St. Clair Shores is a suburban community bordering along Lake St. Clair from 8 Mile Road to 14 Mile Road. The 40th District Court has jurisdiction over legal matters that arise in the City of St. Clair Shores including:
- Criminal misdemeanor offenses (domestic violence, retail fraud, possession marijuana, DWLS)
- Misdemeanor Drunk Driving (OWI, OWI with High BAC .17 or More)
- Traffic offenses
- Felony offenses through preliminary examination (after preliminary examination, felony cases are handled in the Macomb County Circuit Court)
The 40th District Court is located on the corner of 11 Mile Road and Jefferson: 27701 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 48081, Phone: 586-445-5280. Honorable Mark A. Fratarcangeli and Honorable Joseph Craigen Oster presiding.
St. Clair Shores: Nautical Mile, I-94, I-696
St. Clair Shores is best known for its several miles of coastline on Lake St. Clair. The lake is a big draw for recreation and for many that choose to live in St. Clair Shores. The area has a reputation for its charm and being a safe place to live. I can confirm these attributes since St. Clair Shores is my hometown.
Most of the recreational activity in St. Clair Shores arises in a dedicated zone known as the Nautical Mile. The Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores, located on Jefferson from 9 Mile Road to 10 Mile Road, is a Michigan landmark which consists of numerous restaurants, marinas and boat dealers along a one mile stretch of land along the Lake St. Clair shoreline.
The City of St. Clair Shores has its own police department. The interstate expressways in St. Clair Shores, I-94 and I-696, are watched by the Michigan State Police.
Criminal Cases in the 40th 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 40th District Court. The following is list of some of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on the 40th District Court’s docket:
- Domestic Violence
- Retail Fraud (1st, 2nd 3rd degree)
- Drunk Driving (OWI, Super Drunk Driving with .17 or more, OWI 3rd)
- Drug Crimes (mostly possession analogues, marijuana, heroin)
- Assault Crimes (misdemeanors and felony assault)
- Traffic Crimes (DWLS, leaving scene of accident, reckless driving)
- Disorderly Conduct (public intoxication, urinating in public)
- Embezzlement & False Pretenses
- Credit Card Fraud & Uttering and Publishing
The 40th District Court keeps close tabs on the community to insure safe streets and recreational enjoyment. I would say that both judges take a ‘hands on’ approach to their cases. They use alcohol and drug testing extensively to monitor individuals that are on bond or convicted of an alcohol or drug related offense. Jail is a probable option for those that violate probation in the 40th District Court.
Getting out on bond, bond conditions: If you are arrested or arraigned on a criminal matter in the 40th District Court, 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 an arraignment hearing by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. I have found that Judge Oster, Judge Fratarcangeli and the magistrate will listen to an attorney’s remarks regarding bond which can save potentially thousands of dollars that a bondsman would otherwise cost. 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 40th District Courts, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many components. The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:
- Prior criminal history of the accused party.
- Cooperation with the police.
- Whether another party was injured, or property was damaged.
- The ability of the accused party to provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
- Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children).
In our experience, criminal cases can be resolved favorably at the 40th District Court. All these special provisions of law are possible in the 40th District Court which can result in a dismissal of a criminal matter:
- HYTA for youthful offenders (age 17 to 23)
- MCL 333.7411 for first time drug offenders
- MCL 769.a for domestic violence.
- MCL 771.1, Delayed Sentence or Deferral
Drunk Driving Cases in the 40th District Court
For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely in the 40th District Court absent some other aggravating circumstances. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’ in the 40th District. It is both extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. 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. In 2016, there were approximately 100 arrests for operating while intoxicated related offenses in St. Clair Shores and 42 registered a .17 or more.
1st offense drinking and driving: For most first time drinking and drivingoffenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 40thDistrict Court. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:
- Probation for 1 year or less
- Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
- Restricted license for 90 days
- Attend an alcohol or substance abuse program (discretionary)
- Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings (discretionary)
- 4 points on driving record
Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain for a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, not just a Super DUI.
Repeat DUI Offender: A repeat drinking and driving offender may be looking at a longer period of probation, up to 2 years, with the possibility of some jail time. There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in almost every court.
Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison. Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation ONLY if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. Click here for more information on felony procedure.
The 40th District Court Probation Department: 27701 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 48081
The 40th District Court has its own probation department located inside of the courthouse.
It is within the judge’s discretion whether to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a criminal or drunk driving offense. When probation is imposed, the judge may require reporting or non-reporting probation. The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the district courts is 2 years.
Traffic Violations in the 40th District Court: Reduced to Avoid Points and Record of any Conviction!
Like other district courts in Macomb County, I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at the 40th District Court. The presence of I-94 and I-696 contribute to the traffic volume in St. Clair Shores. When resolving a traffic matter in the 40th District Court, we are often able to negotiate a reduction or avoid points. A substantial reduction in a traffic ticket occurs when it is reduced to an offense such as impeding traffic or double parking. A traffic ticket that is reduced to impeding traffic or double parking does not carry any points and will never appear on a person’s driving record! We are also able to get favorable results for individuals charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses such as driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Courts are making it easier than ever to just pay your traffic ticket by visiting the court’s website and conveniently providing an option to pay by credit card. Unfortunately, most individuals that receive a traffic ticket do not hire a lawyer and wind up with a record and points that will have an impact on insurance premiums for several years. The path of least resistance, paying the ticket, can be much costlier in the long run.