As the name implies, the exclusionary rule works to exclude or “leave out” a piece of evidence in a criminal or civil trial. Essentially, this rule is used in courts across the U.S. to keep people’s constitutional rights from being abused by police or other government agents. Anyone who has watched CSI or other crime dramas on television has probably heard of the exclusionary rule, however most of these shows don’t properly depict how this rule can impact the outcome in real world cases. iStock_000034696960_XXXLarge-2-300x200

Essentially, evidence that is gathered by the prosecution in an unlawful manner should be excluded from trial. When evidence is obtained in an illegal manner it may violate the constitutional rights of the defendant; if so, it cannot be used as evidence against the defendant in an effort to secure a conviction. Examples of this are when police, law enforcement agencies, or other government agencies collect evidence in an unlawful search or seizure, or other conduct that violates the defendant’s constitutional rights.

Suppose you are pulled over while driving down the road and police have no probable cause or reasonable suspicion for doing so. You weren’t speeding, driving in an erratic manner, or violating any traffic rules. All of your headlights, tail lights, and brake lights are working and your tags haven’t expired. There was absolutely no reason for police to pull you over, however in doing so they find a bag of marijuana or other illegal substance in the passenger seat. Can the bag of marijuana or drugs be used as evidence to prove the crime of drug possession? Under the exclusionary rule, it shouldn’t be admissible as evidence.

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On September 12, 2017, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board left many patients and caregivers with a sense of fear and frustration. As one member of the audience stated, “Does this board want us to start buying drugs on the street? That’s what it sounds like to me? I did everything right and now they are going to compromise my medical needs!!!” dutch-weed-403-m

The words of that patient was shared by many when updates were released from the Michigan Cannabis Community. The highlights of the meeting are outlined below and lead many to wonder what will happen next. The points that were stated include:

1. Dispensaries will close on December 15 and will not reopen until late March (if ever).

What if I told you that a business that seems to be legal and a cure to the economic crisis in the state of Michigan was growing more vulnerable by the day? While that may seem like a stretch to many that are reading this, the first meeting of Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Licensing Board in June of this year left far more questions than answers and in all communications since the issue of medical cannabis has grown even murkier. We are left with the thought that the issue of medical cannabis can be the savior for the consistent Michigan economic crisis or it could lead to an array of criminal prosecutions. To address some of these answers, we turned to leaders in the legal community to provide insight. What they had to say was insightful but also should put cannabis dispensaries on alert. marijuana leaf

We started the research by speaking to Scott Grabel and Grabel and Associates. With offices in Lansing, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan, Grabel has evolved into the leader of criminal defense in the state of Michigan. Grabel stated, “When Governor Rick Snyder named Rick Johnson as the Chairman of the Cannabis Board he sent a clear message that the state was going to have a conservative spin on the topic. In addition to Johnson, Board Member Donald Bailey has stated clearly that every dispensary operating right now is in violation of the “Michigan Medical Marihuana Act” and with that comment being placed on the public record, our state will be faced with two critical issues: The first being that they can leave business as usual and not threaten prosecutions. The other option has far greater consequences to one’s freedom but can also equate to money for the state. If Michigan starts a sweep of criminal prosecution there could be many fines levied and that is a direction the state could go. While this is not a pleasant thought, it is a possibility that we need to face head on and with intelligence. If we prepare for that possibility we can preserve freedom, if we are negligent, a lot of good people can face a multitude of ugly consequences.”

Matthew McManus, a partner at Ann Arbor Legal, in Ann Arbor, Michigan weighed in. McManus stated, “It is amazing how many lawyers are making money by providing bad advice. It is almost as if many litigators are overlooking the preemption issue. The 10th Amendment is not a guarantee to be a safeguard in this situation. This is the dawning of a new age in Michigan but the only ones’ that can reap the benefits are those that are a step ahead of the game. To not prepare or have an attorney provide you lip service is not going to be advantageous to anybody. If you have been in violation, the time to mitigate intelligently is the move as opposed to posting about cannabis on Instagram and Facebook. The lack of intelligence displayed by some of those in our field is shocking. This board is not one that is going to display a great deal of forgiveness for a lack of respect. As a group, we need to prepare and do better.”

Unfortunately, many people look at the potential misfortune others face as an opportunity to “loot” others’ possession, raise

hurricane irma approaching irma from NOAA

Courtesy NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center/Handout

prices, and commit other crimes.  Given the harsh hurricane season and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, those in the Houston areas and all across Florida may become the victims of looters and price gouging in addition to the other issues they face following the devastation often left behind.

Following Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, officials were not going to make it easy for those who were considering breaking into homes or businesses for the purpose of stealing.  Lawmakers vowed zero tolerance for looters, and according to news reports arrested 14 individuals.  Other reports claimed that following the hurricane, nearly 100 firearms were stolen from stores in the area.   Continue reading

One form of criminal prosecution that has been on the rise throughout the state of Michigan has to do with the famed “Blue Sky Laws” which has consistently presented issues in the white collar sect of criminal prosecution. While the laws were put into place to protect investors, the application of the laws have led to a tremendous amount of confusion. The leader in criminal defense in the State of Michigan is Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates. One of the ways that Grabel has earned his reputation is through the defense of “White Collar” crimes. Grabel, along with other leaders in the field provided insight on the matter. Let’s build an understanding of the law and then explore the practical application of the statutes in place. to-sign-a-contract-2-1221951-m

To begin, there are federal requirements to the law. Securities are subject to state registration requirements under state securities laws. In our state we have several registration exemptions for offerings to a limited number of investors which makes the filing of foreign LLC’s in the state of Michigan a dangerous proposition. In some cases, Michigan exemption provisions are preempted by federal law but in many other cases they are not. When asked about the laws, Scott Grabel provided insight on the manner. Grabel was quoted as saying, “There is a danger to the Commerce Clause when we look at the issue of Blue Sky Laws globally. Generically speaking, all securities sold in a particular state must either be registered there or be exempt from registration; and all broker-dealers and their representatives must be registered there or be exempt from registration. The origination of the law causes a great deal of confusion for investors. People seem to think that Justice Joseph McKenna created the term in the famous Hall case but that’s not actually factual (Hall v. Geiger-Jones Co., 214 U.S. 539, [1917]). Without knowing how the term was created makes it almost impossible to see the evolution of the law. When our firm started to defense people charged with a violation of the law, we studied the origins and created case studies from there. The work put in on the front end of the litigation has helped us achieve a great amount of success for our clients.”

Matthew McManus, a partner at Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan weighed in on the civil litigation aspect. McManus stated, “Whenever our firm deals with foreign investors, we have a series of questions that have to be addressed, the first being how many investors does the company plan to have. There are a number of limitations that far too often get overlooked. If your client-intake is flawed, your entire representation can lead to harm for your client and a malpractice claim. Diligence is crucial in this regard.”

Most people who own a gun in Michigan either purchase it for hunting, or protecting their property and family. It can be a comforting feeling to know you have a way to defend yourself if necessary, however many don’t realize the legal ramifications of shooting or killing someone who they believed was threatening their life or invading their property. iStock_000008551433_Large-2-300x200

In June of 2016 a Jackson County man was charged with two counts of second-degree murder after he shot two teens who were on his property and attempting to break into his vehicles. Is this self-defense? Tracy Lawrence reportedly shot at the boys as they were fleeing, which under Michigan law is unlawful. In order to use a self-defense claim, a person has to have reasonable fear that his or her life is in imminent danger, or that great bodily harm will occur.

A similar incident occurred in Minnesota when a 65-year-old man shot at a vehicle in which three teens who were “casing” his home for a future burglary were attempting to flee after the man came to the window and startled the teens. The man claims he was shooting at the front tire in an effort to stop the teens, however a bullet struck the driver and killed him. He now stands charged with reckless discharge of a firearm and second-degree manslaughter.

Following the death of Prince in 2016, Fentanyl became a well-known painkiller that prior to that time was rarely mentioned. Unfortunately, people often take this drug believing it is hydrocodone although it’s said to be 50 times stronger than heroin. Still, regardless of the danger, many continue to sell or distribute this Schedule II drug which not only causes severe dependence but is highly abused. While it is approved for use in cancer patients with excruciating pain, using it in any criminal manner may result in serious consequences. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Used as a recreational drug, many who purchase what they believe to be other narcotic drugs such as heroin or opioid drugs often don’t realize the drug is actually fentanyl disguised as another pharmaceutical or “street” drugs. Over the last 17 years thousands of individuals have died as a result of using fentanyl, even when prescribed by medical professionals but used improperly by patients in some cases.

Fentanyl is highly potent, and can result in overdose when used by those who are seeking a “high” because of its addictive properties. Derived from morphine, fentanyl is not only administered via IV prior to surgery but can also be taken in tablet, lozenge, film, powder, nasal spray, or transdermal (through the skin) form.

There was a time when the drunk driving laws in the state of Michigan had a friendly overtone to them but as most things in our state, things are constantly changing. The reality is that Michigan has transitioned from the auto capital of the world to a state that is competing to be the leader in the marijuana industry and with these changing times, forgiveness for drunk driving offenses has taken on an entirely new persona. With tougher laws, we are going to need tougher lawyers. Perhaps nobody in the state of Michigan is tougher on defending drunk driving offenses than Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates. iStock_000009751642_Full-2-300x253

When asked about these changing times, Grabel stated, “In June of this year, our legislature sent a clear message to their citizens and that message was that drunk driving laws were going to get tougher. There was hope that the laws would revert back to more forgiveness as it was in 2003 but message was shot down.”

The history of Michigan and the state’s views on drunk driving laws has been colorful to say the least. In 2003, legislators approved changing the per se blood alcohol content level for concluding a driver is intoxicated from 0.10 to 0.08. But lawmakers at that time included a 10-year “sunset” on the law. The sunset meant that the law would expire in 2013 but it was that year that the legislature passed an extension of that sunset, making the 0.08 limit good until Oct. 1, 2018 and with it a clear message that drunk driving would in the state of Michigan would receive no forgiveness.

While there is little question that medical cannabis in Michigan circa 2017 is what Prohibition was in the mid 1930’s, a key to cannabis facilitation is the physician. Lately, the medical professional has become a target for both state and federal prosecution as they are viewed the gateway to helping people obtain their medical marijuana cards. green-wonder-5666-m-225x300

In an article published by the Detroit Free Press on November 3, 2016 it was stated that one doctor approved nearly 12,000 patients for medical marijuana in Michigan. This was the beginning of an array of national scrutiny for doctors across the state with many that have gone into hiding. If medical cannabis is legal in the state of Michigan, why are medical professions fearing for their license? We have a chance to sit down and speak to legal professionals that have garnered attention as the top in the criminal industry to discuss the issue at length. What they have to say provides a combination of both legal expertise and common sense. The first to weigh in on the issue was Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates.

Grabel has developed a reputation as the top criminal litigator across the state of Michigan. One of the ways that Grabel has developed his stellar reputation is defending those in the cannabis field many of whom include those in the medical profession. Grabel stated, “We have to start with the premise that there are good doctors and bad doctors in the field. There are those that truly want to help patients and those that want to make a quick buck. No matter what category the physician falls into, many seem to forget that they need to establish a ‘bona-fide physician-patient relationship’ and this means meeting the doctor for more than just obtaining your marijuana card. If there is not a relationship established and we are looking at a one-time transaction, everyone, including the patient is vulnerable. The lack of due diligence from even those with the best of intentions can lead to loss of licensure and criminal prosecution. Our job in litigation should be to tutor the physician about the law as opposed to just taking their money. We have an obligation and the reality is that many lawyers are in this field for the wrong reasons. Many of our clients consult with us before they face incarceration. There is no question that prevention is often the best defense.”

In Michigan, we have some of the most severe laws in our country when it comes to the punishment of drivers that have lost their license. Today will be the first in a series of articles that will discuss the topic of Driver’s License Restoration. We will begin by tackling the issue of the eligibility requirements for restoring your driver’s license once it has been revoked. cruising-1430324-m-300x199

What are the rules for eligibility in the State of Michigan?

The first thing to keep in mind is the timing of asking to have your license restored. According to the Michigan Secretary of State, the rules state that one can apply for restoration 1 year after your first revocation or 5 years after any subsequent revocation within 7 years. While that timing seems harsh to many not in the legal profession, there are pitfalls that many people do not consider when dealing with this issue.

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