old-county-bldg

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.

Continue reading ›

detroit-police
Detroit Experiencing Vast Economic Growth: Destination for 4.3 Million Metro Detroiters, Canadians and Tourists

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

The City of Detroit is amid major economic growth.   Detroit’s growth includes a real estate boom, renovations of historic structures, updated infrastructures and housing developments.  The downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods are experiencing an influx in population which is likely to continue for several years to come.  The City of Detroit is also attracting visitors from the Metro-Detroit suburbs (4.3 million), Canada and other regions to places like the Eastern Market, Greektown, Midtown, Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre, Belle Isle, museums, casinos, festivals, concerts and restaurants.  In addition, all of Detroit’s 4 professional sports teams (Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons) now have stadiums in downtown Detroit.

District-Courts-Macomb-Map

MAP OF MACOMB COUNTY DISTRICT COURTS

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. 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. They cover a combined geographic area of approximately 20 square miles, compared to the 42-1 District in Romeo which encompasses an area of 180 square miles.

District-Courts-Macomb-Map

MACOMB COUNTY DISTRICT COURT MAP 

The 42-1 District Court is located at 14133 33 Mile Road, Romeo Michigan 48065

The 42-1 District Court’s physical jurisdiction covers 180 square miles in northerly Macomb County which includes the City of Romeo, Washington Township, Armada, Richmond, Memphis, Ray Township and Bruce Township. The 42-1 District Court, also called the ‘Romeo Court’ has jurisdiction over more land mass in Macomb County than any other district court. Judge Dennis Leduc is the presiding judge of the 42-1 District Court. The 42-2 District Court, also known as the ‘New Baltimore Court‘, covers the remainder of the 42nd District.

Here are a few things that you should know if you are charged with a DUI, traffic ticket or criminal charge in the Romeo Court:

  • All fines and costs are due on the date of sentence with few exceptions.
  • Alcohol and drug testing is used extensively.
  • All DUI cases are referred for a substance abuse evaluation.
  • Most criminal cases require a probation interview prior to sentencing.
  • Drug crimes and other crimes will be considered for deferrals where dismissals can be earned after a period of probation. This is discussed in more detail below.

There are several police agencies within the 42-1 District Court jurisdiction. The Macomb County Sheriff’s Department has the largest presence in the northerly region of Macomb County. Other law enforcement agencies within this jurisdiction include the Romeo Police, Richmond Police and the Michigan State Police North Post.

The northerly region of Macomb County, is a blend of rural and suburban living. It is also experiencing economic expansion at every level. Expansion is most notable in Washington Township which is on the southerly border of the 42-1 District.  The very essence of expansion equates to an increase in population, retail development and added traffic volume.

Criminal Cases in the 42-1 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 42nd District Courts in Romeo and New Baltimore. The following is list of some of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on the 42-1 District Court docket:

 The 42-1 District is a conservative district.  Judge Leduc runs a tight ship and his Court is run very efficiently.  Judge Leduc likes to see the presence of family members in the courtroom and will ask for their input regarding those that appear before him.

Getting out on bond, bond conditions: If you are arrested or arraigned on a criminal matter in the 42-1 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. 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 42-1 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

We have utilized each of these special provisions of law in the 42-1 District Court which can result in a dismissal of a criminal matter:

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

Drunk Driving Cases in the 42-1 District Court

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving (and drugged while driving) offenders, jail is not likely 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’. 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 42-1 District Court Probation Department: 14133 33 Mile Road, Romeo Michigan 48065

The 42-1 District Court has its own probation department located in 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. 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 42-1 District Court: 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 42-1 District Court.  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 42-1 District Court. When resolving a traffic matter in the 42-1 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. 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.

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

Continue reading ›

stclair-co

St. Clair County borders Macomb, Lapeer and Sanilac Counties and is just a short distance (via the Blue Water Bridge) to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. There are several recreational attractions in this area, major events (Port Huron to Mackinac Race, Port Huron Float Down, Jobbie Nooner) and many that choose to live in St. Clair County because of its charm and proximity to the St. Clair River and Lake Huron. If you are charged with a crime, get in trouble at the border (Blue Water Bridge or ferry crossing) or are caught driving under the influence (DUI, OWI)  in St. Clair County, your case will be heard at 72nd District Court with locations in Port Huron and Marine City.  The 72nd District Court bench are protective of their communities.

Google Maps Link for Directions to 72nd District Courts

The 72nd District Court has 2 locations in St. Clair County with jurisdiction to handle criminal and drunk driving matters which occur in this region.

72nd District Court (Port Huron)
201 McMorran Blvd.
Room 2900
Port Huron MI 48060

72nd District Court (Marine City)
2088 South Parker (M-29)
Marine City, MI 48039

St. Clair County Serviced by State, Local and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies

There are several active law enforcement agencies in St. Clair County (St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, Michigan State Police, Department of Natural Resources, Homeland Security, US Coastguard, US Customs) which have the responsibility of keeping order in an area with an international border with Canada, miles of waterfront property and that hosts recreational activities which often involve boating, crowds and alcohol.

72nd District Courts: Resolution of Criminal & Drunk Driving Cases in Court with Jurisdiction for the Entire County of St. Clair

Dealing with any court proceeding can be an intimidating experience without the guidance of an attorney. By saying the wrong thing without proper representation, you could end up having your case scheduled for jury trial and miss an opportunity to get out of the system.  If you find yourself in this position, getting experienced attorney is crucial to navigate you through the maize of options in the judicial system.

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 72nd  District Courts. The following is list of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on courts’ dockets:

Getting out on bond, bond conditions: If you are arrested or arraigned for a criminal matter in the 72nd District Court, you will appear before either a magistrate or judge.  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for an arraignment hearing to advocate for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions and restrictions which can include: travel restrictions, no-contact order, drug and alcohol testing. A no-contact order is assured in domestic violence, stalking, assault and sex crime cases.

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 not more than 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 St. Clair County Circuit Court in Port Huron for further proceedings. In certain cases, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor and then 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 72nd 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.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children)

All these special provisions of law are possible in the 72nd District Courts which can result in the ultimate dismissal of a criminal matter:

Non-Resident or Canadian: If you reside outside of Michigan, consider getting an attorney that is experienced with the 72nd District Court system and will provide you with efficient representation.

High Number of Drunk Driving Cases in the 72nd District Courts

Based upon 2016 statistics, the St. Clair County Sheriff administered 118 breath tests and 86 blood tests for operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The Port Huron police were in second place with 107 breath tests and 43 blood tests. Blood tests are administered to determine the presence of drugs, as a primary test for alcohol in lieu of a breath test or court ordered when a party refuses to give a breath sample. From a total of 354 tests reported by these police agencies (not including other agencies from Clay, Marysville etc.), 131 tests registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater (OWI) and 108 test results scored a BAC .17 or greater. Operating with a BAC of .17 or higher constitutes a more serious offense commonly referred to as Super Drunk Driving.

DUI_Image

ESTIMATION OF BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT (BAC)

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 72nd 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 (non-reporting is possible)
  • Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
  • Restricted license for 90 days (mandatory by Secretary of State)
  • Possible alcohol or substance abuse program
  • Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings
  • 4 points on driving record (mandatory by Secretary of State)

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 a BAIID 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 possible  jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in the 72nd District Courts

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 when reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are moved up to the St. Clair County Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination.

Felony cases are evaluated on a case by case basis in the early stages to determine whether a legal course of action can improve the prospects negotiating a reduction to a misdemeanor.

Court Personnel are Forbidden to Give Legal Advice: Court employees will not tell you if you are eligible to get a criminal charge or drunk driving reduced to a lower offense.  If you plead guilty without a lawyer, you will not be told that the matter could have been handled with a special provision of law to get it dismissed. The path of least resistance, pleading guilty without a lawyer, can be much costlier in the long run.

Continue reading ›

pee in public.jpeg
In Michigan, the crime of public urination is not included in the Michigan Compiled Laws. However, many towns, villages and cities have ordinances against such behavior and offenders may be arrested for violating the ordinances. For example, Delta Township (west of the City of Lansing) has such an ordinance, which makes urinating in public illegal. The maximum penalty for this misdemeanor is up to 90 days in jail.

Because Michigan doesn’t have a specific crime related to urinating in public, an individual may be charged pursuant to  MCL 750.335a, Michigan’s  Indecent Exposure statute,  or under the Disorderly Conduct statute. This crime has negative connotations which are associated with deviancy or sexual misconduct. A conviction on a person’s record leads to undeserved misunderstandings and possibly labels the person as a weirdo or trouble maker.

Detroit, Royal Oak, St. Clair Shores, Utica: Areas with active night-life get most disorderly conduct cases.

https://www.michigancriminallawyer-blog.com/files/2011/08/Police_chase_ends_in_Troy_0_25990425_ver1.0_640_480.jpg
‘Fleeing & Eluding’ and ‘Resisting or Obstructing’ the police are crimes that are classified as felony offenses in Michigan. These laws are meant to discourage conduct that endangers the public and the police who are engaged in the lawful performance of their duties. Our firm has seen an increase in fleeing and eluding cases, as well as resisting and obstructing cases, in Macomb and Oakland Counties. There are many reasons that are given by clients charged with these offenses. Some of the most prevalent reasons are as follows:

  • The offender is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both, and engages in risky behavior or irrational conduct.
  • The offender suffers from psychological disorders (PTSD, bi-polar disorder, ADHD), needs treatment or had an adverse reaction to medications.

bigstock-Happy-celebrating-winning-succ-45658090.jpg
You may be eligible for restoration of your license if it has been revoked for multiple DUI offenses or for a felony involving the use of motor vehicle!

2017 has been a another year of victories for ABDO LAW clients that have had hearings before the the Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD). This year alone we have won 80 – 90% of our cases (we are still waiting on some results) on behalf of clients whose driver’s license was revoked for multiple DUI cases or for conviction of a felony driving offense (DUI causing injury or death). Losing your license can be a very embarrassing and demoralizing process. You either have to inconvenience others for rides, or risk driving with a suspended or revoked license and getting hit with a DWLS. With a DWLS conviction, you face jail and have to wait at least another year until you can get your license back. Oftentimes, people who have had their license revoked find themselves unable to find work or advance in a career. Other times, it is just a stinging reminder of a person’s past they are working hard to forget. We truly understand and identify with these concerns; we discuss them with our license clients every day. Our Firm specializes in and excels at license cases, it is a special area in our law practice where we can actually make our clients’ lives better. There is nothing more rewarding than to bring the process full circle by helping a client restore their full driving privileges.

We will give you advice to improve your license restoration appeal

IMAGE Criminal_justice_system1
This blog is long overdue. In this blog I will attempt to explain the reasons that make it so difficult to get a domestic violence dropped or dismissed.

The Prosecutor Represents the People of Michigan or Municipality Where the Offense Occurred

First of all, it is important to understand that once a criminal case is pursued, the prosecutor represents the people or public at large for a specific jurisdiction. County Prosecutors have authority to pursue criminal cases on behalf of the “People of Michigan”. City or township prosecutors have authority to prosecute those that are accused of committing ordinance violations within their jurisdiction. Federal criminal cases are prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office. For this reason, the court title of any criminal case is:

IMG-5033-1

 

Part 1: Introduction to felony representation and considerations when hiring a lawyer if you are accused, charged or arrested for a felony (or any other criminal matter).

Part 2: Criminal investigations, plea bargaining and actual case results based upon local practices and our extensive experience handling criminal matters in the Macomb County courts.

Part 3: We explain the terminology and proceedings associated with the criminal process to better inform the public of this process and their rights. Our publications are based upon more than 35 years of experience handling criminal matters in every Metro-Detroit court (Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and St. Clair Counties).

Felony Representation Introduction

Our attorneys have handled OVER 10,000 criminal cases since 1980. Many of those cases qualified as felony offenses. Without a doubt, we know that being accused or charged with a felony can be a life changing event.

The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies

In Michigan, and according to federal law, a felony is considered a crime of high seriousness punishable by imprisonment in excess of one (1) year up to life in prison. If punishable by exactly one year or less, it is classified as a misdemeanor. However, Michigan laws contain certain offenses which are known as “high court misdemeanors” that can carry up to two (2) years imprisonment. While a high court misdemeanor looks better than a felony, it is treated as a felony under federal law and has felony implications under state law.

Clients Charged with Felonies Rarely Fit the Profile of a “Felon” or Criminal

Misunderstandings, false accusations and unintended conduct can lead to serious felony charges. In addition, ignorance of law is not a defense in a criminal prosecution. For example, we have represented clients charged with felonies in all of the following scenarios:

  • Malicious Destruction: Key scratching a car where the victim alleges $1,000.00 or more in damage
  • Felony Drug Possession: Being in possession of drug residue or an innocent passenger in a vehicle where drugs are found.
  • Maintaining a Drug House: When drugs are found in your home or property that you long forgot about or that someone else left behind.
  • Uttering & Publishing: Preparing a check that does not belong to you even though the amount involved is nominal.
  • Receiving Stolen Property: Being an innocent stolen property.
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon: Raising an object during an argument (assault with a deadly weapon)
  • Possession of Child Porn: Accidental or intentional downloading of inappropriate images (child port)
  • CSC 4th Degree: Touching someone who claims it was a sexual contact even though not intended to be (CSC 4th Degree)
  • Drunk Driving Felony: Being charged with Felony DUI because of 2 or more prior offenses that occurred in your lifetime, even 30 years ago
  • Fleeing and Eluding: Failing to stop when signaled by a police officer to do so.
  • Resisting and Obstructing: Resisting a lawful arrest or failing to comply with a demand by a law enforcement officer.
  • Strangulation: Engaging in a struggle with another and doing an act that “impedes normal breathing” can constitute a felony known as “Assault by Strangulation” punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Any felony offense is a serious matter. However, most of our clients finding themselves charged with a felony do not fit the profile of a criminal and have not engaged in extreme or outrageous conduct. In fact, in our publication which covers the topic of Michigan’s most frequently charged felonies, we explain that marginal conduct, such as being in possession of drug residue which not capable of being used or measured, can result in serious felony charges that can lead to a conviction! If you find yourself in this predicament, do not waste time thinking that you can handle it yourself. Saying the wrong thing to a detective may put you in a worse position without you even knowing that you did so. Fortunately, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can manage most of the above mentioned matters where a felony does not go on your record, jail is not imposed and in some cases get the charge dismissed under special provisions of Michigan law (HYTA for youthful offenders age 17-23, MCL 333.7411 for first time possession of drugs, MCL 771.1 delayed sentence). Deals under these provisions can be limited based upon the age of the offender and/or the past criminal history of the offender. However, a past criminal history does not automatically rule out a favorble plea bargain in the criminal justice system. A consultation with an attorney is often necessary to find the right strategy for each person and each unique case.

Getting an Experienced Local Attorney is the Best Fit in Most Criminal Matters: Hiring a Lawyer Does Not Make You Look Guilty!!

Contrary to what the police might suggest to you if you are being accused of a crime; hiring a lawyer does not make you look guilty. Putting the shoe on the other foot, if a cop were facing criminal accusations, you can bet that he or she would “lawyer up” faster than the speed of light. 

An experienced criminal defense lawyer is able to explain the court proceedings and set realistic goals and provide a fairly accurate prediction regarding the outcome of the case. Getting a local attorney within the county where the offense occurred is a good start. Local attorneys with experience that know the courts, the prosecutors and the police are the best fit to give predictions regarding the outcome of a criminal case and answer questions such as:

  • Is jail a possibility?
  • Can a felony record be avoided?
  • Can the felony be reduced to a lower offense or misdemeanor?
  • What terms of probation is the judge likely to impose?
  • Will I have a criminal record?
  • Should I cooperate with the police (aka: snitch, act as an informant)?
  • Do I have to talk to the police if I am contacted by the police?
  • Do I have to take a polygraph (especially when it comes to sex crimes)?
  • How much will an attorney cost?
  • How bad is it for someone with a prior criminal record?
  • What can happen if there is a warrant for my arrest?
  • How much will bond cost?
  • What is involved if the case goes to trial?
  • Can the case be dismissed completely?

Cooperation, Police Interviews: Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have all of the answers to these questions because your best friend is taking a criminal justice class or because you have a friend that is  police officer. Each case and client is unique and the answers to these questions depend upon the individual circumstances involved. For example, we are generally against cooperation (becoming an informant) when a client is not comfortable doing undercover work or can otherwise get a good deal in the court system with an attorney standing up for his rights. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can also make recommendations regarding interviews with the police and polygraph examinations. Interviews with the police are a potential trap when one is not well prepared. In most cases, the police expect the accused party to deny the allegations.  The police will use the interview for other purposes such as: establish relationships, place the accused at the crime scene, establish motives and size up the accused’s credibility.

Some Tips When You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer is not something that anyone wants to do. WE KNOW that choosing a lawyer can be overwhelming and bewildering. Here are a few practical tips that can lead to a prudent decision in hiring a qualified lawyer:

  • Does the lawyer specialize in criminal law? I would say that this is the number 1 criteria in hiring a criminal lawyer. The legal profession has moved away from the days when attorneys held themselves out to the public as “general practitioners”.  An attorney that splits his time handling practice areas outside of criminal law is rarely a good fit. Specialties exist in every area of the law such as estate planning, family law real estate and personal injury. There are hundreds of laws on the books just in the area of drunk driving alone and several thousands more covering other major practice areas.
  • How do you know if the attorney is any good? This is a tough question to answer. I have had to hire lawyers three (3) times for various non-criminal situations. The process of hiring an attorney for me was not easy. So, I realize that the decision to hire one lawyer versus another is not quite that simple.  You may have a good recommendation for a lawyer which eliminates the arduous search process for an attorney. Fortunately, the internet has become a major resource of information, ratings and reviews  about lawyers if you do not have a recommendation.  If the lawyer is well represented on the internet (credible reviews, informative website, ratings by reputable services), or if you have a good impression after speaking to the lawyer or representatives of the law firm on the phone, you next should consider scheduling a first consultation to meet the lawyer face to face. Always ask if there is any fee for the first consultation. Most attorneys, including our firm, offer a free first consultation.
  • Are attorney ratings and reviews accurate? There is no easy answer to this question. Let me start out by saying that there are lousy attorneys that have excellent ratings and reviews and there are excellent attorneys with awful ratings and reviews. There are also attorneys that do not have an internet presence, do not seek reviews and just don’t want them for whatever reasons. Ratings and reviews need to be taken in stride. How do you really know if the reviews are from real clients are just harvested from the family and friends of the attorney? For example, you should be suspicious if an attorney has 100 reviews but is his fairly new to the business or has only been licensed for a short time.  The best thing to do is to read the reviews carefully. How far back do the reviews go? Are they consistent? Are they detailed or do they seem hyped or spurious? In addition to reviews, there are a number of organizations that provide ratings of attorneys. The oldest rating organization and most credible is Martindale Hubbell which has been in existence since 1868. The highest Martindale Hubbell rating is PREEMINENT, followed by DISTINGUISHED and then followed by NOTABLE. Other rating systems are utilized by AVVO and Yelp.
  • What if the attorney has had a grievance? Anyone can file an attorney grievance against an attorney. Criminal lawyers face the most grievances because of the nature of the business and because clients will find faults with the lawyer when the case does not go as planned. The State Bar does not take action for the vast majority of grievances filed.  However, the State Bar can take disciplinary action against an attorney for major violations, such as commission of a crime, or minor violations, such as failing to communicate with a client. An attorney with a history of grievances may not be a good fit. On the other hand, just because the State Bar has taken action against an attorney does not mean that the attorney is ineffective or unqualified. Like reviews and ratings, you will need to decide whether an attorney with a prior grievance should be avoided or considered for representation.
  • Do attorneys really give phone consultations? Yes, some attorneys, not all, will discuss your case on the telephone or provide internet “chat” discussions. Phone consultations can be a good starting place in the search for a lawyer.  However, there are limitations to the amount of time and advice that can be provided on the telephone or in chat discussion scenarios. Our firm offers phone consultations subject to time constraints and other realistic considerations. In our phone consultations, we like to obtain the most pressing information: Brief client history (drugs, marriage, employment, children), Nature of the charges, Court where the case will be heard, Prior lifetime record of the accused party, Name and phone number of the detective, Whether the accused party has posted bond or is in jail.
  • What should I expect at the first consultation?  The first meeting with an attorney is an excellent opportunity to get an initial impression about the attorney, the office and the staff. For complex criminal cases, there are limitations as to the extent of time and advice that can be dispensed at your first meeting. At the very least, your attorney should be able to cover any pressing matters (acting as an informant, making a statement to the police, forfeiture of assets, setting up an arraignment, quoting a fee, visiting the client in jail). Once hired, the attorney will order your police report and dig further into the underlying case which will facilitate preparation of a solid defense.  For routine matters, an attorney is likely able to provide a thorough analysis of the case from beginning to end with coverage of: the expected outcome, whether there will be a criminal record at the conclusion of the case, the likely terms of sentence (jail/probation), the approximate fines and costs and whether there is any chance of getting the matter dismissed, reduced or amended.
  • How much will it cost to hire a lawyer for criminal case? Lawyers have several ways that they charge for their services. We have adopted a fixed flat fee policy to handle just about every type of criminal, drunk driving and traffic case. The fixed flat fee arrangement means that an exact cost is charged for legal services thus eliminating the mystery associated with hourly rates and other vague fee agreements.  Hourly rates on the other hand can be intimidating especially when an attorney cannot give a prediction or estimate as to how much time/hours the entire case will entail. In addition, attorneys that bill on an hourly basis do so for every phone call, text message, email and while they are driving to court and waiting in courtroom for the case to be called. Attorney fees will also depend upon the prior criminal history of the client, the seriousness of the offense, the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly, the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer, the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances and the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services.
  • Who is responsible for out of pocket costs and expenses associated with my case? Sometimes it is necessary to employ outside resources/services to assist in the defense of a criminal case.  The costs or expenses that are paid to outside parties for their services are referred to as out of pocket costs. Out of pocket costs are always the responsibility of the client and all attorneys will seek reimbursement accordingly. The following are examples of out of pocket costs: employing a private investigator to obtain witness statements, forensic analysis of evidence, expert witnesses, private polygraph examination and extensive costs associated with discovery, copies and postage.
  • Should I get a court appointed lawyer? The Right to Counsel in criminal proceedings is guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Should you be charged with a crime and unable to afford an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to provide representation. Some attorneys are willing to accept court appointed cases. You do not get to choose your court appointed attorney. The court will select an attorney from a list or the matter will be referred to Macomb County Judicial Aide for handling.

Continue reading ›