July 2010 Archives

July 30, 2010

Criminal Cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - How Each County is Different

A number of recent cases that have come my way have had me pointing out what so many people already know, and talk about: Oakland County is generally tougher on Criminal Cases that either Macomb, or Wayne.

In fact, while some who don't know better might joke that one can get away with anything in Detroit, the fact of the matter is that for most real-world Criminal cases, like DUI, Possession of Marijuana, and Suspended License matters, Oakland County is the last of the 3 Counties I'd want to be in if I were facing such a charge.

Tri.gifThis is not to say I think there's anything wrong with any of the Oakland County Courts, it's just to point out that if, for example, a person is facing a DUI, the outcome will be noticeably more lenient in a city like Warren, or Detroit, as opposed to Rochester Hills.

Of those Courts known to be really tough, perhaps none can come close to the reputation, at least, of the 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills and how it typically handles a DUI. In that Court, a 1st Offense DUI can, realistically, result in a Jail Sentence. For anyone facing a 2nd Offense, well, bring a toothbrush.

I get around to all 3 Counties all the time, but the bulk of my practice is, happily, in Macomb County. I like it that way. I haven't had my Office in Mt. Clemens for nearly 20 years just because I like to drive. Having an Office right across the street from the Macomb County Circuit Court allows me to be closest to the Courts I get to the most. I chose the "County Seat" for my Office because I think that, amongst all the Courts in the Tri-County area, those in Macomb strike the best balance between firm and fair.

Of course, this is just my opinion. However, ask anyone who gets a Possession of Marijuana in Oakland County, and winds up on a year and a half to two years' Reporting Probation, with all kinds of testing and classes, how he feels about someone with the same charge in a Macomb County Court who winds up getting a years' Non-Reporting Probation. Chances are, they'll agree with me.

Understand my perspective: I defend Criminal cases. When I feel that people get the best breaks here, and not such good breaks there, I cannot help but start to like the place where the best breaks are had. And when all of my colleagues say the same thing, and feel the same way, then I know there's something to all of this.

Continue reading "Criminal Cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - How Each County is Different" »

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July 26, 2010

Michigan Driver's License Appeals for Non-Residents

A large share of my Practice involves License Restoration Appeals for people who have moved out of Michigan. In previous blog articles, I have mentioned that any Lawyer who practices long enough will begin to see "patterns" in terms of how things work. This is particularly true with my out-of-state License Appeals.

Most often, my Office receives a call from someone who has been searching the internet and comes across my website, or some of my License Restoration articles on this blog, usually after unsuccessfully having tried to win their License Back on their own. I can't tell you how many times per week I hear something to the effect that "I wish I had found you BEFORE I sent in all my paperwork!"

Michigan1.jpgIn fact, chances are, if you're an outside-of-Michigan reader, you may be checking out your options after receiving a Denial.

It may sound smart-alecky, but it is nevertheless true that the best, and easiest Clients are those that have already tried on their own, or have tried with an Attorney who is not a bona-fide License Restoration Practitioner, and lost. They will listen intently, follow directions, and otherwise just do what is necessary to win a License Appeal, no questions asked.

That isn't always the same for those who have not previously tried and lost.

There are some callers who cannot understand why I require a new License Restoration Client to come to Michigan and meet with me in order to begin this process. I have had plenty of offers to pay my whole fee (or any portion I'd name) for just phone time and guidance. I could easily offer that service, whether at a discount, or not. It seems there would be any number of takers, and beyond earning money I otherwise would not make, it would take less time to do it. So why do I turn down those offers and make it seemingly more difficult?

The truth is that I feel that I have the perfect, or as close to a perfect system, as one can develop, to win License Appeals. I also truly and honestly believe that there are no shortcuts to this process, and that winning Restoration of a Driver's License takes a lot of work. For me, that work begins with an initial Client meeting that typically lasts from between 2 1/2 to 3 hours. This meeting takes place PRIOR to the Client going in to have a Substance Abuse Evaluation performed, so that I can make sure the Client is well-prepared for it.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Appeals for Non-Residents" »

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July 23, 2010

The Steps in a Michigan Drunk Driving (DUI) Case - Part 2

In the first part of this article, we examined the steps in a DUI case from Arrest to Pre-Trial. In this installment, we'll pick up at the Trial stage. This assume that any prior Pre-Trials have been unsuccessful in bringing about an agreement to resolve the case.

If there are doubts as to the validity of the Traffic Stop, or the evidence collected, or method of collection, then an Evidentiary Hearing is set where the Defense Lawyer challenges the Stop and the collection of the Evidence, and seeks to have it excluded, or "thrown out." This type of Hearing takes place before any Trial is commenced.

steps2.jpgA Trial is either conducted by Jury, or by a Judge sitting without a Jury. This latter proceeding is called a Bench Trial. Often, when it seems that the case will be resolved, one way or another, without the need for an actual Trial, the matter is scheduled for a Bench Trial so that the Arresting Officer, and any other necessary witnesses will be present along with the Prosecutor and Defense Lawyer.

If a case actually goes to Trial, the result of that Trial is called a Verdict. A Verdict in a DUI can either be Guilty, Guilty of a Lesser Charge, or Not Guilty. If a person goes to Trial and beats the case, then the matter is over, period.

Very few DUI cases actually go to Trial. Instead, and as mentioned above, the vast majority of DUI cases are worked out though the Plea Bargaining Process.

If the person enters a Plea, or is found guilty after a Trial, then 2 more dates are set. The first is for the legally required Alcohol Assessment. The second is for the actual Sentencing date.

By Michigan Law, prior to being Sentenced, a person must undergo a mandatory Alcohol Assessment. This is often called a PSI, which means "Pre-Sentence Investigation." The PSI is conducted by the Court's Probation Department in every Court except the 72nd District Court in Marine City, which farms it out to one of a few local Substance Abuse Counseling Programs. This is by far the most important part of any DUI case, because the end result of this process is a written recommendation to the Judge advising him or her what should be done with and to the person who got the DUI. And in almost every case, that recommendation can be considered a blueprint for what the Judge will do.

Continue reading "The Steps in a Michigan Drunk Driving (DUI) Case - Part 2" »

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July 19, 2010

The Steps in a Michigan Drunk Driving (DUI) Case - Part 1

As a DUI Lawyer who also writes this Blog, I have tried to explain how a DUI case works in detail. I think my Drunk Driving section pretty much examines every aspect of a DUI case under a microscope. One thing I haven't done yet, however, is to really just lay out the steps in a typical DUI case without a lot of in-depth examination.

This article will cover the steps anyone facing a DUI will inevitably go through as the case goes from beginning to end. Because of the amount of material we'll be covering, even this somewhat topical review will require the article to be broken into 2 installments.

Steps1.jpgFirst, lets begin with what precedes a DUI case. Before a DUI "case" can be made, there must be an Arrest for Drunk Driving. And note that an Arrest for a DUI does not actually begin a "case." The "case" part of things only comes about when that Arrest results in a Court-authorized charge for DUI.

So an Arrest is a necessary prerequisite to a DUI case. Following the Arrest is the trip to the Police Station, and the Breathalyzer (or blood) test. Typically, a person is held in custody until their Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) is low enough for them to be legally and safely released. If the Police let an intoxicated person post Bond and go home, they would be liable if the person was injured, or injured someone else because of their intoxication.

In most jurisdictions, a person will be released the next day, after either posting a small, interim Bond out of their own money, or having someone come up to the Police Station and post the Bond for them. While most often in the amount of $100 to $300, sometimes a person can be required to put up as much as $500 before the Police will release them.

In these jurisdictions, the Police let the person post a Bond with an understanding that they'll either be contacted by the Court, or have to contact the Court on their own within a specified number of days.

In a minority of jurisdictions, a person is brought before a Judge or a Magistrate the next day for an Arraignment. Arraignment is the very first step in what can be described as making a case "official." At an Arraignment, the Defendant is told exactly what charge or charges are being brought against them, informed of the maximum legal penalties that can be imposed upon them for each charge, advised of their Constitutional Rights, asked how they plead (to which everyone should respond "Not Guilty"), and then have their Bond amount set. This Arraignment can either be done in person, by bringing the person into an actual Courtroom, or by closed-circuit video, where the Jail has the person sit in a "video room." At the conclusion of the Arraignment, the person will either be given their next Court date, and/or will be told that a Notice of that date will be mailed to them.

Continue reading "The Steps in a Michigan Drunk Driving (DUI) Case - Part 1" »

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July 16, 2010

Michigan DUI - The Least Amount of Consequences Possible in Your Case - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, we had an overview of what it means to get "the least amount of consequences possible" in a DUI case. As we ended that general discussion, I observed that "the least amount of consequences possible" really means "the least amount of consequences possible in your particular case."

In this second part of the article, we'll examine what that specifically means.

Empty Cell.jpgAs an example, earlier today I handled a DUI for a fellow in an Oakland County District Court. This particular Court is FAR AND AWAY the toughest Court on DUI's in the Metro-Detroit area. It's easily twice as tough as the next toughest Court, at least where I go. The outcome of this case will invariably be different than the outcome of an identical case pending on the other side of Dequindre, in a Macomb County District Court. To put it mildly, a person who got "pounded" in a typical Macomb County District Court would still have far less "consequences" than a person who catches as good a break as possible in the Oakland County District Court where today's case was heard.

Oakland County is generally tougher on DUI's than Macomb, and Wayne County (at least those Courts in which I Practice) can be described as somewhere in the middle. Some Wayne County District Courts are as "lenient" in a DUI as many Macomb County Courts, while others are much more like their Oakland County counterparts. Those are essentially geographic factors.

In any Court with more than one Judge, each will have his or her own perspective on these cases. This means that a case assigned to one Judge may turn out differently than if it had been assigned to another Judge in the same Court.

There are other factors which affect a case, as well. In an earlier article, I examined how a person's Breathalyzer results can affect their case. A person caught with a .12 Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) will be treated differently (meaning less harshly, which really means "less consequences") than a person caught with a .21 BAC, all other things being equal.

When someone is Arrested for a DUI and has a child under 16 in the car, they are usually charged with Child Endangerment. this ramps things up. If there was an accident involved, things likewise get ramped up a bit. It's the Lawyer's job to turn those lemons into lemonade, and help everyone cool down about the situation.

Can you see how a person with a really high Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC), who had a 12 year old in the car, was involved in an accident, and got popped in a tough Oakland County community will be looking at a very different picture than a person who got caught, driving alone, with a low BAC, in Macomb County?

Continue reading "Michigan DUI - The Least Amount of Consequences Possible in Your Case - Part 2" »

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July 12, 2010

Michigan DUI - The Least Amount of Consequences Possible in Your Case - Part 1

In my DUI Practice, I speak daily with people who have been Arrested and have to deal with Drunk Driving Charges. In most of the DUI articles on this Blog, I have tried to explain the DUI Process, and many of the things that are involved in such a case.

One phrase that comes up quite often is that the person facing the charges will tell me that they want to resolve the case with "the least amount of negative consequences possible." While I think a closer reading of the many articles on this Blog would clearly show that "damage control" is job number one for any Lawyer, I thought that, in this article, we'll discuss that issue alone, and not as an implied subject in a larger discussion.

Jailguy.jpgFrom my point of view, that's what you hire a Lawyer for in the first place. A Lawyer has a very simple mission in a DUI (or any Criminal Case, for that matter) case: Either get the case thrown out, beat it at Trial, or work it out in the best way possible for the Client. Given that relatively few cases are simply "thrown out" or beaten at Trial, this means that the overwhelming majority of cases will involve some kind of a Plea Bargain, and/or a Sentence Agreement or Recommendation.

Let's be very clear here: Statistically speaking, if you're facing a DUI and you are hoping that some Lawyer can just get the case "thrown out," or that the Police screwed up the Arrest and the Evidence gathering so badly that the case can be easily beaten at trial, you're betting on an extreme long-shot.

In a previous article about How the Rich and Famous Beat DUI Charges, I pointed out that, in fact, they usually don't. The purpose of that article was to demonstrate that even for those with unlimited financial resources to "Lawyer up" and fight every facet of a DUI case, every celebrity that I've heard of who got popped for a DUI wound up cutting a deal. None of them gets the case "thrown out," and none of them winds up being acquitted of the charges after Trial, either. They step up, admit responsibility, and (hopefully) move forward while they put the whole episode behind them.

What does that mean to you, if you're facing a DUI? It means that (again, statistically speaking), absent some bizarre circumstances in your case, you'll be working out a deal to minimize the negative consequences of your case. And that means your Lawyer will be doing damage control.

Continue reading "Michigan DUI - The Least Amount of Consequences Possible in Your Case - Part 1" »

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July 9, 2010

Michigan DUI - How the Rich and Famous Beat the Charges

At the outset, I'll admit that the tone of this article is sarcastic. My DUI Practice involves handling real-life cases for real-life people. From time to time, I hear about someone having spent a royal fortune in an attempt to "beat" a case, only to wind up "discovering" that the case against them was rock-solid. Then they cut a Plea deal, having spent thousands more dollars than they otherwise would or should have if they had been told, up front, what the real chances were that some over-priced Lawyer could just get the whole thing "thrown out." That makes me mad.

I find it frustrating, at times, to accept that people are far more willing to shell out money for what they want to hear, rather than for what they need to, or ought to, hear. In other words, the appeal of having a DUI case dismissed outright is so strong, that any number of people will plunk down a ton of cash just for the chance to buy into that hope.

Liner2.jpgSo that got me wondering about all those Hollywood Celebrities who seem to get popped every week for DUI. Why is it that for every one I hear about getting arrested, I hear about another being placed on Probation for an earlier arrest?

From what I can tell, they certainly have the money to hire some big-time Lawyer who can challenge the evidence every which way under the sun in an effort to get the case dismissed. And if getting the case dismissed costs only what can be called "pocket change" to them, why would they do anything else?

Because, for a very good reason, the majority of DUI cases are resolved by a Plea bargain. Most cases are, unfortunately, "solid," or at least "solid" enough for a Judge not to decide that it should be dismissed and forgotten. For almost every situation where some aspect of the Police process by which evidence is collected and analyzed in a DUI case has been held to be unlawful, or legally unsound, there has been a corrective action on the part of the Police to eliminate that defect or problem. The DUI process is designed to comply with the Law. When some aspect of that process is found to not be in compliance, an adjustment is made.

Why do you think we have Breatlayzer tests in the first place? To provide evidence of a person's Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) at or near the time of their arrest. While there is a certain protocol that must be followed when administering these tests, and while there is a certain "margin of error" inherent in these tests (and every test I've ever heard of, for that matter), those cases which are so profoundly flawed in failing to follow that required protocol, or in which the margin of error, for some reason or another, renders the test results so unreliable, are more the exception rather than the rule. The evidence in every case must be thoroughly examined, but to "sell" someone a bill of goods that pretends that practically any DUI can easily dismissed outright because a particular Lawyer's expertise, or extra effort, is misleading.

Otherwise, every single celebrity popped for a DUI would just "Lawyer up" and get the case dismissed. But that doesn't happen, does it?

Continue reading "Michigan DUI - How the Rich and Famous Beat the Charges" »

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July 5, 2010

Michigan Driver's License Restoration Attorney - 100% Win Rate for 2010 - Update

It's the 4th of July Holiday, so I'm going to cheat a little bit, and instead of writing a new Blog article, I'm going to "update" a previous article from earlier this year. As a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, the percentage of cases won is, for better or worse, a benchmark of your ability. Just like a baseball Pitcher's ERA, or a Bowler's average, those numbers tell a story.

For as long as I can remember, I have maintained a win rate of well over 90%. This year, I decided to try and improve that. And, I have. So far, as of this writing, I HAVE WON EVERY DRIVER'S LICENSE APPEAL I HAVE FILED THIS YEAR! I have filed around 40 cases in 2010, and after the Hearing, have had a favorable decision in each one.

Champ.jpgSo this article is a little bit about bragging. Imagine you had a medical condition, and were looking for a Doctor. Wouldn't the fact that one has been able to cure 100% of their Patients interest you? I know it would interest me.

This success rate is the function of a number of factors. Perhaps the most important amongst them is that I will give a person an HONEST appraisal of their readiness to undertake a License Appeal. I will give them an HONEST evaluation of what it will take to win. And, I will be equally HONEST and tell someone that they're just not ready yet.

So what does this do for me?

To be blunt about it, it costs me money.

Instead of taking every case that comes along and is willing to pay, however, I feel that I have an ethical and moral obligation to NOT accept fees from someone if I don't TRULY BELIEVE, based upon my rather considerable experience, that their case can be made a winner.

For all of that, I often point out, in my various articles about Driver's License Restoration, that the process of Finding the Right Lawyer is about, more than anything else, finding someone who's the right fit for you. A winning success rate is, of course, important, but none of that will mean anything if the Lawyer and the Client don't communicate well.

Thus, when a person undertakes this process, they should read what any particular Lawyer has written on the subject of Driver's License Restoration, and feel both free, and, in fact, encouraged, to call or e-mail that Lawyer with any questions or concerns they have.

Whatever else, my 100% success rate up to this point in 2010 was certainly based, in large part, upon good, honest and open communication with each of my Clients.

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July 2, 2010

Michigan DUI - What Really Happens in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, we examined the range of realistic outcomes in a DUI case, particularly a 1st Offense case. In this second part of the article, we'll focus on how and why those outcomes happen, and what can be done to help insure that the most lenient, as opposed to a more severe outcome, is produced.

By Law, prior to the Judge imposing Sentence on a person with a DUI conviction (meaning they've pled to some alcohol-related charge, or were found guilty of one), the person must undergo a mandatory Alcohol Evaluation. This means they take a written test. This test is scored. The score a person gets determines, in essence, what will happen to them. The higher the score, the worse things are, whereas the lower the score, the less likely the person is to have, or to develop, an alcohol problem.

Judge2.jpgBeyond the test, every Court in the Tri-County area requires that the person also be interviewed by its Probation Department. The whole of this interviewing and testing process is often called a "PSI," or Pre-Sentence Investigation.

The Probation Department then makes a written report to the Judge, to be reviewed for Sentencing, advising what they think, based upon their interview and the person's test score, needs to be or should be done to them. In other words, the Probation Department recommends what the Sentence should be.

As I have noted in numerous places in both my Blog, and on my Website, these "recommendations" are more accurately called "blueprints" for what will happen, because in pretty much every Court, and in every case, what the Judge orders is usually either exactly in line with the recommendation, or darn close to it.

Think of it this way: If the Probation Department said Jane Doe had the potential to develop an alcohol problem, and was currently at the stage where it appeared she is abusing alcohol, and therefore should complete some classes, what do you think the chances are that some Lawyer can come along and convince the Judge that that's baloney, and no classes should be ordered? Do I hear a "zero" anywhere?

Thus, at the point where the Probation Department has made its recommendation, the Lawyer's influence in the way the rest of the case will play out has been reduced to minimal, at best.

So beyond negotiating a Plea Bargain, or getting a Sentence agreement to "no Jail" in a 2nd Offense case, what more can the Lawyer to do? Lots. Let's look at specifics:

Continue reading "Michigan DUI - What Really Happens in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County - Part 2" »

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