In Michigan, the field of criminal law presents more considerable obstacles than many other states. The biggest issue that criminal defense lawyers face comes out of the Lockridge decision. In Lockridge, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that scoring guidelines for criminal defendants were advisory. While that initially appeared to be a win for the criminal defendant, the reality is that the decision allowed the judge to exceed guidelines without fear for an appeal. The outcome presented stricter sentencing for those that plea or have been convicted at a trial of a felony. With an already difficult task at hand, many are left to wonder how the press plays a role in the criminal justice system. To discuss this issue, we sat down with three of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan to gather their insight into this issue. iStock_000013714975_Double-2-300x217

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has put together what most consider the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about the interplay with the press, Grabel stated, “Having a good relationship with the press can be very helpful to your case. The press is the voice of the potential jury pool. If the journalist likes you, they will give your client a fair shake. If the press is against you, it makes the battle more difficult. Part of being a good criminal defense lawyer is understanding the pressures of the press and having respect for the job that the journalist has to do. We don’t ask for favors from the press, we ask for objectivity.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo has developed a reputation for his aggression and is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan. When asked about the press, Amadeo was quoted as saying, “I was a journalism major and worked as a journalist for years. The field of journalism is critical to every facet of life. I would never ask a journalist to bend the facts, and I want my client’s side of the story heard. There are two sides to every story, and I’ve always been taught that trying a case in the press is never the way to start a case. With that stated, I would never deny a writer the chance to report a story, and I will fight back in the press when my client is attacked. When dealing with the media, the criminal defense lawyer should learn to counterpunch as opposed to throwing the first jab.”

When the word arraignment is discussed in the criminal law community, most feel that this is when the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. While the previous statement is accurate in state District Courts, the concept becomes more complicated at the federal level. To learn more about this topic, this article will provide detailed information about the subject matter and discuss the issue with three of the top criminal lawyers in the state of Michigan. 12736626-300x199

The definition of the arraignment is a formal hearing in opened court where the defendant hears from the Magistrate of the charges being levied against him or her. This is the first official step in the process of charges being brought against the defendant. The defendant will then have a right to plead guilty or not guilty, argue for a bond, and obtain future court dates. The in-state court, the next step would be the probable cause conference. A federal court can present different obstacles.

Arraignment on the Indictment

In the state of Michigan, three murder charges are the most severe in our state: First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, and Felony Murder. Today, we will discuss the crime of Second Degree Murder in the state of Michigan. iStock_000000182036XSmall-300x224

When a prosecutor brings a charge of Second Degree Murder, they have the burden of proving the following elements:

1. The victim was killed during the act.

In the state of Michigan, the most serious of crimes is the first-degree murder statute. With a conviction of this crime, the Defendant faces life in prison without the possibility of parole and more often than not, the prosecutor on the case will not be allowed to offer a beneficial plea to the Defendant. This means that the criminal defense lawyer needs to be prepared to take the case to trial if they choose to take on this challenge. Hiring the right criminal lawyer for such a charge is essential if the Defendant is to have a chance at freedom. When a prosecutor brings a charge of first-degree murder, it is their burden to prove the following elements: The-History-of-Criminal-Law-Pic-300x200

1. The victim was killed during the crime.

2. The Defendant caused the death of the victim.

In the state of Michigan, there are three main murder charges, and the defense of such is as tricky as any charge could be. The three flavors of murder are First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, and Felony Murder. Today, we will discuss the concept of Felony Murder and explain how some counties frequently look to bring this charge. Personal-Safety-Guides-Protect-Yourself-Against-Sex-Crimes-Pic-300x199

In Black’s Law Dictionary, we see that this is a charge that is brought when the death of one occurs during the course or the attempted course of a felony offense. To prove their case, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:

A. The Defendant is the proximate cause of death.

A Wayne County Jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty for a Detroit man charged with seven felonies on July 17, 2019. Eric Coleman, 27, of Detroit, Michigan, was charged with the following offenses: Discharge of Firearm in a building Causing Injury, Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm, Felonious Assault, False Report of a Felony and three counts of Felony Firearm.gavel-952313-m-300x200

In a case that had garnered a lot of media attention, the defense team of William Amadeo and Peter Winter utilized Michigan’s Castle Doctrine in their advocacy of Coleman. The successful use of the Castle Doctrine has garnered the attention of gun advocates across the state.

Amadeo, a partner at “McManus and Amadeo” in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan was lead counsel on the case. When asked about the “Castle Doctrine,” Amadeo stated, “Pete Winter and I worked around the clock on this defense. With Michigan being a “stand your ground” state, we presented a theory that our jury related to. Eric [Coleman] was the actual victim in this case, and, sadly, he had to fight for his freedom the way that he did, but in the end, justice prevailed.”

One statute that prosecutors across the state of Michigan are at odds over is MCL 750.543m, which is defined as “Making Terrorist Threat or False Report of Terrorism.” This statute carries a 20-year felony and/or a $20,000 fine and states explicitly that intent or capability is not a valid defense. The legislature places this as a strict liability offense, and the application of this law has led to a great deal of controversy. Michigan-Department-of-Corrections-Struggles-With-Budget-Challenges-Pic-300x200

The language of the statute provides:

A person is guilty of making a terrorist threat or of making a false report of terrorism if the person does either of the following:

Michigan is on the rise but not for the reasons you may think. A study was done in 2014 listed our state as the 49th highest ranked state for criminal sexual conduct (CSC) charges. A more recent study (2017) has moved Michigan from number 49 to number 2 in the United States. A close look into Michigan statutes displays that there are harsh penalties even when a promising plea is negotiated. One such law that often traps defendants is Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) 770.9b. This statute calls for the revocation on bond upon a plea of guilty to a CSC of a minor. To discuss this statute in greater detail, we spoke to several of the top criminal defense attorneys’ in the state of Michigan to gather input. 10896969-300x201

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, and his firm is known as the top CSC defense firm in the Midwest. When asked about 770.9b. Grabel stated, “The statute is tricky because even when a no jail sentencing agreement is negotiated, one can have their bond revoked while waiting for their sentence. This is something that most defense lawyers are not prepared for, but the revocation occurs more than one would expect. There are ways to alleviate the revocation, but much of this depends upon which county that you are in.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan. Known as one of the top criminal attorneys in the state of Michigan, Amadeo stated, “I’ve had cases in Washtenaw, Wayne and Macomb County where the judge will agree to continue bond despite the plea when the victim is a minor. Other counties such as Shiawassee or Eaton County you need to prepare your client to have a 6-week stay in jail, even when the sentence is suspended. Judges in Jackson County view this as an “impact period,” and the reality is that if the lawyer does not know the rules of the locale, their client will suffer. I think Judge Nick Holowka said it best when I started CSC defense. He told me, “Bond is a privilege, not a right.” While he continued bond on my client that day, his words were powerful and have always stuck with me throughout my career.”

While the Holmes Youthful Training Act (HYTA) gives young people in the state of Michigan a chance to protect their future, the key to a successful HYTA argument often comes in the petition brought before the court. To explain the key to this petition, we had a chance to speak with some of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state to gain their insight. young_offender

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and is known for successfully arguing HYTA in the most difficult of situations. When asked about the HYTA Petition, Grabel said, “Nothing is as powerful when arguing HYTA as providing support for your argument. A strong HYTA Petition is not always required by the sentencing judge, but it can make all of the difference in the world. We have to remember when we are defending someone between the ages of 17 to 24, an aggressive and character building defense is required. The proper petition can win the day.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo has quickly developed a reputation as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the state of Michigan. When asked about the HYTA Petition, Amadeo stated, “Not every jurisdiction requires an HYTA Petition, but from my experience, a strong petition coupled with a solid sentencing memorandum can move the court. I’ve learned from judges such as Matthew Stewart, Nick Holowka, and Cedric Simpson what it takes to write a solid petition. A young lawyer can learn a lot sitting in the gallery and seeing how a judge will view the defendant, and it can be an amazing tutorial. What I’ve learned from these judges and many others is how to write a strong HYTA Petition. This document, coupled with a solid Sentencing Memorandum, will give your client the most optimal chance to secure their freedom and protect their future.”

While many in the state of Michigan have celebrated legislation that brings cannabis closer to legalization, there are still pitfalls to the distribution of the plant that has been embraced by our state. Since the passing of legislation, prosecutions in the state of Michigan for marijuana distribution have been on the rise. To discuss this issue in further detail, we spoke to top criminal lawyers in the state of Michigan on the topic. shutterstock_97598912-300x201

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a firm that has earned a reputation as being the top defenders of those charged with drug crimes in the state of Michigan. When asked about the upswing in prosecutions, Grabel stated, “This is similar to a trend that we saw in Colorado when cannabis was legalized. With the legalization to those with a license comes an increased black market. The Michigan State Police (MSP) have made it a priority to increase the prosecution of marijuana distribution despite favorable legislation that has been passed. As defense counsel, we need to react appropriately.”

Peter Samouris is a Senior Associate Attorney for Grabel and Associates and the founder of the Samouris Law Firm. Samouris has developed a strong reputation in the criminal defense sector and is known as one of the top litigators in Ingham County. When asked about the current developments, Samouris said, “Since the recreational marijuana law was passed, we have witnessed just how ill-prepared the legislature was for its passage. Of course, that type of unpreparedness created a situation where one can legally smoke, but not legally buy, recreational marijuana. Accordingly, this has been the main catalyst for the huge increase in black market sales.”

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