Articles Posted in Juvenile Cases

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.

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Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court

The Macomb County Juvenile Court is located at the Old Macomb County Building at 10 North Main, Mt. Clemens, Michigan 48043: Most matters are heard at this building before a referee. 

Juvenile delinquency cases are akin to criminal cases in the adult system.  When a minor (age 16 or under) is charged with a crime (Michigan Penal Code), the case will be referred to Juvenile Court in the county where the child resides; not to the adult criminal courts. If found guilty, the juvenile may not be placed in adult prison.  The main focus of this publication will pertain to “juvenile delinquency cases” with emphasis on our firm’s experience in the Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court.

The Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court is located at 10 North Main, Mt. Clemens, Michigan 48043.  When a case is filed, it is assigned to one of the referees.  The job of a referee involves working with the attorney, the juvenile, the family, the prosecutor, the case worker and the victim. In our experience, more than 90% of all juvenile cases are resolved at this level. Depending upon the circumstances and the prior record of the offender, there are a variety of resolutions that are possible in the juvenile system. Diversion and consent calendar are extremely favorable proceedings which do not result in any finding of ‘guilt’ and the charge(s) are eventually dismissed.  A juvenile that enters a plea of guilty or is found guilty faces a range of dispositions that are suited for the particular individual such as: probation, house arrest, drug testing, counseling and in extreme cases detention. Referees may also conduct trials if agreed upon by the juvenile defense attorney, prosecutor and referee. The juvenile also has a constitutional right to have a jury trial. In Macomb County, jury trials are held at the Macomb County Circuit Court Building before the Circuit Court Judge assigned to the case.

Crimes by Persons Age 16 or Younger Treated as Juveniles

  • Age 16 and younger: Generally, someone under age 17 who commits a crime is treated as a “juvenile”. Juvenile cases which involve criminal activity are referred to as delinquency cases and are handled in the juvenile court. In certain cases, a juvenile case may be waived to the adult criminal court. Juvenile offenders may also be eligible for a dismissal of the offense depending upon the circumstances.
  • Waiver of juveniles to adult criminal court: Pursuant to MCL 712A.4, upon motion by the prosecuting attorney and a hearing before the court, a juvenile 14 years of age or older, accused of a felony, may be tried as though he or she were an adult. The statute further provides: “the court shall conduct a hearing to determine if the best interests of the juvenile and the public would be served by granting a waiver of jurisdiction to the court of general criminal jurisdiction.”  In making its determination, the court shall consider several factors, giving greater weight to the seriousness of the alleged offense and the juvenile’s prior record of delinquency than to the other criteria.
  • Age 17 and older: At age 17 and beyond, a person is treated as an adult for his or her criminal conduct. In our website, we explain the availability of HYTA for offenders that are age 17 but under age 24. HYTA is a status that is negotiated which can result in an offense being dismissed and the record forever sealed.

More Drug Crimes, Sex Crimes & False Bomb/Terrorism Threats

Our Macomb County defense attorneys have seen an increase in juvenile delinquency cases for crimes involving drugs, sexual activity and false bomb/terrorism threats.  Protecting our children from the outside world is becoming more difficult than ever.  Juveniles are faced with many forces of distraction and temptation.  Hard street drugs, marijuana and addictive prescribed medications are easily obtainable. In addition, the internet and cable television allows our children to access pornography and negative programming which shapes their values about sexuality and violence.  Juveniles that are unpopular or impulsive may use social media to post threatening messages that can result in serious criminal charges; false threats of terrorism/bomb threats.

Drug crimes, sex crimes and false threats of terrorism are all cases that are potentially manageable in the juvenile system.  Depending upon the circumstances, we may recommend a psychological profile to rule out predatory or violent behavior.  For cases involving false threats of terrorism/bomb threats, we always ask for character letters from family members, neighbors, teachers and members of the community that can attest to the positive qualities and good nature of our juvenile client.

Cases Involving Allegations of Sex Crimes against Juveniles

The lives of every family member is torn apart and turned upside down when a loved one is accused with a sex crime. A juvenile may be charged with a sex crime for possession of sexual images, transferring sexual images (sexting) or inappropriate behavior with a family member or non-family member.  The age of consent in Michigan is 16 for sexual activity. Therefore,  consent is not a defense to a sex crime when the victim is age 15 or younger under any circumstances, even if the victim lied about her age!

When a juvenile is accused of an inappropriate sexual incident, the parents are typically first notified by a detective.  The detective may have received a complaint from an individual or from a party under a duty to report the incident such as a physician, counselor or school personnel.  Once notified that a juvenile is accused of a sex crime, there are many steps that can be taken to prepare the juvenile and the juvenile’s family for action by the police, Child Protective Services intervention and juvenile court proceedings.

We believe in proactive management of cases when a juvenile is accused or charged with a sex crime. Our juvenile sex crime plan may include the following:

  • Advising the family and juvenile of constitutional right to remain silent (discussed below).
  • Cleaning up social media pages, cell phones (discussed below).
  • Advising the family and juvenile to refer any matters relating the allegations to their attorney.
  • Advising the family and juvenile regarding a strategy to deal with Child Protective Services.
  • Advising the family and juvenile regarding a strategy to deal with the law enforcement agency conducting an investigation.
  • Advising the family and juvenile regarding polygraph examinations.
  • Advising the family and juvenile regarding the Macomb County Juvenile Court Intake Process.
  • Sex specific psychological profile and counseling services to rule out predatory tendencies or future risk to others.
  • Sex specific and psychological counseling services for juveniles that have an underlying problem.
  • What to do if the alleged offense involves another minor child in the household.
  • Identifying cases that may be based upon lies by the alleged victim.
  • Taking an approach to avoid a sex-crime and the Sex Offender Registry (SORA)

How would you deal with any of the above legal and personal issues? Getting a lawyer as soon as you learn of an investigation can make a huge difference in the ultimate result of a juvenile sex crime case and help you regain your sanity.

Police May Attempt to Obtain a Confession

Prior to the issuance of a petition within the Macomb County Juvenile Court, the police may attempt to obtain a confession or statement from the juvenile suspect. The juvenile has all of the rights as an adult and would be urged to remain silent until an attorney can be secured. An attorney can often make recommendations as to whether or not cooperation with the police is an appropriate course of action. It may not always be plausible to have an attorney on hand when the police confront a juvenile since the police prefer to catch a suspect off balance.

 Juvenile Cases Begin with a Police Report and a Petition

 If criminal activity of a juvenile is brought to the attention of the police or authorities, a report is generated and submitted to the prosecutor. If the conduct of the juvenile supports a criminal offense, the prosecuting attorney can file a petition in the juvenile court. In Macomb County, juvenile cases are evaluated by the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office. If the petition is approved, the juvenile may be detained pending an arraignment.

Juvenile Cases are Filed in the County Where the Juvenile Resides

Unlike adult criminal cases which are filed in the jurisdiction where the offense occurred, juvenile cases are filed in the county where the juvenile resides. Thus a juvenile that is a resident of Shelby Township, Sterling Heights or Washington Township would have his or her case heard in the Macomb County Juvenile Court even if the alleged criminal offense occurred outside of Macomb County.

Right to Jury Trial

The juvenile is entitled to a trial if a case is not resolved by other attempts.  Trials may be heard by the referee or by the Judge that is assigned to the case. However, the juvenile in a delinquency matter has a right to a jury trial pursuant to the United States Constitution. Trials in the juvenile system are handled pursuant to the Michigan Rules of Evidence.

Text Messaging, Photographs and Social Media Sites May Be Incriminating

Upon being retained, we will advise our juvenile clients to refrain from drawing any negative attention. By this, we may insist that our client refrain from texting or posting anything on social networks such as Facebook or Instagram. In addition, we may advise our client to remove any incriminating or unbecoming photographs which are posted on the internet. We may even recommend that our client shut down any social media internet sites while under investigation or the subject of a delinquency case.

Resolution of Juvenile Cases: Dismissals, Avoiding Felony Record, Avoiding Sex Crime

The juvenile court system is similar to the adult criminal system when fashioning a resolution. There are several variables that the prosecutor, probation officer and court will take in to consideration:

  • Any prior juvenile record (convictions or prior petitions in the court system)
  • The school, home and community record of the juvenile.
  • Whether the juvenile is incorrigible and/or habitually truant.
  • Whether the juvenile is addicted to drugs or alcohol and not responding to treatment.
  • Whether the juvenile has violent propensities or is a sexual predator.
  • The juvenile’s steps towards improvement during the pendency of the underlying case.
  • Whether the existing home is suitable for the juvenile to improve.

Dispositions: A juvenile that scores negatively with the court system can wind up in the youth home or face long term placement. Conversely, the Macomb Juvenile Court system is one that will consider community supervision (probation) and positive dispositions such as:

  • Diversion whereby a conviction is never entered and the case is eventually dismissed.
  • Consent Calendar with probation and dismissal upon compliance.
  • Avoiding a felony conviction.
  • Avoiding a conviction for a crime of dishonesty (larceny) or violence (assault).
  • Avoiding a sex crime conviction.
  • Avoiding the Sex Offender Registry.
  • Setting up a plea bargain for future expungement.

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Technically, juvenile cases are not considered criminal. However, juvenile cases, along with the responsibilities of an attorney representing a juvenile, are akin to criminal cases in many ways. The Michigan Penal Code applies to juvenile conduct. This means that juvenile crimes are labeled as a felony or misdemeanor which can become part of a permanent record. In addition, a juvenile may be detained or placement may be ordered. However, a juvenile may not be placed in an adult prison institution unless tried as an adult under certain circumstances. Even when tried as an adult, the juvenile is not housed with the adult inmates.

The main focus of this publication will pertain to “juvenile delinquency cases” with emphasis on our firm’s experience in the Juvenile Division of the Macomb County Circuit Court.

Juvenile Delinquency: Crimes by Persons Age 16 or Younger Treated as Juveniles

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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.

The concept of “cooperation” with the police (also called “snitching” or “acting as an informant”) occurs when the police utilize an informant to obtain the 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 may later be required to testify as a witness in subsequent court proceedings unless given protection as a confidential informant (CI).

Every drug crime requires the element of “possession”. In fact, drug crimes rank high on the list of frequently occurring felony cases in Michigan. Drug crimes include: “possession” or “possession with intent to deliver” marijuana, heroin, cocaine, MDMA or analogues.

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Whenever someone is charged with any drug crime, our criminal defense attorneys will question whether the accused legally possessed the alleged drugs.

Michigan Courts Define Possession In Criminal Cases

In Michigan, a person must knowingly and intentionally possess an illegal drug to be charged with possession of a controlled substance under Michigan’s drug possession statute. But what does that mean?

The courts in Michigan consolidate possession into two categories
1. Actual possession: an individual has drugs on their person (pocket or shoe)
2. Constructive possession: individual has the right of control and dominion over the controlled substance

Actual possession is simple. If the drugs are in a person’s pocket, that person possesses the drugs. But what if the drugs are found in a home where multiple people are present? What about in a car with more than one occupant? What if the person was unaware the drugs were in the car? Determining whether or not the individual had a right of control or dominion over the drugs, or over the premises (car, apartment, house) in which the drugs were found, is critical in these situations. However, an individual’s presence in the same house or automobile as the drugs is insufficient to establish possession; a connection between the drugs and the individual must be found as well. When a person is merely present at a place where drugs are found or is an innocent bystander, our firm will argue that there is insufficient evidence to establish the element of possession.

Michigan Courts broadly interpret possession:

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

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

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

As you can see from the cases above, police can use the surrounding circumstances to establish an individual’s possession of a controlled substance:

1. Any past drug-related criminal activity 2. The smell of the drugs, particularly marijuana 3. Whether or not the person was alone 4. Utility bills for the home in which the drugs were found Continue reading ›

abdo law firm.bmpThe Abdo Law Firm, established more than 40 years ago, prides itself on personal service, professionalism, empathy, and most importantly RESULTS. The purpose of this blog is to share some notable success stories that our office has had since Matthew Abdo has joined the Firm. In all of our cases, hundreds a year, we fight to get charges reduced or dismissed and we always push to eliminate or minimize jail time. Though all of our cases are important to us, beneath are some where we feel we achieved exemplary outcomes.

Charge: Home Invasion 3rd Degree / Malicious Destruction of Property Max. Jail: 5 years Court: 41-A District, Shelby

In this instance, Cy was able to negotiate a resolution whereby the original charges were dismissed in lieu of a plea to Entering Without Permission. This is a notable result not only because a 5 year felony was reduced to a misdemeanor and the client did not have to serve any jail time, but because he will eligible to have this off his record after successful completion of probation.

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This is the high season for high school graduation parties, summertime picnics and 4th of July gatherings. Now through Labor Day, teens will freely drink alcoholic beverages at the homes of their friends with adults/parents consenting to the illegal conduct. Otherwise responsible adults with no criminal record will break the law and allow under-age children to consume alcohol at their homes.

Michigan Social Host Liability (Civil Liability) for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

In Michigan, the adults who allow persons under age 21 to consume alcohol face civil liability if the minor’s consumption of alcohol causes injury or death to another. The injured third party or the minor may file a lawsuit and recover under a social host theory! Think again if you believe that your adult friends who let their minor children drink at your home will support you if one their children is injured after consuming alcohol at your residence. The Social Host Liability law is friendly to personal injury lawyers as it imposes almost strict liability upon the adults that provide consent or lack of supervision leading to the consumption of alcohol by an under-aged person who causes the death or injury to another.

Michigan Criminal Offenses for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

Pursuant to MCL 436.1701, a person or retail establishment that sells or furnishes alcohol to a minor faces misdemeanor criminal charges. If the minor’s alcohol consumption causes a person’s death, the person who furnished the alcohol can be charged with a felony. An adult may also be prosecuted under the statute known as Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.

-A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 and imprisonment for not more than 60 days for a first offense, a fine of not more than $2,500.00 and imprisonment for not more than 90 days for a second or subsequent offense, and may be ordered to perform community service. For a second or subsequent offense, the secretary of state shall suspend the operator’s or chauffeur’s license of an individual who is not a retail licensee or retail licensee’s clerk, agent, or employee and who is convicted of violating this subsection.

-A person is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both, if the subsequent consumption of the alcoholic liquor by the minor is a direct and substantial cause of that person’s death or an accidental injury that causes that person’s death.

The police will also charge a minor who is found in possession of alcohol or who has consumed alcohol (except when the minor can prove he has legally consumed alcohol in a place like Canada). This charge is commonly known as MIP which is given coverage on the Abdo Law Firm website.

Our blogs usually include an image at the beginning of the entry. I thought long and hard about an appropriate image for this blog. My ideas included cheerful graduates, backyard celebrations, car crash photos, teen alcohol consumption, images of someone in a wheelchair, a funeral, etc… In the end, I decided to use the cute July 4th plant image. I want this to symbolize all of the other images that I considered and my sincere hope that everyone has a safe graduation and summer season.
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The City of Troy is one of Michigan’s premier cities for commercial office space, hotel space, upscale housing, restaurants and retail establishments. Yet Troy remains one of the safest cities in Michigan according to a 2011 report. The government complex, located off Big Beaver Road and I-75, is where you will find the 52-4 District Court and the Troy Police Department which I can say are proactive when it comes to maintaining this reputation of Troy.

While Troy is considered a safe city as far as violent serious crimes are concerned, Troy gets it share of retail fraud cases which occur at the major retail shopping destinations which include the Oakland Mall and the Somerset Collection. These malls are among the busiest in the State of Michigan and retail fraud is not a crime that will be treated lightly by the Judges at the 52-4 District Court.

Retail fraud is classified by the degree of seriousness and whether the offender has a prior record. Retail fraud in the first degree is a felony which can carry 5 years in prison. Retail fraud in the second or third degree are misdemeanors:

Retail fraud in the second degree is a misdemeanor where the property stolen has a value of $200.00 but less than $1,000.00. It is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

Retail fraud in the third degree is a misdemeanor where the value of property stolen has a value less than $200.00. It is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

The ultimate goal which we seek for our clients is the avoidance of a retail fraud conviction. Such a conviction is a mark of dishonesty on a person’s permanent criminal record. Fortunately, our experience in handling retail fraud cases in Troy has been positive as far as first offenders are concerned. The same is also true in other venues with major retail establishments where we practice including all of the district courts in Macomb County such as Sterling Heights and Clinton Township. In this regard, we attempt to utilize special provisions of law such as HYTA (Youthful Trainee Status for offenders age 17 and under age 21), Delayed Sentence (MCL 771.1) or the First Offender Program to gain a dismissal of the conviction. Absent aggravating circumstances, these provisions are available upon getting concurrence from the prosecuting attorney, probation department and the Judge at the time of sentencing.

I will explain the court process for someone who obtains a first offense misdemeanor retail fraud.

Pretrial Conference: After arraignment, a retail fraud case will be scheduled for a pretrial conference. It is at this stage where a criminal defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecuting attorney for a recommendation that the case be considered for a dismissal pursuant to one of the available provisions as I mentioned in the previous paragraph (HYTA, Delayed Sentence, First Offender Program). A disposition pursuant to this course of action will avoid trial but mean that the person will have to admit to the offense of retail fraud.

Pre-sentence Report
: After the pretrial conference, a person will be required to be interviewed by the probation department. The 52-4 District Court has its own probation department (52-4 District Court Probation Department link) located inside of the court building. Our attorneys like to have our clients well prepared for this interview because the probation department can recommend for, or against, the client getting a deal which can mean a dismissal.

Sentence: At the time of sentence, we will be able to review the report prepared by the probation department. The Judge has the final say as to whether a person will be given the opportunity to have the conviction dismissed. When the Judge grants disposition pursuant to HYTA, MCL 771.1 or the First Offender Program, an offender can expect to be placed on probation for at least one (1) year, along with fines, court costs and other conditions. Other conditions may include a retail fraud class, community service and testing for illegal substances and alcohol.

If the person complies with the conditions ordered by the Court, the conviction will be dismissed at the end of probation. Upon failure to comply, the person will face a probation violation hearing and possible sanctions which include jail and placing the conviction on one’s record!
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cop car.jpgMYTH #1: Underage drivers cannot be charged with a DUI unless they are above the legal limit.

FACT: False! Underage drivers on the road with ANY presence of alcohol may be charged with a drinking and driving crime. This type of charge is known as a zero tolerance. Repercussions can be severe, including;

– 30 day driver’s license suspension,
– $125.00 reinstatement fee,
– 4 points on master driving record,
– Community service,
– Court fines,
Probation,
– And state fees of $500.00 for 2 years.

Repeat offenders typically face stiffer penalties. This includes a longer license suspension, additional fees, and additional points. Further, when underage drivers are above the legal limit they can be charged with an OWI. OWI’s, as we have explained in detail, can be onerous in terms of the subsequent fines, punishment, and probation.

If you find yourself as a minor being charged with a drinking and driving offense seek legal representation. Our office has specialized in drinking and driving crimes for over 40 years. With each of these cases we always seek a sentence that is most favorable for our clients. Our office will always fight to eliminate jail time and advocates terms of probation that will be manageable for our clients. Do not let these cases linger, retain aggressive legal assistance and fight the charges.

MYTH #2: You can only get charged with an MIP for drinking alcohol.

FACT: False! Mere possession alcohol is sufficient to be charged with an MIP. Further, you can be charged with an MIP for transporting alcohol in your car (even if it’s the passenger’s). The meager act of holding a beer without taking a sip is sufficient for someone to be charged with a MIP. Further, we would like to remind you that the following is illegal;

– Allowing an intoxicated person to use your vehicle,
– Purchasing alcohol for anyone under 21,
– Providing a fake identification to anybody under the age of 21,
– Allowing minors to use alcohol in your home,
– And providing alcohol to minors.

Once again, we recommend anyone being charged with an MIP retain the help of an attorney. Especially when it is a first offense, our office usually can procure an arrangement where the charge will come off the client’s record. With these cases we aim to preserve the records of our young clients, keep them out of jail, and minimize any terms of probation.
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pubs_of_EL.jpgWith fall quickly approaching many students are bracing for their return to college. Many college age students from Macomb County attend MSU. The University in recent years has seen an enhanced police presence both on and off campus. The combination of football Saturdays, a sizable off campus student population, and a large density of bars makes for many arrests every weekend in East Lansing. While for some an offense such as an MIP may seem trivial or the “norm”, it is warned that all students and East Lansing residents charged with MIP’s deal with these charges. Though not immediately apparent, a misdemeanor can have far-reaching repercussions. Having an MIP on one’s record can impact on the following;

– Permanent criminal record;
– Eligibility for student loans;
– Eligibility for home loans;
– Eligibility for auto loans;
– Graduate school admissions;
– Employment applications;
– and professional licensing.

Any graduate student or freshly minted professional will be able to tell you the paramount importance of keeping a clean criminal record. Having convictions on one’s record often puts applicants for schools / employment in the terrible position of having to disclose and explain or risk failing to disclose and getting caught. Avoid these problems in the first place and attack an MIP or minor criminal charge head-on. Record preservation is of vital significance for college students, especially when considering a competitive marketplace for jobs and graduate school seats. Too often students summarily plead guilty to misdemeanor offenses under the mistaken assumption that they are akin to a civil infraction or a parking violation. This is not the case, MIP’s are a criminal offense. Thus it is directed that any student being charged with such an offense engage the services of a lawyer.

What then should MSU students and East Lansing residents being charged with a misdemeanor expect during the course of their case? East Lansing cases are disposed of in the 54-B District Court. The Court is located on Linden street (by the 711 and Grove Parking garage) and is presided over by the Honorable Judges Richard D. Ball (Chief Judge) and David L. Jordon. If being arraigned it is very important to plead not guilty. By doing this the case will be set for a pretrial conference where your attorney may be able to negotiate a deferral, more on that below.

With the assistance of counsel, those charged with MIPs can often get the charges off their criminal record pursuant to MCL 436.1703. Sometimes called a deferral, a delayed sentence, or an “under advisement” the result is that the charges will be dismissed upon compliance of the Court’s probationary terms. With the charges dismissed students can say that they have never been convicted of an MIP, as it will not show up on their public record.

Click to see Part 2 of the “Offenses on Campus” Series regarding disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana…
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