffic Violations in the 38th and 39th District Courts: Reduced to Avoid Points and Record of any Conviction!

Several police agencies have an active presence monitoring the activity of vehicular traffic within the jurisdiction of the 38th and 39th District Courts.  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 these Courts. When resolving a traffic matter in the 38th and 39th District Courts, 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.

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

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