June 2010 Archives

June 28, 2010

Michigan DUI - What Really Happens in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County - Part 1

A substantial part of my Practice involves handling DUI cases. In that regard, I have noticed that much of what's said or written about Drunk Driving involves the legal particulars of the Stop, the Arrest, and the Evidence. Beyond that, the next most common topic seems to be staying out of Jail.

I think those two subjects appeal to most people's hopes and fears, more than anything else. What I mean is that suggesting to someone that there is a chance of having the whole case thrown out because of some technicality with the evidence appeals to their hopes. Telling someone they can be kept our of Jail appeals to their fears.

Judge1.jpgThe point of this article is to explain that, at least in the Detroit-area, the vast majority of DUI cases result in neither outcome, and that perhaps a better, more realistic examination would focus on what's likely to happen in most cases. Rather than look at the rather unlikely outcomes that could happen when a person gets an OWI, we'll look at what really happens to the overwhelming majority of those facing such a charge.

Let's sharpen the focus even more: We're are pretty much saying that those who shout "get the case dismissed because of the Traffic Stop...!" and things like "the Breathalyzer machine isn't believable...we can beat this case...!" have an approach that seeks to capitalize on what may or may not exist in a small percentage of cases. Meanwhile, those who shout "I can keep you out of Jail...!" are promising a result that is already the likely outcome of a DUI (at least a 1st Offense, in pretty much every Court in the Detroit-area), even without their help.

What is it that a DUI Lawyer can really do, in most cases, to benefit his or her Client?

The answer, it turns out, is pretty simple: Make things better.

Let's talk about specifics: When a person gets a DUI, all sorts of things go through their mind. Obviously, we've covered 2 of the biggest: "Beating" the case, and staying out of Jail. Beyond that, however, are plenty of other, real life concerns: Will I lose my Driver's License? Will I be sent to Rehab? Will this cost me my job?

It's managing (meaning minimizing) those consequences, except in the unusual case that may be dismissed because of some fatal weakness, that is the honest business of a real-life DUI Lawyer.

Continue reading "Michigan DUI - What Really Happens in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County - Part 1" »

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June 25, 2010

When a Parent Needs a Lawyer for Their Child's Adult Criminal Case in Michigan

As a busy Criminal Attorney, I see all kinds of situations. In a previous article, I observed that many times people begin to see "patterns" in the things they do. One such "pattern" I have seen, but have yet to write about, is when parents have to hire a Lawyer for their child. To be clear, we're not talking Juvenile cases here, we're talking about full-blown adult Court cases.

The kinds of cases that I handle can range from small things like MIP's and Trespassing to more serious Felonies, such as Controlled Substance offenses and Theft crimes. Sometimes, the person charged is as young as 17 years old, and/or still in High School.

AngryParents2.jpgIn terms of "pattern," the Client comes to my office, usually with one or both parents in tow. The parents are NOT happy. Very often the incident involves them finding out all kinds of things about their kid they didn't know, and hoped wasn't the case.

Let's look at an example. A young man came in a while ago with a Ticket for MIP and for Possession of Marijuana. He was at a party at someone's house, the parents were gone, and things got a bit loud. Not surprisingly, the neighbor's called the Police, who showed up, saw teenagers, beer, and a party. The Police arrival ended the party, but only started the trouble.

To fast forward a bit, the kids were given breath tests, and my Client, who blew a .07, was also found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana. He was arrested, and had to call home to be bailed out of Jail. That probably wasn't a pleasant phone call, and I imagine the ride home was not better, at least for him.

Back at home, the parents learned that many of this young man's "nice" friends were also at the party. Not that these kids were doing anything lots of others don't do, but the point was that the parents had to reevaluate what they knew, and what they thought they had known about their son, and his friends.

As it turned out, this young man was a Senior in High School, who has already been accepted to College. He was (and is) a good kid, good student, and all around nice young man. It's just that he got caught partying when he told his parents he would be at a friend's watching movies. Drinking beer and having a bag of weed on him didn't help.

Continue reading "When a Parent Needs a Lawyer for Their Child's Adult Criminal Case in Michigan" »

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June 21, 2010

Getting a DUI in Michigan - It's Going to Cost a Lot!

As a DUI Lawyer, my focus is on extracting my Client from as much trouble as possible. While Legal Fees are an important issue to both me, and my Client, those fees are just one of several costs involved in a Drunk Driving case. In the same way that a physician generally cannot and does not concern themselves with the associated costs involved in properly treating an ailment, (meaning things like bandages, physical therapy, prescriptions, etc.), a Lawyer does not have a specific price figure available to tell someone how much a DUI will ultimately total once all associated fees and costs are calculated.

It can be generally observed that the better the consequences are managed, the less the whole debacle will cost.

Money4.jpgThere are a few things that are pretty much written in stone, however, when it comes to the cost of getting popped for a DUI. Here are 2 that top any list:

1. It's going to cost, and it's going to cost a lot. Even if you have been completely and totally wrongfully arrested for a DUI (which is, in itself, not a very common occurrence), just demonstrating that is going to require a substantial Legal Fee.

2. Unless the case is somehow dismissed, or "knocked out," there will be lots of additional costs and fees for about 2 to 3 years to come. They run into the thousands of dollars.

I was motivated to write this article precisely because, as a Drunk Driving Lawyer, my primary concern is to protect my Client from as many potential consequences of a DUI charge as possible. Some of those consequences are purely financial in nature, but others, like going to Jail or getting stuck in some Rehab, are not. Let's examine some of the money consequences of a DUI charge in the following paragraphs.

First, let's assume we're talking about a case that is not so weak that it will be "thrown out," or dismissed for some unlikely reason. Instead, we'll assume that we're talking about the garden variety, "got-pulled over for weaving at 2 a.m." kind of DUI.

The Arrest itself will cost money. Many cities and townships have "cost recovery statutes" that mandate that a person pay back the municipality for the police time, and supplies involved in their arrest, booking, and jailing. These costs can range from $150 to $350.

Getting out of jail the next day will often cost money. Sometimes, a person is let out after someone comes up and posts a $100 "Interim Bond," while in other cases, the person is held until they can be brought before a Judge or Magistrate and have a formal Bond set. These bonds can range from $100 to $750.

Continue reading "Getting a DUI in Michigan - It's Going to Cost a Lot!" »

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June 18, 2010

Finding the Right Lawyer for a Criminal Case in Macomb, Wayne or Oakland County

As a Criminal Defense Lawyer who limits his Practice to Macomb, Oakland and parts of Wayne County, you might expect that I would just tell someone looking for a local Lawyer to "hire me!" Instead, this article will focus on what I believe to be some of the more important factors to consider when looking to hire a Lawyer, so that a good, solid and friendly relationship can develop.

The process of hiring a Criminal Lawyer really begins only when someone has been arrested and/or charged with a Crime. For the person charged, as well as any close family or friends, it's usually a very stressful time, and hardly the right time to try and practice good consumer skills. Unfortunately, that sense of fear and need for help can also leave people rather vulnerable.

Lawyers2.jpgThere really is no shortcut to shopping around. Check out Lawyer's websites; read their Blogs. See what they have written about the kind of case you have. Make phone calls.

When my family and I moved into our home about 12 years ago, we needed a new Dentist. My wife looked around, and then began calling around. As she called different offices, she was struck by one office in particular. She told me that there was simply no way such a nice receptionist could be working for a Dentist who wasn't equally as nice. And, as it turned out, she was right. I suppose it's a variation of the saying that, by and large, the disposition of a dog is a reflection of the disposition of the family that owns it.

In my office, the person who answers the phone is really the "Director of First Impressions." I really think that's a good place to start. If the person answering the phone seems cold, or more interested in their chewing gum than the reason for your call, things are not likely to improve considerably as your call gets transferred down the line.

Another sure sign that things might be a little too "rinky-dink" is having your call answered by voice mail. Maybe it's just me, but if I call a business of any kind and get the office voice mail, I just hang up and move onto the next.

In terms of Lawyers, several things should be kept in mind, especially when the people looking to hire one are in rather urgent need of help and comfort:

Continue reading "Finding the Right Lawyer for a Criminal Case in Macomb, Wayne or Oakland County" »

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June 14, 2010

Michigan DUI - Field Sobriety Tests in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties

As a DUI Lawyer, almost every case I handle involves the Client having performed some Field Sobriety Tests before being arrested and charged with the Misdemeanor Offense of DUI. Sometimes, the Client will tell me that they did well on them, but the Police Officer just kept giving them more and more to do, until they eventually failed.

Of course, what any DUI Lawyer hopes for is that the Police Car was equipped with a video camera, which was running, while the Client did, in fact successfully perform all the field sobriety tests. To say those cases are in the minority, however, would be a rash understatement.

Field-Sobriety-Test3.jpgIn most cases where I have obtained the video, it either shows the Client clearly impaired by alcohol (even though her or she may not have thought so at the time), or fails to show anything one way or the other, leaving the Police Officer's report of the person's failure of one or more of those tests un-contradicted.

There is a whole science to Field Sobriety Tests. That's far outside the scope of this article, and in fact would require a rather long series of them to even scratch the surface. For our purposes, we're going to talk about the generally well-recognized reality that, at the point a Police Officer asks a Driver to perform Field Sobriety Tests, they have essentially made up their mind that the person is going to be arrested.

In fact, I have never even HEARD of a case where a person was given Field Sobriety Tests and then let go. Now, no one calls me when they HAVEN'T been Arrested for a Drunk Driving, so it's not like I'm in any position to hear both sides. Still, I doubt anyone of us has ever met, or heard of a case where a person was pulled over, given Field Sobriety Tests, and then told to be on their way.

Just as a preliminary matter, in every Police Report I have ever read in a DUI case (and as a matter of course, a DUI Lawyer MUST read the report before even thinking about what to do in any particular case), the Officer has noted that the Driver's eye's appeared "red," or "bloodshot," or "glassy," and that their speech was "slow,' or "slurred," and that they noticed a "strong odor of intoxicants" coming from the driver as he or she spoke.

Continue reading "Michigan DUI - Field Sobriety Tests in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties" »

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June 11, 2010

Michigan Driver's License Restoration - the "Magic" Element of Preparing a Case

In some of my previous articles about Driver's License Restoration, I have gone over as many of the legal elements as possible. In others, I have explained how I prepare and present the facts of anyone's Appeal within the limits and requirements of those legal elements. One thing I have not gone over, however, is what I might call the "magic" element of helping my Client define and relate his or her "story" at the DAAD Hearing.

For all the particular steps in preparing a License Appeal, none of it matters if all of it doesn't sort of come together and present a picture, or a "story," of the person's recovery. And make no mistake about it, the events leading up to a person first making the decision, followed by the commitment, to not drink again, is a "story" in every sense of the word.

Story2.jpgSome people have a good idea of their own" story," while others know it, but need a lot more help in bringing it out. Think of the best date in your life. You know it, you remember it, and when you think about it, you can almost kind of feel it again. That's a story. Now think about telling it out loud. It probably needs some work to be as remotely interesting to anyone else as it is to you.

I think that in order to do that, a detached, 'third person" is needed. I doubt that, despite my own experience, I could do as good job with my own life "story" as I could with someone expert help.

Beyond just getting someone's "story" in shape, that "story" has to fit within the framework of the issues relevant to a DAAD License Appeal. While some aspects of a person's "story" may be interesting, or even moving, if those things don't help prove the necessary elements of a License Appeal, they're only wasting time.

Perhaps the reason I've never taken this subject up is that, for all the articles I can crank out, it is simply impossible to describe this process in any detail. While I don't cook, I do know that those who do, and who do it particularly well, have a sort of "magic" touch. A person like me might follow a recipe to the tee, and the results would be mediocre, at best, but a real cook just "knows" how to combine the ingredients, and will have his or her own special way off adding a little more of this, or a little less of that, or a little something not in the book, to produce something truly special.

Getting a person's "story" ready for a License Appeal is similar. Of course, each person is a different "recipe." From my point of view, helping flesh out their "story" involves listening to their answers to my questions, not just for the specifics of what they have to say, but how they say it, and what other details they either give out or hold back. I suppose, without sounding immodest, that it involves a certain talent, as does cooking. I know I can't boil water, but I have won every License Appeal I've filed so far in 2010 and have a better than 90% success rate overall. That's no accident.

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June 7, 2010

Michigan - Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) - Things Happen in 3's

I handle a lot of Driver's License Matters, from Suspended and Revoked License Cases (DWLS/DWLR) to Full Restorations. I have probably seen most every scenario or circumstance under the sun as it relates to Suspended License Charges. In a recent article about Possession of Marijuana, I noted that, for all the differences amongst cases, and despite the fact that every case is unique, there are certain "patterns" that one begins to see after a while.

This article will focus on a pattern that often comes with a DWLS charge: They often come in groups. The title of this article provides some insight, because it does seem like bad things tend to happen in 3's. It's not uncommon for me to get a call from someone who has recently picked up not 1, but 2 (or even more) DWLS charges in a row. Often, their License was suspended for an unpaid Ticket or Tickets, or because they owe Driver Responsibility Fees to the State. It seems, then, like the first bit of bad luck, usually a Ticket, results in 2 more Driving Offenses, all making a sort of "Trifecta" or "Hat Trick" of misery.

fork2.jpgMore often than not, the person calling me has either 2 upcoming Court dates, or is waiting to be notified about one or the other. Sometimes, however, the person may have failed to take care of one or both matters, and be faced with 2 outstanding Bench Warrants for failure to show up. One way or another, there comes a point when there are 2 (or more) pending Court dates, putting one case in front of the other.

The order of those cases can make a huge difference in how they're worked out. It is generally a good idea to wrap up the case in the more "lenient" Court first. It's harder to get a really good break in your second Court date if you're record has already taken a hit in the first. Whether those Court dates arrive in the better order, or not, is about a 50-50 split.

That does not mean that things are in any way dependent upon the initial order of these Court dates; it means that if they don't get put in the "proper" or better order in the first place, the Defense Lawyer needs to either re-arrange them, or work it out somehow so that the cases are resolved in the best way possible. This, of course, translates to working it out to spare the client any, or as much negative Legal and License impact as possible. Here's what I mean:

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June 4, 2010

Possession of Marijuana in the Detroit Area - The Typical Case

As a Criminal Defense Lawyer, I might otherwise be inclined to note that there really is no "typical case," and that each case is unique. While that's true, there are some things that follow certain patterns, and Possession of Marijuana cases are no different. In this article, we'll talk about one of the more common scenarios leading up to a Possession of Marijuana charge, the Traffic Stop.

In my 20 years of handling Marijuana cases, I have probably seen a "Possession" charge in every imaginable circumstance. For all of that, however the most common situation involves a Traffic Stop.

Weed.jpgWe will not be focusing much on the legality of the Traffic Stop itself; that would involve writing a big, fat, legal textbook rather than a Blog article. For our purposes, understand that as a Defense Lawyer, I always look to see if there are grounds to reasonably, successfully challenge the Traffic Stop. If so, then that's an option. In most cases, however, the reality of the situation is that the Judge isn't going to listen to the Police Officer testify as to his or her reason for pulling you over, and then say something like "that's baloney...this case is DISMISSED!"

The typical call in my Office is from someone who got pulled over for one reason or another, and was found with weed. Most of my Clients have no prior drug record, but a fair share of them do have a prior conviction. In either case, the Client wants, first and foremost, to avoid any Jail time.

This is were I can get a little angry about some of the things I hear. When I hear, for example, from someone who has no prior convictions, and they tell me they're calling around for a Lawyer, and that one or another with whom they've spoken has told them that they'll keep them out of Jail, I get mad. Not because I think there's any chance of them going to Jail, but because I know, right off the bat, that the person is almost certainly NOT going to Jail, and that kind of scare-tactic sales pitch is, well, baloney.

That's about as accurate and honest as a Dentist finding a cavity and telling the Patient "I can fill that, and this way your brain won't swell up and your skull won't explode." It was never going to happen, anyway. Ditto for Jail in a first offense weed case.

In fact, in 20 years and countless weed cases, I honestly cannot ever recall a single Client in a first offense Possession case going to Jail, or even coming close to it, for that matter.

Continue reading "Possession of Marijuana in the Detroit Area - The Typical Case" »

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