Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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

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

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

George-Floyd

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

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

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

 

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

Crime Classifications/Misdemeanor or Felony

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

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

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

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

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

Macomb County District Courts

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

District-Courts-Macomb-Map

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

Penalties  and Consequences for Misdemeanors

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

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

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

Getting a Misdemeanor Case Under Control

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

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

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

Retail Fraud/Shoplifting Can be Dismissed in Macomb County

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

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

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

Avoiding Traffic Misdemeanors

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

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

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

Operating While Intoxicated 

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

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

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

COVID-19-Advocates-scaled

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

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

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

EMERGENCY POWERS OF GOVERNOR (EXCERPT)

Act 302 of 1945; 10.33 Violation; misdemeanor.

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

– – – – –

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ACT (EXCERPT)

Act 390 of 1976

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

– – – – –

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

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

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

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

COVID-19, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control 

Michigan Executive Order 2020-21 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus – Critical Infrastructure Workers

Sunday, March 29: Latest developments on coronavirus in Michigan

 

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

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

Continue reading ›

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.

Continue reading ›

nautical-mile-sign

The city of St. Clair Shores, in Macomb County,  is nestled between Lake St. Clair along its entire easterly border and I-94 running alongside its western border.  The 40th District Court has jurisdiction over legal matters that arise in the City of St. Clair Shores that include the following:

The 40th District Court is located on the corner of 11 Mile Road and Jefferson: 27701 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 48081, Phone: 586-445-5280. Honorable Mark A. Fratarcangeli and Honorable Joseph Craigen Oster presiding.

St. Clair Shores: Nautical Mile, I-94, I-696

St. Clair Shores is best known for its several miles of coastline on Lake St. Clair. The lake is a big draw for recreation and for many that choose to live in St. Clair Shores. The area has a reputation for its charm and being a safe place to live. St. Clair Shores is the hometown of ABDO LAW partner, Cy M. Abdo.

Most of the recreational activity and action in St. Clair Shores takes place in a dedicated zone known as the Nautical Mile. The Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores, located on Jefferson from 9 Mile Road to 10 Mile Road,  is a Michigan landmark which consists of numerous restaurants, bars, marinas and boat dealers along a one mile stretch of land on the shoreline of Lake St. Clair.

The City of St. Clair Shores has its own police department and the Michigan State Police patrol the I-94 and I-696 interstate expressways.

Criminal Cases in the 40th District Courts: Provisions of Law to Get Dismissals Available!

In 2019, 3116 crimes were reported in the entire city of St. Clair Shores. The following is a list of the most prevalent crimes reported in St. Clair Shores as well as most other Macomb County cities and townships:

 The 40th District Court keeps close tabs on the community to insure safe streets and recreational enjoyment. I would say that both judges take a ‘hands on’ approach to their cases. They use alcohol and drug testing extensively to monitor individuals that are on bond or convicted of an alcohol or drug related offense. Jail is rare for first time offenders. However, you will always want the benefit of an experienced 40th District Court criminal defense lawyer to get the best possible result .

Arraignment and Bond: If you are arrested or arraigned on a criminal matter in the 40th District Court, you will appear either before a magistrate or judge.  If you receive a misdemeanor ticket, your attorney may waive the arraignment and have the matter scheduled for a pretrial conference at a later date. If you have a warrant for your arrest or are otherwise required to personally appear for arraignment, the presence of an experienced St. Clair Shores criminal defense lawyer can a big difference at an arraignment to keep the bond low and keep the bond conditions at a minimum. I have found that Judge Oster, Judge Fratarcangeli and the magistrate will listen to an attorney’s remarks regarding bond which can save potentially thousands of dollars that a bondsman would otherwise cost.  However, even though you are presumed innocent, the 40th District Court will require alcohol and/or drug testing as a condition of bond upon being arraigned and during the pendency of the case.

No-Contact Orders: The 40th District Court will also impose a no-contact order in every case involving domestic violence. When a no-contact order is imposed, it restricts an individual’s right to contact or communicate with the alleged victim, even if they are married. If you find yourself in this position, a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer can file a motion to remove the no-contact order. Violating any bond condition is no joke and can result in jail time while the underlying case is pending.

Alcohol/Drug Testing: Those facing alcohol or drug charges in the 40th District Court will almost automatically be required to engage in testing for alcohol and/or drugs soon after a case enters the court system. Testing will also be imposed on those charged with offenses that involve alcohol or drugs such as disorderly conduct or domestic violence. Urine testing is the preferred means to test for drugs. For alcohol testing, the 40th District Court will consider one of the following:

  • Random breath tests
  • Ankle (SCRAM) continuous monitoring system
  • Soberlink (handheld device connected to cellular service or Wifi)

Once a person is required to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs, the 40th District Court Probation Department will be quick to set up a show cause or violation hearing if a person misses a prompt to provide a breath or urine sample or there are any positive results for any alcohol or drugs. We have represented clients that have faced show cause violations because of alcohol or drug use. A testing violation can also occur where the offender denies any alcohol or drug use and claims that the result was a “false positive”. These situations can usually be resolved with the court when the offender has an action plan to avoid further violations or can show the court that there has not been any use of alcohol or drugs.

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 a huge legal victory.

The outcome of a criminal case in the 40th 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).

In our experience, criminal cases can be resolved favorably at the 40th District Court. All these special provisions of law are possible in the 40th District Court which can result in a dismissal of a criminal matter:

Drunk Driving Cases in the 40th District Court

In 2019, there were approximately 164 arrests for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in St. Clair Shores.  Out of this number, 60 individuals registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or greater and faced  “super drunk driving” or OWI with a High BAC. In 2016, there were about one-third fewer individuals facing “super drunk driving” in St. Clair Shores with only 42 offenders testing with a BAC of .17 or more.

1st offense drinking and driving:  A person without any prior DUI/OWI offenses can expect to get through the court process by getting a plea deal to a reduced charge, with no jail and no loss of license.  In practice, the majority of first time arrests for  OWI (.08 to .16) can be negotiated to a 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.

The 40th District Court Probation Department: 27701 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 48081

The 40th District Court has its own probation department located inside of the courthouse.

It is within the judge’s discretion whether to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a criminal or drunk driving offense. When probation is imposed, the judge may require reporting or non-reporting probation.  The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the district courts is 2 years.

Traffic Violations in the 40th District Court: Reduced to Avoid Points and Record of any Conviction!

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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 40th District Court. The presence of I-94 and I-696 contribute to the traffic volume in St. Clair Shores.  When resolving a traffic matter in the 40th 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

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

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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.

41B District Court Information, Location, Zoom Identification

The 41B District Court is located at 22380 Starks Drive, Clinton Township, Michigan 48038, phone: 586-469-9300.  It 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 are policed by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department. The Court is served by 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 an organization that she spearheaded, Families Against Narcotics (FAN). The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many courts conducting hearings via Zoom which allows participants to appear remotely. The Zoom identification for criminal, drunk driving and traffic matters at the 41B District Court is: 218-957-8812. In our opinion, Zoom hearings are here to stay long after Covid-19 is wiped out.

41B District Court has an expansive jurisdiction that covers Macomb County from Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township to Hayes Road on the Sterling Heights border, and from 14 Mile Road to Hall Road. The area has a diverse mixture of established and newer real estate, shopping centers, Macomb County Community College, county government offices 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. 

Facing legal trouble? Hire a local Clinton Township lawyer because 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.

There’s always a way to resolve a legal predicament. 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:

  • HYTA for youthful offenders (age 17 to 23)
  •  MCL 333.7411 for first time drug offenders
  • MCL 769.a for domestic violence.
  • Delayed Sentence or Deferral

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

The profile of many of our clients facing a retail fraud charge is similar. 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. Our clients with strong ethnic ties worry about losing respect within their ethnic community. Clients that are not US citizens are vulnerable and face 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 it dismissed? If you are in this position, get a Macomb County domestic violence lawyer to explain how you can DO NOT have to plead guilty, 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 if you are charged with a misdemeanor OWI/DUI. 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. Non-reporting probation, reporting probation and counseling may also be imposed depending upon the circumstances. Those with a history of alcohol or substance abuse, or that register a high blood alcohol content (BAC), can expect a longer period of counseling. 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) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain to a lower offense. Using 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 a man or woman that is falsely accused of a crime.

We are here to protect you if you are being mistreated by the system or the prosecutor is trying to nail you for an offense where the facts that are weak or spurious. Unfortunately, once charged, it is not that easy to get a case dropped. Getting a local Clinton Township criminal defense attorney that knows the policies of the 41B District Court and the Macomb Prosecutor’s Office is the best place to start if you are looking to get out of the court system with the best possible outcome. As we said, the judges in this jurisdiction are very fair and have represented individuals that have walked in your shoes. The 41B District Court is a place where you will be given every opportunity for a fair outcome of your case and a fresh start can happen.

The 41-B District Court Probation Department: 22380 Starks Drive, Clinton Township, Michigan 48038

The 41-B District Court has its own probation department located inside of the courthouse.

It is within the judge’s discretion whether to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a criminal or drunk driving offense. When probation is imposed, the judge may require reporting or non-reporting probation.  The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the district courts is 2 years.

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. Probation conditions, such as drug and alcohol testing, can also be scheduled for a modification hearing. In addition, there are many scenarios where we have advocated for ZERO probation, or for an abbreviated period of probation, on behalf of clients that are not likely to re-offend.

Isolated Incident, First Offender, Not Likely to Get Into Trouble Again: An attorney can advocate for lesser probation, non-reporting probation or a short period of probation for clients that are isolated offenders and not likely to get into legal trouble going forward.

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

Disorderly conduct is NOT a civil infraction, it is a criminal misdemeanor, and it is punishable by jail time as well as a fine and court costs. In addition, to possible jail, fines and costs, the following sanctions may also be imposed or court ordered:

  • Up to 2 years probation.
  • Drug and alcohol testing while on bond or probation.
  • Substance abuse/alcohol counseling.
  • Community service.
  • Oakland County WWAM community service.
  • Restitution for any damages or injuries.
  • Municipal response (police) costs.

A night out with friends should not end up as a disaster. It is our job to get your case under control and get you out of the system with minimal consequences and the ability to earn a dismissal of the charge upon compliance,

What is Considered Disorderly Conduct in Royal Oak?

Legally speaking, the City of Royal Oak defines Disorderly Conduct as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courts will Consider Deferring Proceedings and a Dismissal!

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

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

Our Firm is experienced in Royal Oak’s 44th District Court. We have found that its Judges are very realistic, fair, and will listen to well-reasoned arguments. Depending on the circumstances our office may recommend counseling if we believe, based on our experience, that it is necessary or will help facilitate a favorable disposition.
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The stigma and embarrassment associated with a conviction for indecent exposure or gross indecency can last a lifetime. Behavior associated with sexually related crimes is no longer just limited to adult offenders. Juveniles are becoming more sexually active than at any other time with the availability of sexually explicit content on the internet. In addition, much of what occurs in public places is subject to video surveillance which can be preserved as evidence against individuals charged with these crimes. In defending those charged under these statutes, our Macomb County criminal defense attorneys may recommend that our clients engage in counseling as a proactive measure. A positive counseling report can be utilized in the court system to seek a favorable resolution and validate that a particular client is not a predator, is not likely to re-offend and is not a risk to the public or children. Many cases that we have handled in our Macomb County Courts, especially for indecent exposure, qualify as isolated incidents with a low likelihood of being repeated. However,  certain compulsive behavior, such as sex addiction or exhibitionist disorder, may require a regimen of long term counseling.

Indecent Exposure

The offense of indecent exposure is a misdemeanor. MCL 750.335a defines the conduct and penalty for the offense of indecent exposure in Michigan as follows:

(1)  A person shall not knowingly make any open or indecent exposure of his or her person or of the person of another.

(2)  A person who violates subsection (1) is guilty of a crime, as follows:

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b) or (c), the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(b) If the person was fondling his or her genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if the person is female, breasts, while violating subsection (1), the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.

(c) If the person was at the time of the violation a sexually delinquent person, the violation is punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which is 1 day and the maximum of which is life.

Gross indecency is a Felony

The offense of gross indecency is serious felony which can carry 5 years in prison. The offense is covered by MCL 750.338b and provides as follows:

Any male person who, in public or in private, commits or is a party to the commission of any act of gross indecency with a female person shall be guilty of a felony, punishable as provided in this section. Any female person who, in public or in private, commits or is a party to the commission of any act of gross indecency with a male person shall be guilty of a felony punishable as provided in this section. Any person who procures or attempts to procure the commission of any act of gross indecency by and between any male person and any female person shall be guilty of a felony punishable as provided in this section. Any person convicted of a felony as provided in this section shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,500.00, or if such person was at the time of the said offense a sexually delinquent person, may be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which shall be 1 day and the maximum of which shall be life.

Maximum Penalty of Life in Prison if Labeled a Sexually Delinquent Person

Under certain circumstances, indecent exposure or gross indecency can be punished as a felony which can carry a maximum term of life in prison if committed by someone who is classified as a sexually delinquent person. Pursuant to MCL 750.10a, the term “sexually delinquent person”, shall mean any person whose sexual behavior is characterized by repetitive or compulsive acts which indicate a disregard of consequences or the recognized rights of others, or by the use of force upon another person in attempting sex relations of either a heterosexual or homosexual nature, or by the commission of sexual aggressions against children under the age of 16.

Identifying Reasons for Deviant Sexual Behavior

Public displays of nudity may constitute an isolated incident or occur as the result of intoxication.  Indecent exposure in a public place may also be a sign of a psychological problem (exhibitionist). The offense of gross indecency is a more serious offense. Gross indecency cases usually involve a sex act in a public place. In either case, our firm may recommend a counselor for an evaluation and recommendation.

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Drug Crimes, Assault Crimes, Theft Crimes Highest on the List of Most Frequent Felonies in Michigan

Being accused or charged with any crime, misdemeanor or felony, is a serious matter requiring the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer. A crime classified as a felony is invariably worse than a petty crime or misdemeanor. A felony is defined as an offense that can carry more than 1 year in jail up to life in prison. If the offense carries 1 year or less in jail, it is classified as a misdemeanor.  In addition to the possibility of jail/imprisonment, felonies have other consequences including: loss of rights to own or possess firearms, up to 5 years probation, possible term of imprisonment, international travel restrictions and the stigma of a felony conviction.

While researching cases, we came across an  article written by the Michigan Bar Association regarding the Top 50 Felonies Most Frequently Charged in Michigan in the State of Michigan. This list of cases also is consistent with the caseload that our Macomb County criminal defense lawyers see on the dockets of courts located in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and St. Clair counties.

With more than 40 years experience specializing in criminal defense, I can say that the majority of our clients facing felony charges have never committed a prior felony and the underlying conduct supporting the felony charge does not involve egregious misbehavior.  Nonetheless, a felony charge is possible even for offenses involving simple possession or when a theft involves property valued greater than $1,000.00.

Top Felonies in the Metro-Detroit Courts

Pursuant to the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, felonies are broken down into categories that determine the accompanying sentence. Punishment for each class is listed below:

  • Class A – Life imprisonment
  • Class B – Up to 20 years in prison
  • Class C – Up to 15 years in prison
  • Class D – Up to 10 years in prison
  • Class E – Up to 5 years in prison
  • Class F – Up to 4 years in prison
  • Class G – Up to 2 years in prison
  • Class H – Jail or other intermediate sanctions, such as fines

 

Below is a list of the most prevalent felony crimes that we routinely handle in the Metro-Detroit courts and that also that fall within the top 50 felonies in Michigan.

Crime Statistics for Macomb County

The Michigan State Police maintains annual crime reporting statistics for each county in the State of Michigan. For 2017, approximately 50,000 crimes were reported in Macomb County. As criminal defense attorneys in Macomb County, these statistics are meaningful in various ways. The economy, social influences (“me too”), crime waves and police practices are all factors that can have a bearing on crime reporting. Statistics indicate that all larcenies constitute the largest number of crimes reported. Nearly 10,000 larceny related crimes reported which include the following:

  • Larceny from a building
  • Larceny from a motor vehicle
  • Larceny misdemeanors (under $1,000) and Larceny felonies (over $1,000)
  • Theft of motor vehicle parts and accessories

Retail fraud (shoplifting) offenses are not included in the above statistic. Separately, approximately 2,500 retail fraud cases were reported in Macomb County for 2017. Retail fraud is classified as a misdemeanor when the amount involved is under $1,000 and a felony if the amount involved is $1,000 or more. The cities in Macomb County that reported the highest number of retail fraud for 2017 were: Roseville (536), Warren (463), Sterling Heights (425), Chesterfield Township (265)  and Clinton Township (209). The numbers for these cities are not surprising considering that these areas all have large retail centers and stores (Target, Meijer, Kohl’s, Costco, Sam’s, Walmart) within their jurisdiction.

Drug Residue or $1.00 more than $999.00 May Lead to a Felony Charge!

DRUG CRIMES: Simple possession of drugs tops the list of felony crimes in Michigan. The drug crime of possession of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor.  As I have stated, a felony charge may be lodged for unintended behavior. For example, a person may be charged with felony possession of drugs when a police search reveals a minuscule quantity of drug residue. Felony charges can be prosecuted even though the drug residue is unusable, un-measurable and is scraped from a pipe or from the carpet of a vehicle. In researching this matter, I found that the prosecutor in Harris County, Texas has a adopted a policy to avoid prosecuting those found with drug residue. While this is a step in the right direction, Michigan has not adopted this policy. In addition to residue cases, drug charges may be brought against an innocent passenger of a motor vehicle because drugs are found in a compartment or area of the vehicle within reach, possession or view of the passenger(s).

THEFT & PROPERTY CRIMES: Several other felony crimes fall within the theft offense, or property crime category, including retail fraud, embezzlement, credit card fraud, uttering and publishing. A crime can be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony without any intent or deliberation to wind up in that position. For example, if a theft related offense (embezzlement, retail fraud 1st degree) involves a claim of loss of $1,000.00 or more, the prosecutor will bring a felony charge. If the amount of loss is $999.00 or less, it is a misdemeanor. The danger and concern that exists is when the alleged victim makes a claim that is greater than the actual loss. Not all property crimes are dependent upon the property value. Crimes such as uttering and publishing, credit card fraud, larceny in a building, larceny from a motor vehicle constitute felonies without regard to the value of property misappropriated. Michigan State Police statistics for 2017 indicate that more than 7,000 crimes relating to larceny were reported in Macomb County.

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