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.
This 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.
This does not mean that the Courts in Oakland County are Jail-happy, or lock people up when they don’t deserve it. It does mean, however, that very often, the consequences a person will endure for a Criminal charge such as a DUI, Possession of Marijuana or DWLS case will be noticeably more “intense” than they will in Macomb County. Ditto, by and large, for Wayne County.
There’s really nothing that can be done about where a case is pending. Wherever a crime is allegedly committed dictates where it will be handled. A person was either East of Dequindre, West of Dequindre, or South of Eight Mile Road when they were Arrested.
I’m not a big fan of “comparing notes” with someone else’s case, as I’ll be the first to say that no two Criminal cases are the same, any more than any two cases of Breast Cancer are the same. Still, there is a fairly clear difference in the range of outcomes between Oakland County, and either Macomb or Wayne.
For all of that, I often note that there are some Wayne County Courts, generally in more affluent areas, that are more like their Oakland County neighbors than they are like the other parts of Wayne or Macomb County. In addition to that generalization, it can also be loosely said that the more affluent an area, the less “pedestrian” (meaning, in this case, “understanding”) the local Court. That doesn’t always apply, but it’s more often correct than not.
So the moral of this story: Stay out of trouble in the first place, but if you’re going to get into it, try not to do it in Oakland County.