Articles Posted in Embezzlement

In part 1 of this article about the arraignment, we identified 5 important functions. First, we saw that the arraignment is the first step in a criminal case. Second, the person is formally notified of the charges or charges against him or her, and the maximum legal penalty that can be imposed for each. Third, he or she will enter a plea (it should always be “not guilty”). Fourth, bond (bail), and bond conditions are set. Fifth, some courts allow the arraignment to be waived in certain misdemeanor cases, but that cannot happen in a felony case.

The arraignment before a JudgeHere, in part 2, we’ll dig a little deeper into the practical side of this. As just noted, the arraignment can be “waived” in some misdemeanor cases. This means a person won’t have to go to court for it. Waiving the arraignment requires that the lawyer file certain papers. As we also noted, the arraignment cannot be waived in felony cases. This also applies to any misdemeanor charge for which the court chooses to require attendance. A district court can simply elect to forbid the waiver of the arraignment in any or all misdemeanor cases, as it sees fit.

One of the scariest parts about having to show up for an arraignment occurs when the person is advised of the maximum possible penalty that can be imposed for his or her charge(s). Imagine, for example, that a person is caught with a small amount cocaine for personal use. He or she is brought to court and advised that the maximum penalty that can imposed for possession is up to 4 years in the state prison. That will cause many to have a “sinking feeling” in the pit of their stomachs.

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.

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.

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?

In the previous article, I explained that right now, during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Michigan Secretary of State is conducting all driver’s license restoration hearings remotely. In this article, I want to examine the impact that going remote has had on the way Michigan criminal and DUI charges are being handled, both in the courts, and in our office. As of this writing (October 2020), we’re 7 months into the pandemic, and the legal world is adapting to handling cases in new ways.

Lady5Having had to do that by sheer necessity, there are likely to be some permanent changes (at least in our practice) to the way criminal and DUI cases are handled in the future, many of which are favorable. Right now, in the Metro-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding counties), “going to court” in many jurisdictions means connecting to a legal proceeding virtually. So far, we haven’t had a single complaint from any client who had to appear on a video conference with the court instead of actually having to have physically show up in it.

I don’t expect there to be any complaints, either. It’s basic human nature to prefer to do things the easier way, especially when the outcome is at least as good as it would be otherwise. There’s an old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and even though the idea of holding meetings virtually is not any kind of new invention, society’s attitude about them, and expectations for them, have certainly evolved in the past several months.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at the 3 questions anyone should consider as he or she looks for a lawyer for a Michigan criminal, DUI or driver’s license restoration case. After we went over a few preliminary considerations like not getting the “hard sell” from some lawyer’s office, we began examining the first of 3 sub-questions from the larger inquiry, “why should I hire you?” and saw why it’s important to find a lawyer whose practice concentrates in the same field as a person’s case.

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Having covered those things, in the previous installment, we can turn to the second sub-question anyone looking for a lawyer should have about an attorney or law firm: How available do you make USEFULL information relevant to my kind of case, and specific concerns?

I’ve already mentioned this blog as a resource, and while I am proud of it (and think it’s the best out there by far!), there is lots of other information out there, as well. Find it, and see what other lawyers have written and then put up about your kind of case. Reading articles is about the easiest and most anonymous way to at least get some preliminary information about a situation, but a person must also make sure that the information provided is both accurate and reliable.

Anyone looking to hire a lawyer for a criminal or DUI case, a driver’s license restoration appeal (or really for any kind of case) should always consider the question, “why should I hire you?” Even if a person doesn’t directly ask that of some lawyer or law firm, he or she should have clear and direct answers to it. In this article, I want to go over the 3 most important questions a person should keep in mind as he or she considers which lawyer to hire.

3ThingsThe simple truth is that nobody needs a criminal or DUI lawyer because things are going particularly well. In addition, it can be a bit intimidating to call a lawyer. Personally, I HATE having to call people who are in any “hard sell” profession, like insurance or real-estate agents, or anyone who offers “free information” or a “no obligation” consultation that I know will result in a sales pitch. I fear that once any of these “sharks” get my phone number, they’ll hound me forever. Unfortunately some lawyers can be like that, too.

This reticence to call an attorney is likely the same for people who are looking to win back their driver’s license, as well. The whole idea of calling a law office can be stressful, not only because of the dreaded potential “hard sell,” waiting on the other end of the line, but also because the caller has no idea how nice (or not) the person answering the phone might be. This is why looking around online is so great; you have a chance to get some information without being hounded, intimidated, or pressured.

I have been writing about the ongoing changes in how criminal and DUI cases are being handled, both by the courts and our office, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Things have, quite literally, been evolving on a daily bases. Even though procedures are still in flux, people are definitely getting more comfortable with the use of video in legal matters, both in the office and the courtroom.

companies-working-remotely-background-scaled-1-300x246Although there are trade-offs, the convenience factor of using video really can’t be overstated. This ability for a person to “be” in any court from the comfort of one’s own home seems like a great thing, but there is one huge concern I have about it that is the basis for this article: I have always been a strong advocate for hiring a “local” lawyer for a criminal or DUI charge. Here, in the Metro-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding Counties, “local” essentially means the “Greater-Detroit area.”

Up until recently, travel time was the main impediment to a lawyer taking cases all over the place. This is undoubtedly why lawyers pick a spot to open an office, and expect their practice to grow in that general geographic area. A Grand Rapids lawyer will usually stay within his or her general area, as will lawyers from Traverse City, Lansing, and Metro-Detroit. Our firm generally does not go to courts on the west side of the state, or up north. On the flip side, we don’t run into lawyers from Grand Rapids or up north in the courts around here, either.

The most important concern of anyone facing a Michigan criminal or DUI charge is “what’s going to happen to me?” Whatever that is, it happens at sentencing. At sentencing, the Judge decides what to do to a person who has been convicted of or pled guilty to a misdemeanor or felony offense. In a very real way, it’s the day of reckoning, or the day a person will “face the music,” so to speak. For many, the biggest part of this is finding out if they’re going to jail or not. As we’ll see, however, that concern is rather misplaced.

slide-10-300x247The sentencing is a legal proceeding. It’s when a person’s sentence gets imposed. The “sentence” is a court order specifying the things a person must do, can do, and is forbidden from doing. For example, a person sentenced for a 1st offense DUI may be put on probation, required to complete some classes, be allowed to leave the state only for work purposes and/or a scheduled vacation, but also be forbidden from consuming alcohol during probation, and required to test to ensure compliance.

It’s very important to understand that a sentencing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The lawyer for the person being sentenced can (and should) play a huge role in how things turn out; we’ll look at that later. For now, what matters is that the sentencing is where the Judge orders what will happen to a person. Circling back to our DUI example, I often point out that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to the person facing the charge

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