Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Drug overdose deaths on the rise!

Drug overdose deaths exceed 100,000 per year in the United States

Recently compiled information derived from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicates that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 12-month period ending in April 2021. This represents an increase in drug deaths of 28.5% from the 78,000 deaths during the same period in the prior year. A breakdown of the statistics for this period shows an increase in deaths due to cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine.  In addition, overdose deaths from opioids were 75,674 nationally compared to 56,064 in the prior year. There have been approximately 1,000,000 drug overdose deaths since 1999. 

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License Revocations and Appeals to the OHAO

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

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

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

Appealing a license revocation: Evidence MUST be consistent!

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

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

Link to forms 257 and 258, license appeal hearing

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

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

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

Getting you ready for your hearing

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

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

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

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

Winning your license restoration hearing

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

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

The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major Violations:

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

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

Go for the win the first time!

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

Continue reading ›

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

41B District Court Information, Location, Zoom Identification

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multiple criminal offenses and drunk driving are eligible for expungement

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

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

The following driving offenses are not eligible for expungement:

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

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

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

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

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

Domestic Violence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 41B District Court Probation Department

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like other district courts in Macomb County, I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at the 41B District Court. Gratiot Avenue, Metro Parkway, a stretch of I-94 and Hall Road all contribute to the traffic volume in the 41B District Court.  When resolving a traffic matter in the 41B District Court, we are often able to negotiate a reduction or avoid points. A substantial reduction in a traffic ticket occurs when it is reduced to an offense such as impeding traffic or double parking. A traffic ticket that is reduced to impeding traffic or double parking does not carry any points and will never appear on a person’s driving record! We are also able to get favorable results for individuals charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses such as driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident

Continue reading ›

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41A District Courts: Locations in Shelby Township & Sterling Heights

Macomb County’s 41A District Courts

There are 2 divisions of the 41A District Court in Macomb County which are geographically located directly next to each other but which cover distinctly different geographical regions of Macomb County and each operates under its own set of rules and policies. The fact that they have the same name and that they both come up on searches for the 41A District Court does cause some confusion. Hopefully, this article will settle it once and for all that there are TWO courts called the 41A District Court and what you can expect if you have legal business in these separate and distinct jurisdictions. 41A District Court locations and contact info:

41-A1 District Court, Sterling Heights Division

41-A2 District Court, Shelby Division

Geographical Coverage Map of Macomb County District Courts

The jurisdictional boundaries of the 41A District Courts are expansive. The Sterling Heights division has jurisdiction over the entire city of Sterling Heights from 14 Mile Road to Hall Road. Sterling Heights has its own police department. The Shelby Township division covers a much larger geographical area which includes all of Shelby Township, Macomb Township and the City of Utica. The Shelby division is policed by the Shelby Township Police and the City of Utica Police. Macomb Township employs the Macomb County Sheriff Department for police services as it does not have its own police force. The image below provides a map of the geographical areas covered by each Macomb County District Court:

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Types of Cases Handled in the 41A District Courts

Michigan’s district courts have jurisdiction to handle traffic, criminal and civil proceedings. There are certain limitations to the power the district court has over civil and criminal proceedings.

  • Misdemeanor criminal jurisdiction: The district courts have complete jurisdiction of misdemeanors from arrest warrant, arraignment through trial and sentencing.
  • Felony criminal jurisdiction: The district courts have limited jurisdiction over felony matters which includes arrest warrant, arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination. Felony cases that are not resolved in the district court are moved to the circuit court following a probable cause conference or preliminary examination.
  • Traffic jurisdiction: The  district courts have complete jurisdiction to dispose of traffic matters to their conclusion or final decision.
  • Civil proceedings: The district courts have jurisdiction over civil matters not to exceed $25,000.00. Civil proceedings is excess of $25,000.00 are filed and heard in the circuit courts.

Misdemeanors, felonies and traffic matters are initiated in the district court. Criminal cases are initiated in the court system with an arrest warrant or appearance ticket. For all felonies and most misdemeanors, an arraignment is held in the district court to advise an individual of the charges and to set bond and bond conditions.

Some of the more common criminal matters that are handled in the 41A District Courts include:

What can be expected if I am charged with a crime in the 41A District Courts?

Those with business in the 41A District Courts can expect to be treated fairly by elected judges are compassionate and that will bend over backwards to give an individual a break. The 41A District Courts in both Sterling Heights and Shelby Township utilize all of the statutory first offender programs to facilitate dismissals, including all of the following programs:

Felony cases: If you get charged with a felony, it starts out in the district court. If you get your felony reduced to a misdemeanor, you AVOID A FELONY RECORD and it remains in the district court. Talk to a local experienced criminal defense lawyer to find out how this is even possible.

Drunk driving: If you  are charged with driving under the influence (OWI, OWI with high BAC, etc.) in the 41A District Courts, you are not looking at jail or losing your license for a first offense. Getting a local attorney to fight for the best outcome is your best bet if you are facing a charge for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are many discretionary components of a drunk driving sentence  including: community service, immobilization of vehicle, random testing for alcohol and drugs, reporting or non-reporting probation. Some of these conditions can be avoided by strategic legal planning beforehand.

Traffic tickets: The court clerks are not authorized to give legal advice. They will not tell you that you can fight a traffic ticket arising in Sterling Heights, Shelby Township, Macomb Township or Utica and get it amended to an offense that carries NO POINTS and will NOT BE ABSTRACTED on your driving record. As we say, it is a wise investment to fight every traffic ticket.

Expungements of old crimes and drunk driving: The 41A District Courts have embraced Michigan’s Clean Slate law and are eager to grant expungements to those that are eligible. In addition, for the first time ever, effective February 19, 2022, an individual may file for expungement of a conviction for OWI, Impaired Driving or Super Drunk Driving. When you get a case expunged, you can say: I have never been convicted of a crime!

Probation Departments of the 41A Districts in Sterling Heights & Shelby 

The district courts in Michigan (including the 41-A Districts) have jurisdiction to handle all aspects of a misdemeanor offense (arraignment, trial, sentence). A misdemeanor is defined as an offense which can carry up to 1 year in jail. If the offense carries a penalty greater than 1 year, it is classified as a felony. Probation may be imposed for a maximum period of 2 years for a misdemeanor. When probation is required, it may be ordered to be REPORTING or NON-REPORTING. Non-reporting is always preferred. However, an individual is placed on reporting probation will be required to check in/report with a probation officer at predetermined intervals (monthly, bi-weekly). A motion can be filed to modify probation as explained below.

Probation violations and motions to modify probation

As the Michigan statute says ( MCL 771.4): All probation orders are revocable but revocation of probation, and subsequent incarceration, should be imposed only for repeated technical violations, for new criminal behavior, or upon request of the probationer. Hearings on the revocation must be summary and informal and not subject to the rules of evidence or of pleadings applicable in criminal trials.

Probation violations can result in jail time and the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer is essential. Upon being found guilty of violating probation, the Judge can sentence a person to the maximum remaining jail time which has not been served. Failure to comply with any of the conditions of probation will lead to a probation violation hearing and possible termination of probation and jail. Here are a few scenarios that can result in a probation violation:

  • Getting charged with another crime
  • Failing to report as directed
  • Leaving the State of Michigan without permission
  • Missing or failing a drug or alcohol test
  • Failure to pay fines/costs
  • Failure to attend counseling

If you have been compliant with probation (no violations, completed all programs, paid all fines), you may be eligible to file a motion to terminate or modify probation. In filing a motion to terminate or modify probation, you will want to give your attorney proof that you completed any programs, community service and paid all fines and costs. If you intend to file a motion to modify or terminate probation, our firm recommends that you wait until you have served 50% of your probation term. To get the case before the Judge at the half way point, we would recommend that you get started a few weeks beforehand with your lawyer. Continue reading ›

youthful offender

Effective October 1, 2021

HYTA is available for youthful criminal offenders ages 18 – before age 26

This is why HYTA dispositions for criminal offenses are such a big deal:

  • The court does not enter a judgment of conviction,
  • The record is sealed,
  • You do not need to disclose the offense if asked if you have a conviction, and
  • The case is dismissed upon compliance with conditions laid out by the court!  

Michigan’s  newest version of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) goes into effect on October 1, 2021. Prior to October 1, 2021, HYTA applied only to individuals under the age of 24. The latest rendition of Michigan’s HYTA statute provides youthful adult offenders (ages 18 but before age 26) with an opportunity to keep a criminal offense, including serious felonies, off of his or her permanent criminal record.  Dismissals pursuant to HYTA means that the offender avoids the stigma and public record of a criminal conviction. Subject to some exceptions, HYTA is available for most felonies and misdemeanors. A conviction is not required to be disclosed on an application for employment or education when an individual is given HYTA status. HYTA status can be taken away if an individual fails to comply with the terms and conditions ordered by the court.

HYTA is not available for juveniles (under age 18) or for offenders that are age 26 or older. However, there remain many other provisions of law that can benefit juveniles and adult offenders.

How do you get a HYTA disposition? Rule #1: HYTA applies only for those age 18 but before age 26!

Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer can mean the difference between getting HYTA or winding up with a conviction. Although HYTA requires a formal “plea of guilty”, the court does not enter a judgment of conviction and Michigan State Police records are sealed as soon as the court assigns an individual to HYTA status.

The are several parties to a HYTA disposition including the judge assigned to the case, the defense attorney, the prosecutor and the defendant. The crime victim and charging police agency may also have input when HYTA is requested.  According to the HYTA law (MCL 762.11), the prosecutor shall consult with the victim regarding the applicability of this section. The consent of the prosecutor may be required depending upon the age of the defendant at the time of the alleged offense:

  • Prosecutor’s consent is not required  for offenses committed on or after the offender’s 18th birthday but before his or her 21st birthday.
  • Prosecutor’s consent is mandatory for offenses committed on or after the offender’s 21st birthday but before his or her 26th birthday.

HYTA is not guaranteed and may be rejected by the court. Hiring an attorney that knows the laws and has excellent skills dealing with local judges, police and prosecutors is vital for those that want the best possible advantage in the legal system.

You can get HYTA more than once and other helpful information

The HYTA law has many special features including the following:

  • There is no limit on the number of cases which may be placed on HYTA status.
  • Juvenile offenders (under age 18) are not eligible for HYTA but may be eligible for a disposition in the juvenile system with the same result such as diversion or consent calendar.
  • HYTA is not guaranteed and may be rejected by the judge even if the prosecutor, police and victim consent.
  • HYTA may include jail, probation, counseling and restitution to any victims.
  • The court may require an individual that is given HYTA status to be drug/alcohol tested, maintain employment or attend high school.

The following offenses are not eligible for HYTA

The essence of HYTA is that it allows for eligible criminal offenses committed by youthful offenders to be dismissed and sealed. HYTA is available for most misdemeanors and felonies. However, the HYTA statute lists various offenses which are not eligible for HYTA status as follows:

  • Traffic offenses
  • Drunk driving
  • Major controlled substance offenses
  • Most offenses that under the criminal sexual conduct statute
  • A felony for which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for life.

Charged with one of the above ineligible offenses? Talk to a lawyer about ways to negotiate a plea bargain for a lower offense that qualifies for HYTA status!

HELP: Will anything show up on my record if my case is dismissed under HYTA status?

Our attorneys are asked this question every single day. As we have explained, HYTA specifically says that upon the court’s acceptance of HYTA status, there is no adjudication of guilt, the record is sealed and the case is dismissed upon compliance with any conditions spelled out by the court. The benefit of HYTA cannot be overstated. It is an excellent deal which we have used to get thousands of criminal charges DISMISSED. As far as the record of an individual is concerned after getting a case dismissed upon compliance with a HYTA disposition, we can only say that it will be sealed by the court and the Michigan State Police and the public will not be able to view your record.  Should anyone contact the court about your record after HYTA has been granted, the court employees are instructed to say: “THERE IS NO PUBLIC RECORD” and “THE EXISTENCE OF HYTA RECORDS CANNOT BE DISCLOSED“.

Unfortunately, HYTA protection is limited and does not mean that your record is destroyed, disintegrates or vanishes.  The history of all criminal cases, including those disposed of pursuant to HYTA status, are forever maintained by the court, FBI and Michigan State Police. In addition, Michigan law gives  certain entities (courts, law enforcement) access to HYTA records that would otherwise be classified as non-public. In addition to law enforcement agencies, other entities are also given access to HYTA records including: financial institutions, educational institutions, utility companies, and health care companies.

Most prevalent crimes are eligible for HYTA

Most non-traffic misdemeanors and felonies are eligible for HYTA status. HYTA status is available for all of the following common criminal offenses:

Although traffic crimes are not eligible for HYTA, we are often able to get them amended to avoid traffic points and a criminal conviction. HYTA is not available in the federal court system. However, the federal court system does have programs, such as diversion, that allows for a federal crime to be dismissed.

Can you lose HYTA status once it is granted by the court

A person that is given HYTA status remains on HYTA status until the end of a period of probation. There are always some rules and conditions that the court will impose for individuals that are given HYTA status. Violation of any rule or condition imposed by the court can result in losing HYTA status, abstracting the criminal conviction and imposition of further sentencing which could include jail. Getting charged with another crime while on HYTA status will always constitute a violation.  When a person is violated, the court will conduct a hearing to determine if a person will retain or lose his or her HYTA status.  In my opinion, most judges do not like to take away a person’s HYTA status and I would say that a judge will usually bend over backwards to allow a person to stay on HYTA. A HYTA violation  is a serious matter that requires a solid plan ahead of time that can make a difference in keeping or losing HYTA status. However, keeping HYTA status may have consequences such as serving some time in jail. Do not hesitate to consult with an attorney if you find yourself in this position.

Other Michigan provisions which are similar to HYTA

There are other laws which can be used in Michigan to get a criminal case dismisssed or under control which include: which can be resolved by laws which are similar to HYTA. They are as follows:

MCL 769.4a is used to get domestic violence offenses dismissed.

MCL 333.7411 is used to get drug crimes dismissed.

MCL 780.621 is Michigan’s “Clean Slate” or expungement law.

Continue reading ›


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Actual Image of Michigan Application to Set Aside/Expunge Conviction (MC227)

There are several reasons that you might need to know how to obtain your criminal record. You might need to obtain your criminal record to accurately fill out an application for employment or college. An attorney may want to do a background check if you are under a criminal investigation or being charged with a criminal matter. In addition, upon filing an expungement, an attorney is required to request the criminal history of the applicant.

How to order a copy of your criminal record

stealing-from-walmart-self-checkout

Retail fraud can occur by concealing property,

by engaging in certain fraudulent activity or bypassing a checkout scanner.  

41A District Courts: Locations in Sterling Heights and Shelby Township

Criminal cases which occur in Sterling Heights, Shelby Township, Macomb Township and Utica are handled at one of the above 41A District Courts. The Shelby Township location has jurisdiction over cases that occur in Shelby Township, Macomb Township and Utica.  41A District covers a large geographical area in the County of Macomb with two court locations: 

There are numerous retail establishments and shopping corridors situated within the jurisdiction of the 41A District Courts.  In addition to Lakeside Mall, there are numerous other national retailers and big box stores located on the M-59 corridor and on major shopping corners and centers throughout Sterling Heights, Shelby Township, Utica and Macomb Township including Sam’s, Meijer, Walmart, Kmart, CVS, Home Depot, Lowes Home Improvement, Target and Kohls.

The courts, police and prosecutor will not give you legal advice!

This publication is based upon our law firm’s extensive experience practicing criminal law in the 41A District Courts. Do not hesitate to hire a lawyer to protect your rights if you are being accused or charged with a crime. The courts, police and prosecutor will not give you legal advice.

Retail Fraud is Shoplifting: Possible arrest on the spot or released and notified of a court date

The crime of shoplifting, which is called retail fraud in Michigan, is one of the most prevalent crimes that we see in both of the 41A District Courts as well as every other district court in Macomb County!

Retailers use a variety of resources to deter theft and identity shoplifters. The offense of shoplifting, or retail fraud, occurs when a person does any one of the following acts with an intention to steal property from a retail establishment:

  • Conceals property on his or her person, or otherwise, with the intent to steal.
  • Changes a price tag or label with the intent to create or cause a misleading transaction.
  • Attempts to defeat the self scanning checkout system.

After identifying a shoplifter, the loss prevention employee will obtain identification and detain the suspected party unless apprehension and detention is dangerous or met with resistance. Insofar as possible, loss prevention employees are trained to avoid confrontations which could result in personal injuries or liability to the retailer.  The shoplifter may be held in custody until a bond is posted or released and  notified of a court date in about 30 days.

Once apprehended for retail fraud, one of the following scenarios may occur:

  • The police are called to the scene and the person may be arrested, booked and released on bond until a court date is scheduled.
  • The person may be released and notified by mail once the case is within the court system.
  • The person may be issued a ticket or notice to appear in court within 10 days or on specified date.

Video Evidence of Self Scanner Fraud: Getting caught red handed is one way that shoplifters get nabbed.  Reviewing video footage of a particular customer’s shopping activity is another way that retail fraud offenders are flushed out.  If a customer is suspected of retail fraud, particularly at a self checkout scanner, a loss prevention officer may track the customer’s credit card transactions and match them up with the video of the person’s checkout activity. If the customer is seen placing items in a bag, or bypassing the checkout scanner, without paying for the items, the customer may be charged with retail fraud. The following are a few ways people steal at self checkout terminals:

  • Failing to scan items, usually of greater value (leaving them in a shopping cart).
  • Placing an item in a bag or in the bagging area without scanning it.
  • Creating confusing to distract store employees.

Multiple charges may be levied against a single customer if the video evidence reveals several illegal transactions. The transactions may be combined to charge an individual with multiple crimes or the separate transactions may be consolidated to elevate the crime to a felony if the amount involved is $1,000.00 or more.

The evidence in a retail fraud case will consist of the police report, any witness statements, confession of the accused party and any photographic or video evidence of the incident. Employees and loss prevention officers of the retail establishment will be asked to cooperate with the prosecutor and the court system in later proceedings against the accused party.

Penalties for Retail Fraud: Criminal Record, Possible Deportation

Retail fraud in the first degree is a felony. Retail fraud in the second and third degree are misdemeanors. Retail fraud is a crime of dishonesty which could result in a permanent criminal record if not handled by an experienced retail fraud lawyer. Retail fraud is also considered a crime involving moral turpitude which can result in deportation for non US citizens. Thus, a person who faces retail fraud charges should hire a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can provide invaluable sound legal advice and a strategy which could keep result in a dismissal of the offense, depending upon the circumstances and the prior criminal record of the offender.  The penalties for retail fraud are:

  • Retail Fraud First Degree: If the value of the merchandise is $1,000.00 or more, up to 5 years in prison and/or fine up to $10,000.00, or 3 times the value of merchandise.
  • Retail Fraud Second Degree: If the value of the merchandise is $200 but under $1,000.00, up to 1 years in jail and/or fine up to $2,000.00, or 3 times the value of merchandise.
  • Retail Fraud Third Degree: If the value of the merchandise is under $200,up to 93 days in jail and/or fine up to $500.00, or 3 times the value of merchandise.

Michigan Law provides that a person who commits an act for which he or she could be charged with retail fraud is liable to the merchant for the full retail price of un-recovered property or recovered property that is not in salable condition, and civil damages of 10 times the retail price of the property, but not less than $50.00 and not more than $200.00.

In addition, the court can order restitution at the time of sentencing. Restitution is compensation for a victim’s losses.

Retail Fraud Cases DISMISSED!

You are not alone if you facing a shoplifting charge. Some of our clients say that they are happy when they got caught because it (shoplifting) was getting out of control. Others do not have a history of shoplifting but committed the offense on an impulse or desperation. Having a lawyer by your side is your best bet to insure that your rights are protected and to avoid saying the wrong thing that can hurt your case in the legal system. Don’t convince yourself that you can outsmart the legal system.  First of all, based upon our experience handling retail fraud cases in the 41A District Courts, 100% of of first time retail fraud offenders are eligible for

If you are charged with a first offense for retail fraud, a disposition for a dismissal is a realistic goal. Based upon our experience, more than 95% of all retail fraud cases are resolved without a trial. There are several provisions of law which we can use to get a retail fraud case case dismissed including: 

  • HYTA allows youthful offenders to get a dismissal and the record sealed from public view.
  • Juveniles, age 17 or under, may be eligible for consent calendar to get a criminal charge dismissed, sealed and with no record created.
  • Adult offenders may be eligible to get a retail fraud deferred and dismissed under a special provision of law.
  • For aliens (non US citizens), our goal is to get the charge amended to a non-deportable offense.

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Detroit 

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

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

36th District Court is the busiest in Michigan

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

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

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

Most prevalent crimes handled at the 36th District Court

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

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

If you are arrested or arraigned for a criminal matter in the 36th District Court, you will appear before either a magistrate or judge.  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at an arraignment hearing by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions upon a person’s release from jail. Drug and alcohol testing are common bond conditions for those charged with any crime involving drugs or alcohol. A ‘no-contact order‘ is assured in assault cases, domestic violence, sex crimes and all other crimes involving a victim. In retail fraud cases, the accused party may be instructed to refrain from entering the establishment where the alleged shoplifting occurred. A motion for a hearing can always be filed to modify bond conditions, remove a no-contact order or eliminate travel restrictions.

Crime classification: Misdemeanor or Felony

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

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

Case results in the 36th District Court

The outcome of a criminal case in the 36th District Courts is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:

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

All these special provisions of law are possible in the 36th District Court which can result in the ultimate dismissal of a criminal matter:

Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration for plea deals to get a dismissal under certain circumstances.

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

Drunk Driving Cases in the 36th District Court

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

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 36th District Court. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

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

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain for a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, not just a Super DUI.

Repeat DUI Offender: A repeat drinking and driving offender may be looking at a longer period of probation, up to 2 years, with the possibility of some jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in almost every court.

Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison.  Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation ONLY if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. Click here for more information on felony procedure.

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Social Security, Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income

Social Security benefits are paid to eligible individuals that have attained the minimum retirement age, 62 or older. To be eligible for Social Security, an individual must have the requisite number of credits. Social Security credits are calculated based on an individual’s earnings and number of working years. A person is required to have 40 credits which are earned over a period of 10 year period. A person can earn no more than 4 credits a year. In 2021, a person may earn one Social Security or Medicare credit for every $1,470 in covered earnings each year. A person must earn $5,880 to get the maximum four credits for the year. The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit may change each year.

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are paid to individuals that have earned the required amount of credits for Social Security but have not reached the minimum retirement age and have become disabled.

Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) is a Federal program which is not funded by Social Security taxes. It provides monthly benefits to individuals to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. The base monthly federal amount varies depending on your living arrangement and income.

Social Security Benefits are Suspended During the Months of Imprisonment

Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are not payable during the months that an individual is imprisoned for conviction of crime. All benefits, except Medicare and Medicaid, are suspended upon imprisonment for more than 30 continuous days.  Benefits can be reinstated starting with the month following release from any further incarceration. Although you can’t receive monthly Social Security benefits while you’re incarcerated, benefits will continue to your spouse for children that remain eligible. SSI benefits are also suspended during a period of incarceration for more than 30 continuous days.

Social Security Benefits are Resumed Upon Release from Jail or Prison

Social Security benefits, including SSI and disability benefits, will resume in the month that a person in released from jail or prison.  The payments will not start automatically. If benefits have been suspended,  a request must be made to have them reinstated. In addition, a copy of release documents must be obtained to facilitate coverage without any lapse.

Medicare or Medicaid Benefits 

Eligibility for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) continues without any gap in coverage while you’re in prison. On the other hand, to keep Part B (Medical Insurance) activated, monthly premiums must be paid or coverage will be terminated.  If coverage is interrupted because of incarceration and non payment of Medicare premiums, an application may be filed during the subsequent General Enrollment Period.

Avoiding Criminal Convictions and Jail

If you are charged with a crime, don’t expect the police, the prosecutor or court employees to help you. They do not represent you and unless they advise you to hire a lawyer, you may end up steering yourself into a brick wall. The good news is that most judges in the State of Michigan do not impose jail for the most prevalent crimes. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can explain how a misdemeanor or felony conviction and jail can be avoided. There are also special provisions of law to protect the rights of first time offenders and even for those with a prior criminal record.

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

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

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

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

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

Getting into Something that is Over Your Head

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooperation in the Federal Court System

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

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

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