While police officers in Michigan are trusted to keep residents safe and do their best to prevent crime, there are many “secrets” cops keep close to their vest – secrets they don’t want those accused of crimes to know. Why is this? Basically, if individuals suspected of committing crimes were aware of police secrets, prosecutors likely would not secure the number of convictions they do today as a result of police investigations.

It’s important to keep in mind that police officers make a living not only protecting the public, but making arrests and assisting in case preparation for prosecutors. Keeping this in mind, if you’re a suspect in a criminal case, why should you help the police gain the upper hand in an investigation that could result in criminal charges and a possible conviction? Number one, if you’re a suspect you should never incriminate yourself – this is a right guaranteed by our Constitution.

What are some of those “secrets” law enforcement keep close to the vest, hoping suspects aren’t aware of?

Recently, a federal class action lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit Division against Michigan State Police crime labs claimed that Fourth Amendment rights and due process are violated by the current marijuana reporting policy. medical marijuana leaf

According to news reports, the lawsuit would directly impact anyone caught with marijuana in the state, along with about 180,000 medical marijuana patients who are registered. Attorneys who filed the suit said that the MSP crime labs, in conjunction with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Dept. and Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan misreport marijuana as synthetic, and do so intentionally. The lawsuit also alleges that the marijuana policy which was written in 2013 was designed in an attempt to “strip medical marijuana patients of their rights and immunities, charge or threaten to charge citizens with greater crimes than they might have committed, obtain plea deals and increase proceeds from drug forfeiture.”

This basically stems from a lab policy instructing MSP crime lab techs to treat all TCH (the active ingredient in marijuana) as synthetic when not 100% certain it originates from a plant. While it may not sound like much, it is according to Michigan law. Essentially, individuals who are accused of manufacturing or selling synthetic THC or cannabis will face criminal charges that are far more serious than those accused of producing or selling cannabis grown as a plant.

Of all 50 states in the U.S., 20 do not compensate those who are wrongly convicted of crimes and ultimately set free – Michigan is one of those states. However, a bill is on the table that could hopefully change how exonerees are treated if it is voted on by the House and signed by Governor Snyder, which could potentially happen in just a few months. 979960_prison

Unfortunately for individuals who have been wrongly convicted of even the most serious crimes, Senate Bill 291 has been floating around Lansing for 13 years, since 2003. If the bill passes, exonerees would be compensated $60,000 per year for each year spent in prison after being wrongfully convicted. In addition, those wrongly convicted would receive lost wages and other “economic damages” along with attorney fees according to Michiganvotes.org/2015-SB-291.

It seems ironic that while individuals who have been wrongly convicted (and there are MANY) have received nothing all of these years, while parolees have help obtaining housing, clothing, employment, transportation, and more. In fact, the Reentry Program will spend more than $13 million this year paying to help parolees get back on their feet, while those exonerated get nothing – except for heartache, of course.

Anyone with a criminal record knows it can really cause problems in terms of employment, housing, obtaining (or keeping) a professional license, and more. While there are many criminal convictions that can be set aside or “expunged” from your record, there are also some convictions that are ineligible for expungement. Essentially, for those whose conviction qualifies, your public criminal record can be set aside – this simply means you will have a clean record should a potential employer, landlord, lender, or someone else perform a background check. iStock_000003118029_Large (2)

Which criminal convictions cannot be expunged from your record?

Basically, a conviction for those crimes considered the most serious or heinous cannot be expunged from your record. These convictions include:

This year, the 4th of July holiday falls on Monday, which means many people will be enjoying a long weekend. More people will be celebrating, having parties, and likely enjoying a few adult beverages. It’s a good time for most folks, but it’s important to focus on safety whether you’re having a few beers or planning a fireworks display of your own!

The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act makes it legal to purchase bottle rockets, roman candles, and other fireworks that can leave the ground and shoot into almost any direction. This means that any time you’re shooting off fireworks, there is a risk to adults, children, and even animals or property. Naturally, the more powerful or large a firework is, the greater the risk of injury.

Last year, more than 20,000 individuals signed an online petition calling for repeal of the state’s consumer-grade fireworks law due to not only fire and injury concerns, but even the noise and distraction caused by fireworks. In 2015, there were 67 emergency room visits as of July 8th that were linked to injuries caused by fireworks; one man died after holding a large mortar fireworks shell to his head, according to news reports.

Most people believe that attorneys use “complicated” language, or what some refer to as legalese.  While the legal terms used in the everyday life of a lawyer are well understood (for the most part) by other attorneys, those who don’t practice law, who have been arrested for a crime, or who are involved in a lawsuit often don’t understand these terms.  From assault and battery to robbery, burglary, malfeasance, depose, and punitive or compensatory damages, we’ll try to put these legal terms in a light that makes them easier to understand.
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In the state of Michigan there are countless local bar associations, including the Grand Rapids Bar Association, Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, Oakland and Ingham County Bar Associations, and even “special purpose” bars such as Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, Michigan Lawyers Alliance, Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association, and Michigan Defense Trial Counsel.  While the number of Michigan Bar Associations are too numerous to mention, we’ll discuss a few of them below.

Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association.  The oldest bar association in the state and one of the three oldest in the U.S., this bar was organized before Michigan became a state, in 1836 when Andrew Jackson was President.  Originally known as the Bar of the City of Detroit, the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association was formally incorporated 125 years ago, established to “promote the due administration of justice, maintain the dignity of the profession and cultivate social intercourse among its members” in 1881.  Even today, this bar association is highly dedicated to community service and committed to maintaining strong relationships with the judiciary and members.

Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, or CDAM, is the largest statewide criminal defense lawyer organization in the state and a 501(C)(3) nonprofit.  CDAM works frequently with lawmakers regarding changes to legislature and actively promotes expertise in constitutional and criminal law, procedure, and focuses on improving trial and appellate advocacy.  CDAM hosts the Trial Practice College and also sponsors educational opportunities at a wide array of conferences.  These conferences include presentations from many of the most knowledgeable and skilled lawyers in specific practice areas of criminal defense.  The Trial Practice College is where criminal defense attorneys are taught the differences between trying to win cases, and trying cases to win.

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Summer is officially underway, and in Laurel, MS authorities have already warned residents of the increase in crime rates over summer months.  Local police say crime begins to rise along with the temperatures, and that it happens every year.  Most of the crimes are vandalism and property crimes such as vehicle and residential burglaries, but Mississippi isn’t alone.  It seems that across the nation, crime increases as temperatures heat up.

We discussed the possible reasons for this in a recent article – kids are out of school, people are out and about more, social events are more prevalent during summer months, even the fact that the heat can make some people extremely agitated or aggressive.  Whatever the reason, it’s a fact – summer is when we see an increase in crime.
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We’ve all long been aware that during the warmer summer months, crime rates seem to soar.  Is it just our imaginations, or do violent and property crimes really escalate during summer?  Unfortunately, increased crime as the temperatures heat up is a fact.  According to a Department of Justice report, burglaries are 10.5% more common during the summer than in winter months.

Law enforcement professionals strongly believe that as temperatures rise, so do the number of violent crimes.  In fact, according to a June 2015 report at the Chicago Tribune, murders were already up by 20% in New York over the same period in 2014, and shootings up 10% over that same time.
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Most attorneys, whether they practice in criminal defense, personal injury, family

fathers day 2016

law, or another area of focus, work an excessive number of hours each week.  While successful lawyers do generally enjoy a comfortable living, their time off is cherished.  With Father’s Day coming up, you may be wondering what you can do for the dad who seems to have everything!  The truth is, many attorneys relish just relaxing and spending time with family more than any “gift” that could be purchased.

Considering the time of year Father’s Day falls, the weather is nice across most of the country.  Adult children may want to consider doing something for their attorney dads such as throwing a steak or burger on the grill and enjoying a relaxing meal outdoors.  A drink or glass of wine before dinner, good conversation, just being a family and being together can mean more than anything to a father.  Attorneys’ time is valuable, so a day off with family and just kicking back is sometimes priceless!

Gift ideas for attorneys
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