In this 2-part article, we’re going to examine and explain the arraignment in Michigan criminal and DUI cases. In this first part, we’ll look more at the legal purpose of an arraignment. In the second part, we’ll dig a bit deeper into it’s function and process in the Metro-Detroit area. For my team and I, “Metro-Detroit” means the various courts located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and the surrounding counties.That matters because, as we’ll see, the actual process can be quite different from one court to another.

The arraignment in a criminal caseThe arraignment has a long history. It has been around pretty much as long as criminal charges have been made against people in court. Black’s Law Dictionary, the most highly regarding source for legal definitions, concisely describes the arraignment as “the initial step in a criminal prosecution, whereby the defendant is brought before the court to hear the charges and to enter a plea.” While that’s historically true, it also leaves out a LOT of important and practical considerations.

To be sure, the primary purpose of an arraignment is to advise a person of the charge or charges being made against him or her. It also informs the person of the maximum legal penalty that can be imposed for each. However, in many misdemeanor cases, at least in Michigan, the arraignment can be “waived” so that one does not need to show up in court for it. More on that later. I point this out now, however, to make clear that criminal procedure has evolved a lot over the last several centuries.

Driving while license suspended violates the same rule of law as driving while license revoked. That said, there are some significant differences between the 2 charges. In this article, we’re going to look at those differences, as well as what they have in common. This can be a bit confusing, because just about everyone, from the police to defense lawyers, and even Judges, use the term “suspended license” or “DWLS” when the actual charge at issue is driving while license revoked (DWLR). In fact, it is not unheard of for a revoked license charge to be written up as “DWLS.”

DWLS and DWLR charges are part of the same law, but are different.To be clear, there are precisely 4 offenses covered by the actual law linked above. As its title suggests, they include driving while one’s license is suspended, revoked, or has been denied. Note that the very first section makes clear that the law also applies to anyone who has never obtained a license, as well. Accordingly, if a person gets caught driving for any of those 4 stated reasons, it violates the very same provision of law. It doesn’t matter if the specific status of his or her license status is or was misidentified in some way or other.

Thus, if a police officer writes a ticket for “DWLS” to a person whose license is actually revoked (or was denied, or never issued), that’s not a defense to the charge. It doesn’t matter. As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I deal with suspended and revoked license issues from every possible angle. We handle them on both the criminal side and reinstatement side. We represent people in these cases from the first court date all the way through the administrative reinstatement of driving privileges, and every stage in-between.

Usually, the biggest concern for anyone facing a Michigan criminal charge is staying out of jail. My team and I see that in just about every case we handle. It doesn’t matter if a person is facing a charge for assault, disorderly person, DUI, embezzlement, indecent exposure, or anything else. Everyone’s first order of business is to avoid jail, and that’s understandable. However, there is another important and even farther reaching concern, and that’s what does (and doesn’t) wind up on a person’s record.

A criminal case can show up on your record and negatively impact youThe good news is that the fear of going to jail often misplaced. Avoiding it, at least in the kinds of cases our firm handles, is usually not too difficult. In many cases, it’s because my team and I do good work. In other cases, however, it’s because jail simply isn’t on the menu in the first place. What is at issue in every criminal case is the potential damage that can result from a conviction when it goes on a person’s criminal record. We live in the Information Age now, so that can have a profound effect on one’s future.

The upshot, of course, is that it’s critical for us to protect that record. The importance of this can sometimes get lost in all the panic over going to jail. Unless a person has a bad prior record, or has done something truly heinous, keeping him or her out of jail is easier than keeping his or her record clean. If a person is being considered for a job, and some kind of conviction that might make a difference to that employer shows up on a background check, the mere fact that he or she did  or didn’t go to jail isn’t going to matter. Let me explain….

Embezzlement charges are scary. Countless of our clients have related how they felt when first contacted by their former employers or the police about missing money, or inventory. They all describe feeling a “pit” in their stomachs, because they knew what was coming. Our firm handles a LOT of embezzlement cases. We know how they work, and how to best resolve them. In this article, we’ll go over some of the more important points of these cases. First, though, we’ll begin with what to do if anyone, including the police, contacts you, and it’s simple: Shut up.

 <img src="drawing of the word e'embezzlement'.jpg" alt="3 key things about Michigan Embezzlement cases. ">Seriously. No matter what did or did not happen, there is nothing a person can say that’s going to help his or her situation. Unfortunately, people sometimes feel riddled with guilt if they’ve helped themselves to company money, or goods. Then, in a misguided attempt to “set things right,” they make admissions. Even if the evidence in a case is overwhelming, and the facts beyond dispute, just don’t say anything. Even though it’s free, this is priceless legal advice. Moreover, you will never find any competent lawyer who will disagree with it. Ever.

Over the years, my team and I have been called upon by countless people who have been contacted about a potential embezzlement case. We have always advised them to exercise their absolute right to remain silent. As a direct consequence, some of these same people wound up NOT being charged precisely because they DID keep their mouths shut. That’s not to say that such a strategy will work in every case, but even if the evidence is rock-solid, admitting to anything just doesn’t help.

DUI driver’s license penalties are always a concern for anyone facing a 1st offense drunk driving charge. One of the most common questions my team and I get asked is “what’s going to happen to my license?” That dovetails with an equally common statement people make when they say “I need to be able to drive for [work, school, kid’s school, medial appointments, etc.]. No matter what anyone may need, the DUI driver’s license penalties are set in stone. In this article, we’re going to look at what they are, and the ways we can navigate around them.

<img src="driver's license.jpg" alt="DUI driver's license penalties in 1st offense cases. ">Let’s begin with the “set in stone” part of this. Under Michigan law, DUI driver’s license penalties are automatic and certain, upon conviction. “Certain,” in the sense we’re using it here, means 2 things: First, that they are unavoidable, and, second, that they are absolute. We’ll go through the different penalties for the various levels of 1st offense DUI’s later. For now, however, the reader simply needs to understand that these penalties must be imposed by the Michigan Secretary of State, and they cannot be modified in any way.

This is something that can be hard to fully comprehend. Not to make light of it, but I’d be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone was told the penalties can’t be modified, but then asked “is there any way to…?” In that same way, people often inquire about the possibility of modifying the DUI driver’s license penalties by asking “but what about…?” As we examine the various license penalties, the reader must understand that they are what they are. No matter what kind of hardship they may cause someone, the law specifically forbids any modification to them.

As Michigan criminal lawyers, my team and I represent people in a wide range of cases. Even though we don’t handle things like rape or murder charges, our client’s cases are plenty serious to them. Sometimes, we are contacted by a person before he or she is charged with an offense. Often, this happens when the police reach out and want to speak with them. There isn’t a single competent lawyer in the country who would ever say “go ahead” and talk to the police. If there is one universal bit of legal advice that applies to every person with whom the police want to question, it’s this: Shut up.

<img src="police detective.jpg" alt="Don't talk to the police - remain silent. ">It’s been awhile since I’ve addressed this topic. A a number of recent calls to our office have made clear, however, that it’s time to do so again. The right to remain silent and not incriminate one’s self is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The police, for their part, try to work around that and get someone to talk. In large part, those efforts are legal. For as different as one case might be from another, and no matter what the situation, we keep coming back to the same proven advice: Shut up.

As a general rule, it’s never helpful to talk to the police without a lawyer. If there’s an exception, it’s if (and, really, only if) a person can prove he or she was somewhere else at the time of the incident in question. The police are trained how to ask questions. They know the techniques to suck someone in so that, even if they start out unwilling to talk, they eventually wind up providing answers. This isn’t a morally bad thing. Is there anyone who is unhappy that such interrogation tactics wind up catching serial killers and rapists and other really bad people?

If you’re facing DUI charges, you need to fight them. More specifically, you need a lawyer who will fight like a bear for you. The last thing you need is some attorney who will simply roll over. In the sense that we’re using the term, “fighting” means standing up to the prosecutor, and doing what’s best to win. Even in the most basic street brawl, one party has to land a punch that connects. It does no good to simply flail one’s arms around and blindly swing at the air.

Fighting DUI Charges in front of the JudgeProperly fighting DUI charges requires a plan – an intelligent defense strategy. About the worst thing any lawyer can do is try and contest everything, including the arresting officer’s 7th grade report card. Not only doesn’t that work, it pisses off the Judge real fast. It also causes the lawyer to lose all credibility. Unfortunately, there are more than a few such characters out there. Initially, they may sound like they’re strong and determined, but soon enough, that illusion gives way to reality.

Then, it becomes apparent that their only “strategy” is to throw everything against the wall, and see what sticks. And get paid for it. That – right there – is what separates those lawyers with integrity from those without. To be sure, it’s one thing to “take a shot” at something. That’s okay if the cost of losing versus winning has been calculated. Sometimes, the payoff can be huge, and the downside of losing some challenge or other not so bad.

Although there is a lot that goes into a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal, 3 things are really critical. In this article, we’re going to briefly examine each of them, in turn. These 3 things are essential to winning a license restoration appeal case. That said, there are also a few other requirements that need to be met before a case can go forward. While anyone can file a case, unless someone is legally eligible, the whole thing will be rejected. The date of a person’s eligibility is entirely dependent on his or her DUI and driving record.

<img src="Driver's License.jpg" alt="Driver's license issued after driver's license restoration appeal. ">A person must also be sober, and be able to prove it, in order to have any chance of winning. Our firm generally requires someone to have at least 18 months of clean time before we’ll consider filing a case. “Clean time” means complete abstinence from alcohol and all other substances. In essence, a person must show that he or she is alcohol and drug-free, and has both the ability and commitment to never drink or use anything anything again – including recreational marijuana.

A Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal starts with the substance use evaluation (SUE). Actually, in our office, the process begins with us preparing our client to undergo the evaluation. As we do that, we complete a form of our own creation called a “substance use evaluation checklist.” That form, along with other information, is provided to our evaluator to make sure that every relevant detail is properly disclosed and gets listed. This is very important, because an insufficient evaluation is one of the main reasons people wind up getting denied. Let me explain…

There is a significant difference between Michigan DUI lawyers and lawyers who just handles DUI cases. Every once in a while, in certain drunk driving cases, that may not matter too much. However, the difference in experience between a regular lawyer and a Michigan DUI lawyer can often directly impact the outcome of case. That’s when it WILL matter – a lot – especially if it’s your case. What’s more, it’s not like hiring a bona-fide DUI lawyer is going to cost a person any more money, so when facing a drunk driving charge, there really is no good reason to do otherwise.

<img src="drink, handcuffs and keys.jpg" alt="Michigan DUI lawyers. ">The inspiration for this article came about from a recent, real life experience. A family friend had contacted our office about a DUI charge for one of their children. Ultimately, they wound up hiring a very inexpensive lawyer who had handled a divorce for some relative. The fact that he/she offered a super bargain price was just too good for them to pass up. Our firm couldn’t take on the case for anything close what that sole practitioner charged, as we have payroll and other obligations.

Nevertheless, I have continued to provide some help in the background to my friends. In speaking with them, however, it has become clear that this lawyer is very much a general practice solo attorney. In this case, his/her lack of specific DUI experience has already proven troublesome. I must note my need to be cautious here, as I describe things, in order to not reveal any potentially identifying information. Accordingly, I have to be somewhat vague, even about gender.

How much should you pay for a license restoration lawyer? Obviously, it should be no more than you have to, but it should be at least enough to win your case. The problem with this question is that cost is one of the least useful ways to find and hire a lawyer. This is especially true in license appeal cases. Unfortunately, it is also true that one of the most common questions my team and I get asked is, “How much do you charge?”

<img src="lawyer at scales of justice.jpg" alt="How much should you pay for a Michigan driver's license restoration lawyer. ">The most important element of this whole discussion is value. Value means what you get for your money. In a license appeal case, it means winning back the ability to drive again, legally. Let’s be very clear on this point – NOTHING else matters besides winning. There is no value in a free lawyer who loses, any more than there is any value in the most expensive lawyer who doesn’t win, either. In other kinds of cases, a person pays legal fees for the lawyer’s best efforts. The hope is that the attorney’s experience and skill will produce the desired result. That doesn’t apply to license appeal cases.

At least not with our firm. We guarantee to win every first time restoration license appeal and clearance appeal case we take. In all other kinds of cases, it is understood that there can be no guarantees. What this means, then, is that the primary consideration when hiring a lawyer for a license appeal should be a guaranteed win. In that context, the only calculation that really matters is NOT having paid too much to get one’s license back.

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