Articles Posted in Michigan Traffic Offenses

 

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What you can expect if you are involved in a criminal, drunk driving or traffic matter in the Cities of Warren & Centerline

Our publications explore criminal and drunk driving issues within the realm of our law firm’s expertise. We have the distinction of practicing criminal law longer than most other Macomb County lawyers. This publication is about the 37th District Court where we regularly provide legal services to our clients charged with criminal matters, (misdemeanors and felonies), drug crimes, drunk driving and traffic tickets.

Locations of the 37th District Court 

The 37th District Court has two locations which are located in the cities of Centerline and Warren. The jurisdictional boundaries of these Courts cover 36 square miles (from 8 Mile Road to 14 Mile Road and from Hayes to Dequindre). The Centerline and Warren Police Departments, as well as the Michigan State Police, patrol the streets and major roads within the boundaries of the 37th District Court; including I-696, Dequinder, Ryan, Van Dyke, Schoenherr, Hayes and 8 Mile).  The City of Warren is also home to many industrial centers, the General Motors Tech Center, automobile dealers,  restaurants, bars and retail establishments.

  • Warren Location: 8300 Common Road, Warren, MI 48093, Phone: 586-574-4910
  • Centerline Location: 7070 E. Ten Mile Road, Centerline, MI 48015, Phone: 586-757-8333

The Warren Police Department (WPD) is located directly behind the 37th District Court. The WPD is one of the most active law enforcement agencies in Macomb County with impressive detective bureau, helicopter unit, motorcycle and traffic patrol squad. The detective bureau has a drug enforcement team, as well as other units, which engage in various undercover operations.  The drug enforcement unit keeps close tabs on its 8 Mile Border and regularly arrests individuals that are caught returning to Warren after buying drugs (heroin) in the City of Detroit.  The Michigan State Police also have a presence in Warren as the law enforcement entity responsible for patrolling I-696 expressway.

Dismissals of criminal cases in the 37th District Court!

The 37th District Court has 4 elected judges. Each judge rotates once per month to preside over the Centerline caseload. As experienced criminal defense attorneys in Macomb County, I can say that all of the judges are extremely fair. They are judges that will listen to arguments and fairly dispose of criminal, drunk driving, drug and traffic cases. In my opinion, the 37th District Court is a court with a philosophy of rehabilitation, rather than a direct line to incarceration, and eligible offenders are given a second chance.

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 37th District Court. The following is list of some of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on the 37th District Court dockets in both Centerline and Warren:

Getting out on bond, bond conditions

The 37th District Court is notorious for setting high bonds on individuals charged with a felony.  It is also a court that gets more drug cases than any other district court within Macomb County and the judges do not hesitate to set high bonds for those charged with minor drug crimes!  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at arraignment by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. Most judges will listen to an attorney’s remarks regarding bond which can save potentially thousands of dollars that a bondsman would otherwise cost.  In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions upon a person’s release from jail including the following:

  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • GPS monitoring (sex crimes, violent crimes)
  • A ‘no-contact order‘ (assault, domestic violence, retail fraud)

A motion for a hearing can always be filed to modify bond conditions, remove a no-contact order or eliminate travel restrictions.

Misdemeanor or Felony Classification

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

The outcome of a criminal case in the 37th District Court, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many circumstances.  The most significant factors that can have an impact on a case are:

  • The prior criminal record of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police (no resistance or difficulty at the time of arrest).
  • Whether another party was injured.
  • Whether the accused party can provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children).

In our experience, criminal cases can be resolved favorably at the 37th District Court. Whenever possible, the judges will accept dispositions to allow an offender the opportunity to get a dismissal under these special provisions of law: HYTA for youthful offenders (age 17 to 23), MCL 333.7411 for first time drug offenders and MCL 769.a for domestic violence. The court will also utilize a provision of law known as a deferral or delayed sentence which allows an offender leniency or a dismissal after a period of probation. Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration for plea deals to get a dismissal under certain circumstances.

Drunk Driving Cases in the 37th District Court: 164 DUI cases in 2019

The highways and roads within the jurisdiction of 37th District Court are well traveled. They are used to cross town from the northern suburbs to the City of Detroit and to travel from the east side to the west side. Within its boundaries, there is an abundance of traffic associated with the I-696 expressway, the automotive industry and retail establishments. Heavy traffic volume is the reason that we see so many drunk driving cases within the 37th District Court. In 2019, Warren and Centerline administered a total of 164 breath and blood tests for individuals charged with drunk driving or drugged driving. Over 59 of the test results registered a blood alcohol content of .17 or greater to support a charge of ‘Super DUI‘ or operating with a high BAC (.17 or greater).

Statistically, more than 90% of drunk driving cases do not go to trial and are resolved negotiating and entering into a plea bargain. Plea bargains can mean getting a better deal without spending thousands of dollars on trial. However, there are many aspects of a drunk driving case that must be done according to administrative rules and going to trial is encouraged if the police screwed up and we have a chance of getting a not guilty verdict before a jury.

First Time Drunk Driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 37thDistrict Courts. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

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

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain 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.

Drug Crimes in the City of Warren

There are more drug crimes in the City of Warren that wind up in the 37th District Court than in any other court located in Macomb County. In my opinion, many factors contribute to the high number of drug crimes in the City of Warren including an aggressive police department and surveillance of drug activity coming from Detroit.  In fact, there are more crimes consistently reported in the City of Warren for larceny, retail fraud and assaults than in other Macomb County courts. In 2019, there were a total of 8,801 crimes reported in the City of Warren compared to 4,660 reported in the neighboring City of Sterling Heights. Both cities are approximately 36 square miles each.

More than ever, our clients are benefiting from aggressive legal representation to avoid felony convictions for drug crimes. In addition, the courts are more willing to utilize therapeutic rehabilitative measures, rather than punitive measures, as a means to sentence drug users.

37th District Court Probation Department: 8300 Common Road, Warren, Michigan 48093

The 37th District Court  has its own probation department which is located in the Court building at 8300 Common Road, Warren, Michigan. Both Centerline and Warren use the probation department at this address. It is within the judge’s discretion whether or not to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a crime or drunk driving offense. In many cases that qualify as isolated incidents, we may be able to convince the judge that probation, also known as community supervision, is not necessary. When probation is imposed, the judge may require reporting or non-reporting.  For obvious reasons, no probation or non-reporting is preferable.  The probation department utilizes on-line reporting. When allowed to report on-line, the probationer is not required to personally appear at the probation department to report unless otherwise instructed to do so. The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the 37th District Court is 2 years. However, our experience is that probation is rarely imposed for more than 1 year for most misdemeanor offenses.

Traffic Violations in the 37th District Court: Avoid Points & Record of any Conviction!

The Warren Police, Centerline Police and Michigan State Police all have an active presence monitoring the activity of vehicular traffic with the jurisdiction of the 37th District Court.  I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at the 37th District Court. When resolving a traffic matter in the 37th District Court, we are often able to get a reduction or avoid points. A traffic ticket can be reduced to a Michigan civil infraction known as impeding traffic or double parking which are offenses that will never appear on a person’s driving record and do not carry any points.

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

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MAP OF MACOMB COUNTY DISTRICT COURTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of these special provisions of law are possible in the 38th District Court and the 39th District Court which can result in the ultimate dismissal of a criminal matter:

Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration favorable dispositions in the 38th and 39th District Courts.

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

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

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

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

APPROXIMATE DRINK – WEIGHT INDEX CHART FOR MALES AND FEMALESDUI_Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

Several police agencies have an active presence monitoring the activity of vehicular traffic within the jurisdiction of the 38th and 39th District Courts.  Like other district courts in Macomb County, I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at these Courts. When resolving a traffic matter in the 38th and 39th District Courts, we are often able to negotiate a reduction or avoid points. A substantial reduction in a traffic ticket occurs when it is reduced to an offense such as impeding traffic or double parking. A traffic ticket that is reduced to impeding traffic or double parking does not carry any points and will never appear on a person’s driving record! We are also able to get favorable results for individuals charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses such as driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

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

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According to 2019 Michigan State Police records – 4,933 crimes were reported to the Clinton Township Police. The majority of crimes reported were for larceny, retail fraud (shoplifting), operating while intoxicated (OWI), OWI with a high BAC (.17 or more), domestic violence and assault.

41B District Court Information, Location, Zoom Identification

The 41B District Court is located at 22380 Starks Drive, Clinton Township, Michigan 48038, phone: 586-469-9300.  It has jurisdiction to handle civil, traffic and criminal cases arising in Clinton Township, Harrison Township and Mount Clemens. Clinton Township has its own police department while Harrison Township and Mount Clemens are policed by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department. The Court is served by Judge Sebastian Lucido, Judge Jacob Femminineo and Judge Carrie Lynn Fuca. In 2020, Judge Femminineo replaced long standing Judge Linda Davis. Judge Linda Davis is now active an organization that she spearheaded, Families Against Narcotics (FAN). The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many courts conducting hearings via Zoom which allows participants to appear remotely. The Zoom identification for criminal, drunk driving and traffic matters at the 41B District Court is: 218-957-8812. In our opinion, Zoom hearings are here to stay long after Covid-19 is wiped out.

41B District Court has an expansive jurisdiction that covers Macomb County from Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township to Hayes Road on the Sterling Heights border, and from 14 Mile Road to Hall Road. The area has a diverse mixture of established and newer real estate, shopping centers, Macomb County Community College, county government offices and the Partridge Creek Mall. The Macomb County Sheriff’s Department and the Clinton Township Police are the predominant law enforcement agencies in the area.

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

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

Facing legal trouble? Hire a local Clinton Township lawyer because court personnel cannot give legal advice and the prosecutor does not represent you!

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

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

There’s always a way to resolve a legal predicament. In many cases, there’s a way to get out of the criminal justice system unscathed and without a conviction or by getting a felony dropped down to a petty offense.  An attorney can explain how all of these special provisions of law are utilized in the 41-B District Court which can result in a dismissal of a criminal matter:

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

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

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

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

The profile of many of our clients facing a retail fraud charge is similar. If you are charged with retail fraud, chances are that you have not been in trouble before and had the money to pay for the goods. Our clients with strong ethnic ties worry about losing respect within their ethnic community. Clients that are not US citizens are vulnerable and face deportation.  Getting the best 41B District Court retail fraud lawyer is important if you want to keep your dignity, keep your case private, avoid deportation and get the charge dismissed with NO JAIL.

Domestic Violence

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

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

There is always a consistently high number of OWI/DUI cases in the 41B District Court. From our experience, you are not looking at jail or losing your license if you are charged with a misdemeanor OWI/DUI. In addition, if you are charged with a felony OWI/DUI (OWI Third), there is a good chance it can be reduced to a misdemeanor with the right 41B District Court drunk driving lawyers. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. Non-reporting probation, reporting probation and counseling may also be imposed depending upon the circumstances. Those with a history of alcohol or substance abuse, or that register a high blood alcohol content (BAC), can expect a longer period of counseling. Fortunately, the judges in the 41B District Court have a sentencing philosophy that encourages rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

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

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

The 41B District Court bench all had careers in the private sector running their own law practices. The 41B District Court Judges all know what its like to stand next to a man or woman that is falsely accused of a crime.

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

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

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

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

Probation Modification Hearings: In Michigan, probation can be imposed for up to two (2) years for a misdemeanor offense. While on probation, a person’s right to travel or consume alcoholic beverages can be restricted. Other rights can also be limited or denied while on probation. Probation is an alternative to jail but it also a restraint on personal freedoms and rights. If you are on probation and have been compliant, the 41B District Court Judges may consider modifying or terminating your probation. You will need to talk to an attorney about filing a motion to modify or terminate probation. Probation conditions, such as drug and alcohol testing, can also be scheduled for a modification hearing. In addition, there are many scenarios where we have advocated for ZERO probation, or for an abbreviated period of probation, on behalf of clients that are not likely to re-offend.

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

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

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

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Traffic offenses are classified as non-criminal or criminal. A non-criminal traffic violation is called a “civil infraction”.  In this article, ABDO LAW will explain the differences between various traffic offenses and why you should fight every traffic ticket to avoid points and higher insurance premiums.The Michigan Traffic Offense Code contains a complete list of all Michigan traffic offenses along with penalties, points and license sanctions.

The Difference Between Civil Infractions and Criminal Traffic Violations

Civil Infractions: A civil infraction can result in the following sanctions: points on your driving record with secretary of state and monetary sanction (fine) to the court system. Not all civil infractions result in points or go on your driving record. If you are wondering, there are a few civil infractions which we can get in a plea deal to resolve a traffic ticket and keep a client’s record clean. The following offenses do not appear on your record and do not carry any points: double parking, impeding traffic and sudden acceleration. Yes, the court remains able to assess a fine for these matters. However, insurance rates will not be impacted since these offenses do not show up on your record. That makes it a huge deal to get a traffic offense reduced to a civil infraction which DOES NOT appear on your driving record. Here are a few examples of common civil infractions that can hurt you because they carry points and appear on your driving:

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41-A District Courts: 2 Courts Cover 108 Square Miles of Macomb County

Jurisdiction of the 41-A Districts: Sterling Heights, Shelby Township, Macomb Township, Utica

The 41-A District Court corridor encompasses the cities of Sterling Heights, Utica, Shelby Township and Macomb Township. These areas are in a period of strong economic growth and expansion. In these areas you will find industry, major retail shopping centers, Jimmy John’s Field, 7 Class A high schools, numerous bars and restaurants.  In this area you will also find the M-53 Expressway, Hall Road and other major roads which handle a massive amount of local, commuter and connector traffic. These areas have a reputation for being safe places to live and visit. However, the 41-A District Courts cover a huge area, growing population and a high volume of criminal, drunk driving and traffic matters on their dockets as I will discuss in this publication.

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MACOMB COUNTY DISTRICT COURT MAP

STERLING HEIGHTS DIVISION: 41-A District: 40111 Dodge Park, Sterling Heights, Michigan 48313:  The Sterling Heights Division of the 41-A District Court covers an area of 36 square miles with its borders from 14 Mile Road to Hall Road, and its east to west borders from Hayes to Dequindre Road. According to 2010 census records, the City of Sterling Heights has a population of approximately 130,00. The Sterling Heights court docket is managed by 3 elected judges. The Honorable Michael S. Maceroni, Stephen P. Sierawski and Kimberly A. Wiegand have long held these positions.

SHELBY TOWNSHIP DIVISION: 41-A District Court: 51660 Van Dyke, Shelby Township, Michigan 48316: The Shelby Township Division of the 41-A District Court also covers a 72 square mile area with jurisdiction over criminal, drunk driving and traffic cases that occur within Shelby Township, Macomb Township and the City of Utica.  Shelby Township and Utica have their own police departments. Macomb Township utilizes the Macomb County Sheriff Department to patrol its roads and provide law enforcement services. There is only 1 elected judge appropriated to the Shelby Township Division of the 41-A District which encompasses jurisdiction over a population of approximately 160,000. This is somewhat of an anomaly given the fact that 3 judges are assigned to the Sterling Heights Division which has a significantly lesser population and is half the size geographically. The Honorable Douglas P. Shepherd presides over the Shelby Township Division of the 41-A District Court. A new court building, which is long overdue, has been recently approved for the Shelby Township Division of the 41-A District Court.

Criminal Cases in the 41-A District Courts: Provisions of Law to Get Dismissals Available!

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 41-A District Courts. The following is list of some of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on the 41-A District Courts dockets in both Sterling Heights and Shelby Divisions:

Getting out on bond, bond conditions: If you are arrested or arraigned on a criminal matter in the 41- A District Courts, you will appear either before 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 arraignment by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. Most judges will listen to an attorney’s remarks regarding bond which can save potentially thousands of dollars that a bondsman would otherwise take.  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.

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

The outcome of a criminal case in the 41-A District Courts, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on a case are:

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

In our experience, criminal cases can be resolved favorably at the 41-A District Courts. Whenever possible, the judges in both divisions will accept dispositions to allow an offender the opportunity to get a dismissal under these special provisions of law: HYTA for youthful offenders (age 17 to 23), MCL 333.7411 for first time drug offenders and MCL 769.a for domestic violence. The court will also utilize a provision of law known as a deferral or delayed sentence which allows an offender leniency or a dismissal after a period of probation. Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration for plea deals to get a dismissal under certain circumstances.

Drunk Driving Cases in the 41-A District Courts: 215 DUI cases in 2016

Hall Road (M-59), M-53, Van Dyke, Dequindre, Schoenherr and Hayes are just a few of the major roads that are within the 108 square miles of the 41-A District Court’s territory. Statistics for 2016 reveal a high number of drunk driving arrests in this region with approximately 170 arrests in Shelby Township, 60 arrests in Utica and 193 arrests in Sterling Heights. Over 120 of the test results in Shelby Township and Sterling Heights alone registered a blood alcohol content of .17 or greater to support a charge of ‘Super DUI‘ or ‘OWI with a high BAC’.

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APPROXIMATE BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT (BAC) CHART

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

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

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

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

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

The 41-A District Court Probation Department: 40111 Dodge Park, Sterling Heights, Michigan 48313

The 41-A District Courts share the probation department located at the Sterling Heights Division. I expect the Shelby Township Division to have its own probation department once the new court building is up and running.

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. In many cases that qualify as isolated incidents, we may be able to convince the judge that probation, also known as community supervision, is not necessary. When probation is imposed, the judge may require reporting or non-reporting probation.  The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the district courts is 2 years. However, our experience is that probation is rarely imposed for more than 1 year for most first time offenders.

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

The Sterling Heights Police, Shelby Township Police, Utica Police, Macomb County Sheriff Department and Michigan State Police all have an active presence monitoring the activity of vehicular traffic within the 108 square miles of the 41-A District Courts.  Similar to other districts, I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of cases that are litigated at the 41-A District Court.


HALL-ROAD-MAP

Shelby Township, Utica, Macomb Township and Sterling Heights share roads with the heavy traffic volume in Macomb County

When resolving a traffic matter in the 41-A District Courts, we are often able to negotiate a reduction or avoid points. A substantial reduction in a traffic ticket occurs when it is reduced to an offense such as impeding traffic or double parking. A traffic ticket that is reduced to impeding traffic or double parking does not carry any points and will never appear on a person’s driving record! We are also able to get favorable results for individuals charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses such as driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

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

Link to Sterling Heights Points and Fine Schedule

Link to Shelby Township Points and Fine Schedule

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hot pursuit.jpgIn the second part of our 3 part series on searches, this blog will discuss the rules governing automobile searches. The following needs to be considered when a motorist is pulled over and subsequently searched;

Was the stop a traffic stop or a stop based on suspicion of criminal activity?
Was any search justified?
Was the scope of the search justified?

As alluded to in our prior post, being in an automobile affords individuals much less 4th Amendment protection than being in their home. Police can search a car without a warrant under the ‘automobile exception’. Such searches must be supported by probable cause. According to case law, the general population doesn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy within their automobile because it is operated upon public roadways and is highly regulated by the government. Thus, automobiles upon public roadways are subject to a much lower expectation of privacy than a private home – other drivers, and police officers, can see directly into the majority of traveling cars. It should also be noted warrantless searches may be conducted pursuant to a valid inventory search after the seizure of an automobile.

Police can stop a motorist either for violation of the motor vehicle code or based on the hunch of criminal activity. Where the officer actually observes a traffic violation they are allowed to make a stop. However, it is often a traffic stop that allows the police to make an arrest for a more serious crime. The police can run a background check during a traffic stop, if that check shows outstanding warrants the police may then arrest that individual and search their vehicle. Moreover, the police do not need a warrant in order to run a license check of a vehicle.

Police may expand the scope from a brief detention to issue a traffic ticket where there is a fair probability of contraband/evidence in the vehicle based on the totality of the circumstances. If a law enforcement official see’s, say for example a bloodied weapon, in plain sight during a traffic stop they may immediately seize that weapon. Another scenario, one that regularly plays out in this office, is where an officer smells alcohol or marijuana during a traffic stop. The smell of marijuana justifies a search of the motor vehicle. Similarly the odor of intoxicants allows the police to conduct roadside sobriety tests.

Where there is no traffic violation, law enforcement may make an investigative stop where they believe criminal activity is taking place. Where there is probable cause that a crime is being committed police may stop an automobile without a warrant (for example where a car is described as leaving the scene of a recently committed crime). Probable cause can be premised on as little as an anonymous tip. Depending what the probable cause is for (meaning a stolen vehicle versus a bag of drugs) will dictate the initial scope of the permissible search. Practically speaking, the police will likely find a way to search the entire car through one of the warrant exceptions. Further, probable cause will typically give pretty wide latitude in terms of what portions of the car can be searched absent a warrant. Police can, for example, open a container if they have reason to believe there is evidence of a crime in that container. However, the search needs to be somewhat logical. That’s to say that police likely do not have the authority to search a purse if they stop an automobile under suspicion that it’s harboring illegal immigrants.

Beneath is some case law regarding automobile searches.

– The police may not search an automobile if the stop was solely for the purpose of seeing the motorist’s license.
– The police may search a car incident to a custodial arrest.
– The police may not search a car where a ticket is issued for a traffic offense provided that’s the reason the car was stopped.
– Police may search a car made at the end of a hot pursuit of a crime scene.
– Police may search a car believed to be stolen.
– The police may allow a dog to sniff an automobile during a legitimate traffic stop.
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41B%20District%20Court[1].jpgMost drunk driving (DUI or OWI) cases in Macomb County are resolved without trial. The vast majority of first offense drunk driving (DUI or OWI) cases can be negotiated to the lower offense, such as operating while impaired, unless there are policy reasons which prohibit the prosecuting attorney from plea bargaining.

Our attorneys will be able to review the police reports and discuss various options with our clients such as trial and deviation requests for charge reductions. When a client is charged with a high blood alcohol drunk driving for obtaining a chemical test result of .17% or more (High BAC or Super Drunk), is involved in an accident or has a prior record involving substance abuse, there are legal maneauvers which we will explore to get the case under control.

Court Process and Possible Sentence Conditions for First Offense Drunk Driving (DUI or OWI)

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