On Tuesday, July 15, three Grosse Pointe Woods teens were charged by prosecutor Kym Worthy with malicious destruction of a building causing between $1,000 and $20,000 in damage, according to a news article at Mlive.com. The offense is a felony that could leave the three girls, described as “fancy young ladies” in an email to employees by Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert, facing up to five years in prison. self-portrait-744629-m

The three girls suspected of spray painting buildings in Detroit include Mary Elizabeth Harder, 17, Mackenzie Lynn Snitgen, 17, and Esabella Mary Meteer, 18. The teens allegedly spray painted buildings late in the evening hours on June 22. Dan Gilbert offered a reward to tipsters who could provide more information on the girls, offering to pay for a paint job for the home or apartment of anyone who provided tips about the teen girls, who were captured on his extensive surveillance system. Gilbert sent the images of the girls to his staff, asking employees to share the pictures on social media networks.

Authorities say that the crude graffiti spray painted on buildings in the 1100 block of Griswold and the 40 block of Michigan include the statements “Welcome to Detroit” and another that includes vulgar language.

The teenage girls were arraigned on the charges on Tuesday; each was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. No information was released regarding the next court date.

Malicious destruction of a building or other property is a very serious matter. Individuals who are found guilty not only face prison time, but substantial fines and even restitution in some cases where the victim’s property is damaged or destroyed. In this case, the teen girls were charged with malicious destruction of a building causing between $1,000 and $20,000 in damage. This means that in addition to prison time, each could face a fine of up to $10,000, three times the value of the destruction, whichever is greater, or both.

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As seasoned Michigan driver’s license reinstatement attorneys, we realize that most people associate a suspended driver’s license with driving while under the influence of alcohol or having received too many traffic tickets. The fact is, a conviction for a drug offense can result in suspension of your license as well. krankenhaus-1303353-m

Driving under the influence or DUI is a charge that applies not only to individuals who are found to have an illegal amount (greater than 0.08%) of alcohol or intoxicating liquor in their systems, but those who have other potentially intoxicating substances in their systems as well. This may include narcotic or illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other illicit substances as well as prescription medications such as oxycodone, Vicodin, or even Xanax or other benzodiazepines. Should it be determined that your ability to operate a vehicle safely was affected by drugs in your system, you may be charged with DUI – and have your driver’s license suspended.

Driver’s license suspension applies not only to operating a vehicle with drugs in your system, it also applies in cases where an individual is convicted of possessing, manufacturing, or distributing drugs. In this situation, you do not have to be driving at all to have your license suspended. The fact that you were in possession of an illegal substance is enough to result in license suspension.

Just as is the case with DUI, a first time drug conviction will result in a six month suspension of your driver’s license. For the first 30 days, you will not be able to drive for any reason; whether or not you drive for the remaining five months will depend on whether you get a restricted license. A second drug conviction will result in a one year driver’s license suspension, with no driving for the first 60 days. It is also important to note that you will not simply be “given” restricted driving rights after the initial suspension period. It costs $125 to have your license reinstated, even to drive on a restricted basis. When your license is restricted, you will be permitted to drive only under certain circumstances or at specific times of the day. A restricted license does not give you free reign to go about your daily life and drive whenever or wherever you like.

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On Monday morning July 14, a 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of DUI after striking a 15-year-old pedestrian and fleeing the scene, according to a news article at CBS Los Angeles. The victim, a female, was transported to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana where she is being treated for a skull fracture and is said to be in stable condition. pedestrian-crossing-sign-949267-m

The alleged hit-and-run driver, Ryota Takamatsu, was arrested and charged with felony DUI and felony hit-and-run after being apprehended.

Police say that the 15-year-old girl was running against a red light in a crosswalk when she was hit by a white SUV. Officers were dispatched to the scene at about 1:30 a.m., and reported that the defendant fled in the 2003 Saturn Vue SUV, sometimes driving with the headlights off in order to elude capture. Another motorist who followed the suspect helped officers locate Takamatsu, who was booked into the Costa Mesa County Jail awaiting transfer to the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana. He was being held on $100,000 bail at the time of news reports.

In the state of Michigan, leaving the scene of an accident (hit-and-run) may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on whether the accident results in property or vehicle damage, or injury to others and the extent of those injuries. If someone sustains severe bodily injury or death as a result of a hit-and-run accident, the offender may face up to 5 years in prison and substantial fines. Even minor injury to another person may result in up to one year in prison.

In addition, depending on the seriousness of the injuries a victim suffers, someone who is suspected to be driving under the influence may be charged with DUI causing serious bodily injury. If found guilty of this felony offense, an individual may be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in prison and face fines of up to $5,000. License revocation and possible vehicle forfeiture are other criminal penalties that may be imposed.

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On Monday, July 14, a Lawrence County man’s conviction in the 2009 murder of a couple who was found shot to death in their home was upheld by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, according to a news article at WLOX 13 News. 66-year-old Charles Arthur Moore was convicted of the shooting deaths of Bailey and Betty Nichols in April of 2013. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. glock-29-replica-1-1249005-m

Bailey Nichols was Moore’s business property landlord, according to the attorney general’s office. Apparently, Moore had not been paying the rent on his business and owed Nichols $2,000. Nichols and his wife were shot to death in their Lawrence County home after the two men had arranged to meet at the Nichols’ home concerning the rent Moore owed.

Moore was ultimately connected to the crime through tire tread found at the scene, a .32 caliber pistol, and a wallet containing Bailey Nichols’ belongings which were found at Moore’s residence when authorities executed a search warrant.

Soon after being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Moore sought to have his conviction reversed on appeal. News reports do not reveal argument or grounds on which Moore or his attorneys based the appeal.

Typically, individuals appeal a conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel, errors made in the trial or court process, improper admission of eyewitness testimony or criminal history, or other factors. Every individual who is charged with a crime has the right to a fair trial, and in some instances mistakes are made that are unfair to the defendant and may affect whether he or she is found guilty. Tragically, some individuals are found guilty of crimes they did not commit; in this case, appealing the conviction is essential.

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On Tuesday evening July the 8th, Costa Mesa police discovered two men who were allegedly preparing to smoke heroin inside a bathroom stall at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, according to a news article at NBC Los Angeles. Police Sgt. Patrick Wessel stated that the two men went to the location to meet with a drug supplier. pizza-1329803-m

The two men who were arrested at the Chuck E. Cheese in Orange County located at 2300 Harbor Blvd. were Daniel Lubach, 27, and Collin Zborowski, 28. Police said that both men were determined to be under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of their arrest. Police also confiscated the drugs (heroin) and paraphernalia the two men were in possession of at the time of the arrest. Costa Mesa officers were uncertain whether the two had attempted to sell drugs at the restaurant.

Collin Zborowski faces several misdemeanor charges and one count of felony possession of a controlled substance. At the time of the report, he was being held on $20,000 bail in the Orange County Jail. Lubach faces misdemeanor charges and was released from custody on a written promise to appear.

Possession of heroin or any controlled substance is serious, regardless of the state in which an individual resides. In California, a person found guilty of heroin possession may face penalties that include up to three years in prison. For a first-time offender, probation and a brief jail stay are more likely.

In Michigan, heroin possession is also classified as a felony. The criminal penalties an individual faces if convicted depends on several factors, including the amount of heroin involved. For example, possession of less than 50 grams will result in up to four years in prison, while possession of up to 449 grams may result in a maximum of 20 years in prison. The more heroin a person is found in possession of, the more likely it is that police will suspect the individual intended to sell or distribute the drug; this could result in “trumped up” charges of possession of heroin with intent to distribute/deliver, resulting in even harsher penalties.

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Over the July 4th holiday weekend, a 29-year-old Pendleton, Indiana man was arrested for operating while intoxicated. According to the Indy Star, Jerrel Watkins was booked into the Madison County Jail following his arrest. Watkins was convicted of an incident in 2012 in which he was driving drunk when he caused a crash that left an on-duty police officer paralyzed. bottle-series-4-201960-m

Watkins pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury in the incident in which a test revealed that his BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was 0.29% at the time of the crash. This is more than three times the legal limit of 0.08% in most states across the U.S.

The crash, which occurred on June 11 of 2012, took place when Santos Cortez was responding to a report of a hit-and-run and was struck while enroute by Watkins, who was trying to flee. Cortez’ patrol car struck a pickup truck before he was thrown out the front passenger side window, according to court documents. Watkins was sentenced in February of last year to three years in prison along with six months of community service. He was also convicted of public intoxication and criminal mischief earlier this year.

News reports do not indicate the charges Watkins faces in this latest DUI incident, however Michigan DUI attorneys know that the charges are likely serious, considering the defendant’s past issues with driving under the influence, and the fact that he left a police officer paralyzed.

All drunk driving offenses are serious, whether an individual is arrested for the first time, third time, or even more. DUI is a crime that results in serious criminal penalties and potential loss of freedom. In the state of Michigan, an individual convicted of OUIL causing serious bodily injury will likely face up to five years in prison and fines of as much as $5,000. Even when no one else is injured, a DUI conviction can result in jail/prison time, fines, driver’s license suspension or revocation, community service, possible vehicle impoundment, and more depending on the offense.

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On June 30, 36-year-old Bassel Saad of Dearborn was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm after seriously injuring John Bieniewicz, a 44-year-old soccer referee who attempted to eject Saad from a Livonia soccer match on June 29. Bieniewicz. The charges against Saad were elevated to second-degree murder after the victim succumbed to his injuries on July 1, according to news reports at Mlive.com. football-goal-1430837-m

On Thursday, Saad was arraigned on the charges just hours before the referee’s funeral. A not guilty plea was entered on Saad’s behalf by the judge, and a $1 million bond set. Wayne County District Judge Kathleen McCann called Bieniewicz’s death a “horrendous tragedy.” According to the autopsy, the victim suffered blunt force trauma to the neck, the cause of his death.

Police claim that the victim was punched when he tried to eject Saad from the adult-league soccer match by raising a red card. Bieniewicz, a resident of Westland, worked at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor as a dialysis technician. A charitable fund was established online to help support the victim’s two sons; at the time of news reports, more than $140,000 had been raised.

What is described above is an unfortunate loss of life that appears to have been caused by anger. While it is unlikely Saad actually meant to kill the referee, he will face serious consequences if convicted of second-degree murder. In the state of Michigan, second-degree murder encompasses all types of murder not considered first-degree, or premeditated murder. Ultimately, the defendant’s fate will lie in the hands of the court. Jurors may determine that the defendant deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars, or any number of years.

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There are various reasons an individual’s driver’s license may be suspended or revoked, including driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failure to pay child support, and multiple traffic infractions. Regardless of why your license was suspended, driving on a suspended or revoked license could leave you facing consequences that are even more serious.road-perspective-1409941-m

As experienced Michigan driver’s license reinstatement attorneys, we understand that there are situations that are real emergencies, times when it is all but impossible to avoid driving. However, running to the convenience store for a pack of cigarettes is not an emergency, nor is driving your children to school or attending a doctor’s appointment. When your license is suspended or revoked in the state, that is one of the hardships – you must find other means of transportation, whether a friend, family member, taxi cab, bus, etc.

What is the harm in driving when your license has been suspended? You know you won’t get caught – that’s what many people who DID get caught thought before getting behind the wheel. When you get into a vehicle, you have no idea what is ahead of you. One example of this:

Recently, a Massachusetts man crashed into a 20-year-old jogger who had stopped to talk with a friend on a sidewalk. Haley Cremer died, and now 44-year-old Jeffrey Bickoff is facing charges of vehicular homicide, speeding, and driving with a suspended license. Had Bickoff not made the decision to get behind the wheel, Cremer would likely still be alive – and Bickoff would not be facing vehicular homicide charges.

While this is an extremely serious situation, you could be hit by another vehicle while driving, be pulled over for a tail light that isn’t functioning properly, or for any number of reasons. The fact is, driving on a suspended license will lead to fines, doubling the length of the original suspension period, and possible even jail time depending on your case. Is it really worth the potential penalties, or even possibly finding yourself in a situation similar to the above?

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In May of 2008, Randall Mays, who is now 54 years old, was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering two Henderson County deputies in Texas, according to the Athens Review. Mays reportedly fired shots that killed the deputies as they responded to a residential disturbance in Payne Springs in May of 2007. The shots fired by May took the lives of HCSO Investigator Paul Habelt and Henderson County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Tony Ogburn. Another deputy was also seriously injured in the shooting.man-shooting-a-gun-1390372-m

In September of 2009, the first appeal of Mays’ death sentence was appealed by his attorney. One year later, another appeal was filed claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. Mays’ attorneys claimed that the death penalty was unconstitutional because Mays is mentally ill. An individual who is sentenced to death in Texas is entitled to an automatic appeal to the Austin Criminal Appeals Court under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Ultimately, the first round of appeals for Mays were rejected and his execution date was scheduled for August 23 of 2011. All of the defendant’s state appeals had been exhausted, but Mays was informed that an appeal to federal court would be the only method of preventing his execution. A stay of execution was granted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas so that the appeal could proceed, although the U.S. Supreme court had denied his appeal earlier. On Monday, July 7, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused Mays’ appeal of his death sentence.

There are many reasons an individual’s sentence may be appealed, depending on the defendant’s state of residence. While there is no death penalty in the state of Michigan, those sentenced for violent or serious crimes may wish to appeal their sentence or even conviction based on such grounds as errors in the criminal justice system, ineffective assistance of counsel, even wrongful conviction. Judges, attorneys, law enforcement, even jurors can make mistakes which may work to the benefit of the defendant. No matter how serious a crime, all people in the U.S. have the right to a fair trial. Sometimes, the process of trying someone for a criminal offense is anything but fair.

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It probably comes as no surprise to most people reading this article that Independence Day is the deadliest holiday on the calendar for motorists in the U.S. in recent years. This past weekend, several states participated in “no refusal” DUI checkpoints, a controversial initiation in which drivers have no choice but to have their blood tested for blood alcohol content level. Some of the states that participated included Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas. News reports claim that the states and counties that participate have a judge on call to issue search warrants so that blood can be taken and tested. fireworks-2008-1036915-m

Over the long July 4th weekend (between Thursday and Saturday) in 2014, 389 people were arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in Arizona, according to a news report at CBS 46. This was an increase of 28 arrests over 2013 in the state. Another report claims that in Houston, Texas (Harris County), 192 people were arrested for suspected DUI – this is in a single county. This county participated in the “no refusal” initiative, perhaps one reason so many people were arrested.

Not surprisingly, many people oppose the no refusal initiative, claiming that it violates Americans’ protection against searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. Gregory P. Isaacs, a defense attorney in Tennessee, stated that “This law really opens Pandora’s box on virtually every DUI stop and weakens all of our fundamental freedoms.”

As seasoned Michigan DUI defense lawyers, we know that people celebrate many holidays by enjoying a couple of beers, a few drinks, or a glass or two of wine. While there is nothing at all wrong with that, choosing to get behind the wheel of an automobile may be a choice you regret. Drunken driving is a serious offense in Michigan and across the nation, and could result in serious or even fatal injury to yourself or other innocent people. Just don’t do it.

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