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September 27, 2014

Weekly Summaries: DUI in Michigan for Non-Residents and no jail in Embezzlement/False Pretenses Cases

1. Michigan DUI for Someone who lives in Another State

This week's first article addressed the situation where a non-Michigan resident is charged with a drunk driving crime here, in Michigan. I handle a lot of these cases, and that almost without exception, I am able to arrange things so that my client will only have to come back to Michigan 1 time to handle the entire case. I called this "one and done." We noted that it is still important to assess the evidence in the case to see if the whole thing can be dismissed, even though that isn't the usual outcome. We next answered "What is going to happen to my driver's license?" I pointed out that no state can take any action against a license issued in another state. Michigan, therefore, cannot do anything to a driver's license issued by a different state. We saw, however, that the state of Michigan will typically restrict a person's ability to drive within its borders for a while. We defined "restricted" to mean that a person can only drive for work, school, medical treatment, something the court requires and AA or other support group meetings. Your home state may take action against your license. All fines and costs will need to be paid on the court date. We concluded by noting that there is virtually ZERO chance of getting any jail, and that if things are handled correctly, the "one and done" means you go home either without any probation conditions whatsoever, or, perhaps, only the requirement that you complete a class in your home state and send proof back to the court. My goal is to work it out so that my client goes home without any kind of obligation to the court, probationary or otherwise. Here are the more important points from the Michigan non-resident DUI article:

  • I can arrange things so that your whole DUI case is handled in 1 day
  • Very often it can be all wrapped up in just 1 morning
  • We need to make sure the case is "solid" before we move ahead and finalize things
  • Whatever happens, the state of Michigan can't do anything to your driver's license as long as it was issued by another state
  • The state of Michigan can temporarily restrict your ability to use that license here, within its borders
  • Your own state may or may not take actions against your license based upon a Michigan DUI conviction
  • You will have to bring enough money to pay all fines and costs on your court date
  • There is virtually ZERO chance of any jail time
  • If things are handled correctly, you can leave for home without any kind of probation or other obligation to the court.
  • I call this "one and done."
Now, on to the embezzlement/false pretenses article...

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September 26, 2014

Embezzlement/False Pretenses Charges in Michigan and Avoiding Jail

As a Michigan criminal defense lawyer, I have developed a fairly robust embezzlement/ larceny by false pretenses practice. I handle embezzlement and false pretenses cases brought in the Metro-Detroit area, meaning anywhere in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne Counties. While I have handled cases of all sizes, many of them have been high dollar cases involving hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I have written a number of articles on this subject that address the mechanics of an embezzlement charge and examine things like the first call from a corporate official and/or a police detective through the interrogation process. There is, of course, a lot to all of that; anyone who even thinks that he or she may face an embezzlement or false pretenses charge would be well advised to read those articles. Perhaps the most significant thing to be learned from them is to keep quiet and not talk. Ironically, however, many people discover what I've written after they've been questioned and have already made self-incriminating statements.

despair 1.2.jpgTo be clear, just remaining silent is no sure-fire way to make a potential embezzlement or false pretenses charge go away. In most cases, the investigation that leads to someone calling the police is usually rather thorough, and it frequently resembles the old notion that if you follow one single thread, you find a whole big mess. The reality is that most embezzlement and/or false pretenses cases aren't based upon false charges, although the amount of money that winds up being claimed by the "victim" is often grossly overstated. The sentiment there is that the aggrieved party (victim) might as well throw in the kitchen sink, because there isn't likely to be a very deep pool of sympathy for the person who gets charged. I understand that side of things, but I also know, from extensive experience, about the other, human side of story from the person accused of the crime. Facing an embezzlement/false pretenses charge can bring a sense of despair.

For all the legal and technical analysis we can undertake regarding an embezzlement or false pretenses charge, the real bottom line is that if you're facing one, you need to save your skin. I can write endlessly about rights and evidence and the burden of proof and hearings and legal arguments, and all of that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day, what matters most is what does, and even more so, what does NOT happen to you. This is particularly true when a person has, in fact, actually taken money or property, and then gets found out. I know that many people in these situations have labored under a desire, if not a belief, that they would find a way to pay the money back, or otherwise make things right.

This is an important, but often overlooked reality, because in the majority of cases I have handled, the person charged feels absolutely horrible. I have seldom dealt with anyone who didn't feel a profound sense or remorse when things get discovered. In fact, one of the more common issues in an embezzlement or false pretenses case is that the person facing the charge or charges can become seriously emotionally overwhelmed. While this does not "fix" the case, or make it go away, an important part of my job is to use that genuine remorse in order to negotiate a better break from the prosecutor, and then later, to convince the Judge to take it easy on my client.

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December 9, 2013

Michigan Embezzlement Lawyer - The Realities of Defending the Case

As a Michigan embezzlement lawyer, I have a somewhat unique criminal practice. Unlike the more "traditional" criminal attorney who handles a wide range of cases, I concentrate in just a few sub-specialties, one of which is embezzlement. I believe that in order to effectively handle an embezzlement case, a lawyer has to understand the client's side of things every bit as much as he or she must know the law. Unless the evidence in a case is so completely lacking that the Judge is about to dismiss it for being so weak, it becomes imperative for me to get the prosecutor and the Judge to see my client's side of things, as well. This is a difficult, but necessary task.

Let's be clear about that; there isn't exactly a large pool of sympathy to tap into for a person charged with this crime. If a lawyer simply accepts that as the whole reality and tries to plow forward anyway, he or she will have little or no chance to make things better for the client. This is a key point for me. While being "tough" and "aggressive" are necessary qualities to being an effective criminal lawyer, they are far from enough, and even farther from being the most important, in the typical embezzlement case. A bouncer at a bar is tough, but you wouldn't place your future in his hands. A used car salesman is normally aggressive, but that same skill makes him little more than annoying.

Real World 1.2.pngBy contrast, intelligence, experience, skill and tact are far more important qualities to successfully resolving something like an embezzlement case than just being "tough" and "aggressive." This is particularly true when a person (or a lawyer) thinks those are the best terms to describe him or herself. Here, you need the finesse of a skilled tactician rather than the bang of a dull hammer.

In that regard, it is usually the first order of business for me, in resolving an embezzlement charge, to blunt, or soften, the intensity of the ire normally felt by the victim that in turn is incorporated in the prosecutor's case. In other words, I have to calm things down a bit. I have to "mediate" things so that my client gets through the case intact. Most of all, I have to keep my client out of jail. When these cases start, the police and prosecutor's side is usually a bit "hot." I need to cool things down before we start off.

To be sure, some embezzlement cases "sound" strong, but lack enough evidence to convict a person. In those cases, fighting, and being "tough" and "aggressive" are important. However, one of the ironies of my practice is that, despite having published a number of articles that clearly advise anyone contacted by a detective (or a company lawyer, or loss prevention officer, or anyone asking questions, for that matter) to simply exercise his or her right to remain silent, many people find me, and those articles, after they've spoken to someone, or even written out a statement. While these admissions are not necessarily carved in stone, the reality is that they often come in circumstances where the other evidence is pretty strong, anyway.

If you're reading this and you've already admitted to something, you can take comfort in the fact that, in all the countless Michigan embezzlement cases I've handled, I've never had one where the only, or even the best evidence was the person's own statement or admission against self-interest. In other words, while it's better to remain silent, I've never seen anyone get convicted ONLY because he or she admitted something. Even so, if you haven't yet been charged, do yourself a favor and don't say anything. Often enough, I'm hired early on and I can be the "heavy" who asserts my client's right to remain silent to the police, or other inquiring party. This is one less uncomfortable thing my client has to deal with.

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August 23, 2013

Michigan Criminal and DUI Charges - will Anyone find out About me Being Arrested?

It costs a lot of money to advertise and a lot of time to become well known as a Michigan criminal lawyer, or a Macomb DUI lawyer, or even a Michigan driver's license restoration attorney. In fact, to become "known" through advertising, in any of these capacities, at least by the general public, would cost a fortune. As a result, when a case comes along and a lawyer is contacted by the media about his or her client, the opportunity for what amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars of "free" publicity presents itself. Without thinking, many lawyers will jump at the chance, often with a vague recollection of the notion that "there's no such thing as bad publicity." This is selfish and shortsighted thinking, at best.

If a lawyer's primary concern is getting his or her name "out there," then this is like winning the lottery. If, however, the lawyer's primary concern is the well being of his or her client (as it darn well should be), then deflecting, rather than basking in the spotlight is very often the better, if not the more expensive choice. The inspiration for this article is the result of a recent case that came into my office. As I discussed the matter with my senior assistant, Ann, we realized that by doing the right thing for the client, I would literally be turning away an incalculable amount of free publicity. Yet it is precisely in my client's best interests for this case to disappear, as much as possible, from the public radar.

Headline News 1.2.jpgImagine that you are arrested for some kind of criminal charge, or even a DUI, and somehow or other, it winds up in the paper, or on TV. It doesn't have to be a feature or huge, front-page story, but for some reason word of your arrest gets out. Immediately, people who know you start talking. Your employer may find out. At that point, what's the best thing that could happen? When you really think about it, the best thing that could happen is for the whole thing to just go away. There is no way to undo the publicity that has already been given to the story, so what you really want is that no one else hears about it, and that everyone who already has just forgets about it.

That won't happen with some self-serving lawyer yapping away about your case. No matter what he or she says, or how much he or she insists that you're innocent, all the attention is just that- attention, and it focuses right on you. If you want a situation to go away, you need to make it go away, and the first way to achieve that is to NOT talk about it. Over the years, I have quietly been involved in many cases that have started out being watched by various media outlets. You wouldn't know about any of them, and that's precisely the point.

Beyond just deflecting attention away from a client, I believe in deflecting it away from the officials involved in it, as well. It is far better to handle a case when neither the prosecutor nor the Judge feel the weight and scrutiny of the public gaze. To be sure, there are some cases that will always hold the public's attention. When a public figure (think Kwame Kilpatrick or O.J. Simpson) is in trouble, the media will follow the case no matter who says what. There are also certain kinds of cases that capture the media's attention just because of the facts. Most often, these are serious cases. A particular murder, kidnapping, or even case of the church secretary embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars will sometimes be "interesting" enough to follow independent of anything any of the parties say about it.

It's sometimes easy to forget that Judges are elected officials. So is the county prosecutor. As much as any politician wants "good" press, he or she certainly wants, more than anything, to avoid any "bad" press. Being seen as soft on crime is not a political asset. Imagine, for a moment, that you're a Judge. When election time rolls around, do you think it could ever hurt you to be known as the Judge who is really tough on drunk drivers? Yet if your opponent were challenging you by claiming that you had been too soft on drunk drivers, you'd be stuck defending yourself. Looking at it from an electability standpoint, being seen as tough on drunk drivers is an asset, while being seen as too soft is a political liability.

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November 5, 2012

How Michigan Embezzlment Charges are Investigated

Embezzlement cases have always been a large part of my Criminal Practice. Having handled countless Embezzlement charges in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, I've grown to like them. I have written a number of Embezzlement articles on this blog, and have given the subject a concise overview on my website. Instead of rehashing the whole process of being contacted by a Police Detective (or Loss Prevention person from a company) and how to assert your right to not incriminate yourself, all the way to how these cases are usually resolved, this article will focus more on why the investigation into an allegation of embezzlement is usually quite different in character from the investigation into any other alleged Criminal Offense.

In the first instance, there is almost never a situation where the Police discover "Embezzlement" without there having first been a report from an outside source. Other kinds of Criminal charges, such as DUI, or Possession of Controlled Substances, or even Indecent Exposure, are discovered, or "happened upon" by the Police as part of their routine patrols. That doesn't happen with Embezzlement.

Inestigate 1.2.jpgMost often, an employer suspects Embezzlement by an employee after the discovery of something "strange." Here is where the scenarios can be all over the map. In some cases, a little "skimming" may have gone unnoticed for years and years. In other cases, a suspected monetary shortfall is questioned, and irregularities turn up. Embezzlement charges can involve things from unauthorized charges on an employee charge card or expense account, to the distribution of funds through bogus checks, sales commissions paid, or merchandise obtained from "fake" sales, as well as just about anything else you can imagine where merchandise, money or "value" has been diverted from the employer.

Whatever else, Embezzlement charges arise because something "irregular" is noticed. I've seen cases where the person in a particular position has been out sick, or transferred to another duty, and the new person covering their old position, in trying to figure out how to do things, has discovered that things don't quite add up. Sometime, a business, while conducting an audit, finds the "blackjack math." However it is found out, someone, somewhere, spots some detail that doesn't seem right, and that becomes the spark that leads to a further inquiry.

Once that further inquiry begins, things usually fall together pretty quickly. Over the years, I've received loads of calls from people rather nervous about being contacted by their boss, or some "superior" from their company. As I explore what's going on, I learn that usually, some financial irregularity has been discovered, and the employer has decided to dig deeper into things. Often, the person at the center of it all is hoping to come up with a sufficient explanation to cause the matter to be dropped, but in real life, that never happens. Once an employer finds that the math doesn't add up, they'll keep looking. After all, it's not as if an employer finds out that its bank balance has been inexplicably credited with extra money from some unknown source. Once any normal person catches a whiff that they're being shorted, they'll follow that scent to wherever it leads.

At the point that an employer suspects someone particular of Embezzlement, things can go in many different directions. In a smaller workplace, there is often an immediate confrontation with the suspected employee. In larger companies, the employee may have no idea he or she is being investigated. Companies large enough to have a Loss Prevention Department may set up surveillance of the person, and let them continue to work, unaware that their actions are being closely watched.

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September 24, 2012

Embezzlement in Michigan - Hire the Right Lawyer

In almost every Michigan Embezzlement case, a Police Detective first contacts the person who is ultimately charged before any charges are ever brought. In my role as a Criminal Defense Lawyer, I am frequently contacted right after someone receives their first call from the Police. Nervous, and wondering what to do (as well as what not to do), they find my website section about Embezzlement or my various articles on the subject. They read a little, then, they call my Office.

If you've been contacted by the Police, then you know that sinking feeling. If you've actually talked with a Detective, you likely hung up the phone scared out of your wits, and knowing you need help. I hate anything that sounds like scare tactics, but it's just a fact that if you are facing a potential Embezzlement charge, you need competent and specialized legal protection. I provide that.

shut up 1.3.pngI really can't remember when or why Embezzlement cases became such a mainstay of my Criminal Practice, but in the last number of years, I've handled countless such cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. It seems that I have a certain aptitude and skill in handling these cases, and those qualities are repeatedly honed by frequent experience handling them. And for all of that, I rather like these cases...

Part of this, I think, has to do with my attitude and disposition toward my Clients. I've seen Embezzlement cases of every kind and stripe, from the simple to the complex. I've handled cases where a "little" bit of money didn't make it into the employer's deposit, until it added up to a substantial amount, to situations where goods or services were sent, or payments were made, to fictional persons or companies. In fact, if you can imagine it, I've probably seen it. Whatever else, a person dealing with an Embezzlement case needs to have a Lawyer who is non-judgmental and works to make things better for them.

In order to make things better, however, I have to assume the role of a diplomat. Many of the cases I handle are pretty clear-cut, and the evidence against my Client is pretty strong. In these cases, I have to be able to work with the Prosecutor and the Detective in charge of the case, and, most importantly, with the Judge, in order to make things materially better for my Client. And make no mistake about it, "better" means no Jail.

In other cases, a vindictive former employer may be driving the charge against a person, or, if there's anything to the charge, at least ratcheting up the amount of money involved. This can be tricky. A person may be on the hook for "X" amount of money. Yet when the former employer, who, in an embezzlement case, is called the "victim," claims losses more than that, the sympathy factor for the Defendant is pretty low, and he or she has a hard time being heard. Nobody is really worried that the "bad guy" (or gal) is being overcharged, legally or financially. Except me; I am.

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July 22, 2011

Facing Embezzlement Charges in Michigan and Dealing With the Emotional Implications

It wasn't that long ago that I wrote a 2-part article about the increasing number of Embezzlement cases that I am handling. As I noted in that article, the increase in my Practice mirrors a larger trend beyond the doors of my Office. I can only surmise that these tough economic times have driven people to engage in behavior that they would not otherwise even consider.

Having dealt with so many of these cases recently, I thought we'd examine them from an emotional, and real-world point of view, rather than just hold Embezzlement charges up for yet another legal analysis.

woman-silhouette1.jpgThe majority of Embezzlement cases I see involve women being charged. That's not to say that men are a distinct minority, but in almost every other kind of charge, the ratio of men charged, as opposed to women, is pretty high. Men commit more crimes than women. Embezzlement cases flip that on its head.

The amount of money taken (or lost, as in the case of those who take or otherwise handle property), by the time the case is brought, is usually quite high. I haven't seen more than one Embezzlement case involving less than $20,000 in a long time, and many involve amounts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the smaller case I just mentioned, a male Client had pilfered a few pairs of jeans and some tools from his employer, a large retail company. He didn't realize that he had been observed on camera. His case was worked out so that he avoided getting a Criminal Record.

Most of these cases begin with a call from a Police Detective, or and investigating Police Officer. This is usually when I get called. Often, the person is somewhat conflicted about just getting this off their chest and hoping that it can somehow go away. They need direction, even if they already know any Lawyer worth a nickel is going to tell them not to say anything.

At this point, the Police almost always already have the information they need to bring the charge, anyway. The "charging" document is called a "Warrant." If they didn't have enough information to get a Warrant, then it would, of course, make little sense to go in and give them the missing piece or pieces needed to bring a case. This is why I always advise anyone to contact a Lawyer BEFORE they go to the Police Station, or make any kind of statement.

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February 4, 2011

Facing an Embezzlement Charge in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County - Part 2

In part 1 of the article, we began our examination of Embezzlement cases. We looked at a few typical scenarios that usually precede, if not announce the coming of an Embezzlement charge, and some of the emotional and psychological elements that are typically present.

In this 2nd part, we'll pick up by reviewing some of the more, practical, real-life legal considerations and steps one can expect as an Embezzlement case proceeds through the Court system.

Money Hiding2.jpgMost Embezzlement cases are Felonies. If they weren't already scared enough, when the person hears about the potential to go to Prison for a certain number of years, they freak out. For whatever reason, the vast majority of Embezzlement cases I see involve amounts of money well over $10,000, and many involve amounts involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When they think about someone who steals a wallet stuffed with hundreds of dollars being thrown in Jail, a person facing an Embezzlement charge, where the amounts involved are umpteen times higher, rather naturally wonders they're prison-bound.

Then I'm hired, and the first thing I tell the Client is that there won't be any Prison. Most of the time, these cases can be worked out with no Jail. This, I explain, is what you're paying for.

As with all Felonies, Embezzlement cases follow a certain protocol. There is an Arraignment, a Preliminary Examination, a Circuit Court Arraignment and First Conference, followed by a Pre-Trial conference. Sometimes, multiple Pre-Trial conferences are held.

Eventually, unless there is some way to beat the case, a Plea-bargain is produced. This will have several benefits to the Client beyond just sounding good. A reduced charge can change the Sentencing outcome, and can be largely responsible for avoiding any kind of Jail. Beyond that, it does, to some extent, soften the impact to the person's Criminal Record.

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January 31, 2011

Facing an Embezzlement Charge in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County - Part 1

Recently, in my Criminal Practice, I have noticed a fairly significant increase in the number of Embezzlement cases for which I am hired. Most often, when I Represent someone facing an Embezzlement charge, I come to find that they are deeply remorseful for what's happened, but often felt like they fell into some kind of trap. This article will examine the "what's what" of an Embezzlement charge.

Most of these cases begin with a phone call. Usually, a person will be contacted either by a Police Detective, or a Loss Prevention Officer from the Company involved. When Loss Prevention calls, they usually schedule an appointment for the person (most often an employee) to come in and talk. When a Police Detective calls, he or she will typically ask the person to come in a give "their side" of the story. Sometimes, however, they will be a bit more forceful, and indicate that if the person does not come in, they will get a Warrant.

Interview2.jpgOften, but not always, I'll be contacted by someone before they call the Police Detective back. They're afraid, they have a good idea why they're being called, and the thought of going into an interview room in the Police Station doesn't sound too inviting. Yet, they wonder, is there a way that I might still be able to avoid a charge? What if I just keep quiet, and don't say anything? Maybe they need me to admit to something to build their case.

While I understand that, at least in theory, there is probably an exception out there, in my 20+ years of Practicing Law, I have never known a Detective to call someone when they didn't already have enough information to get a Warrant (remember, a Warrant is based upon "probable cause") charging the subject with the crime. The reason they call is to simply "wrap up" the loose ends of the case, which essentially means get a confession. The kind of Warrant we're talking about here is an Arrest Warrant, meaning that the Police are directed to apprehend a person and bring them to Court to face the charge or charges.

When I'm contacted by someone wanting to know what to do next, I will usually call the Detective myself. My job, of course, is to protect the Client. Still, in the 20+ years I've been doing this, I've never spoken with a Detective who didn't have enough information to get a Warrant. Thus, I inform them that my Client won't be coming in to say anything about the case, but I'm also very diplomatic in telling them that, once they get the Warrant, I'll present the Client for processing. This means being booked and printed, as well as being Arraigned by a Judge or Magistrate. The whole goal of this is to make sure the Client will be Arraigned and released upon either a Personal (meaning they need no money) Bond, or get one that they can post right away. This is most often done through my dealings with the Detective, and the establishing of a good relationship with him or her.

In other words, all that unpleasant and scary stuff is pre-arranged, and the person doesn't have to worry about being stuck in Jail and making friends with their new cellmate.

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March 29, 2010

Embezzlement Crimes in Michigan - Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County Cases

Most often, it goes like this: My office receives a call from someone who has been contacted by the Police (usually, a Detective) who wants to talk to them about an embezzlement case. In almost all of the cases, the person used to work for the person or company that went to the Police. The person calling my office is scared, and doesn't want to say anything that will make matters worse. It is not uncommon for the caller to have been told by the Police that if they do not give "their side" of the story, the Police will get a Warrant.

The caller wants to come in and is willing to pay whatever the cost in order to get some sound Legal advice.

man3.jpgAnd then I surprise them by telling them that the best advice is so simple, it would be a crime in itself to charge them for it: Just shut up.

In another article on this Blog, I explained what to do (and, more importantly, what NOT to do) when a Police Detective calls. As explained in detail there, in almost every case I've ever seen, by the time the Police call, they already have enough evidence to go ahead and get a Warrant charging the person with a crime. In that sense, the Police are being completely (and maybe too) honest. Think about the message the Police either leave or pass on: If you don't call, we'll get a Warrant. In order to do that, they need to establish "Probable Cause" to the Judge, and they're already indicating that they have it.

Therefore, about the only thing a person can say that would help out is something to the effect of "that wasn't me - I was living in Arizona during that whole time period, never was here in Michigan, and I can prove it." Anything other than that is just another nail in their coffin.

My advice in those cases is always to be polite and cooperative - return the call, and tell the Police you'll come in to be processed (meaning "booked" and "Arraigned"), but don't want to say anything or answer any questions. I tell the caller they can tell the Police they are "exercising their 5th amendment right against self-incrimination on the advice of Counsel." You've at least seen that one on TV, or in the movies, right?

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