Have you ever taken your computer to Best Buy to have work done by The Geek Squad? If so, let’s hope that you had nothing incriminating on your computer because the Cyber Working Group for the FBI may have access to your information. hand-over-keyboard-1377963-m

The prosecution of Mark Rettenmaier, a doctor from California came to light because he took his laptop to a local Best Buy. Best Buy then sent Dr. Rettenmaier’s computer to the Kentucky Geek Squad repair facility. It was then learned that the Geek Squad employee called the FBI’s Louisville field office to share the allegedly illegal material. We are left to wonder if one’s Fourth Amendment Rights are violated in this process. To gain insight into how this issue affects the Michigan criminal justice system, we spoke to several of the top criminal lawyers in our state.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a law firm that is known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked for commentary, Grabel stated, “The issue we have to review is whether a defendant loses their expectation of privacy when they hand their computer over to a third party. There has been documentation that payments have been made to confidential Geek Squad informants. If this is the case, there is a concern for constitutional violations.”

One issue that is at the center of controversy in our criminal justice system is bond reform. A New York Daily News article written by Graham Rayman about a drug trafficking ring being released without bail captured the attention of Google. The article focused on a New York state law makes nonviolent drug trafficking is not on the offenses that a judge can impose bail. While New York has taken the lead on bail reform, Michigan is considering a change on the issue of bond. To discuss this issue, we obtained commentary from leaders in the criminal defense sector. law and justice

Scott Grabel is a founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a team of criminal defense lawyers that are known as the top in the state of Michigan. When asked about bail reform, Grabel stated, “One thing that has to be understood is that there is a presumption of innocence when somebody is charged with a crime. That is often forgotten about in our criminal justice system. When a defendant is given a high bond, it cripples their defense and can invade their constitutional rights.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan and proved commentary on the issue. Amadeo said, “Far too often we see heightened bonds without a Magistrate knowing all of the facts. Luckily, we have two tremendous Magistrates in Washtenaw County in Elisha Fink and Tamara Garwood that look to protect the community while protecting the constitutional rights of the defendant. In many other counties, the imposition of the bond becomes an issue of danger to the defendant. If a defendant does not have the option to get bonded out, their chances of winning at trial are greatly reduced. I understand the pressures of the prosecutor to make certain that the defendant comes to court, but we have to meet somewhere in the middle for all involved.”

As of November 2019, the state of Michigan approved the ability for licensed marijuana dispensaries to deliver marijuana and related products to their customers. This adds onto the already-legal medical marijuana delivery system that was previously approved by the state. The state of Michigan has guidelines on both medical and recreational marijuana delivery services that you can read more about here. Once more recreational stores are licensed and operational, this is expected to be a booming business along with the already strong medical marijuana industry. You can already simply go online and order what you like if you are a medical marijuana patient. This delivery service will serve as a natural extension to what is already in place. marijuana leaf

Who Is Allowed To Deliver Marijuana?

Only licensed delivery drivers are allowed to deliver marijuana. The drivers must be over 21 years of age with a valid license to drive. The drivers cannot carry more than 15 ounces of marijuana at any time. Delivery cars must have a GPS locator and any product must be secured inside the vehicle if left unattended. The drivers are not allowed to be employed by more than one delivery service or dispensary. Delivery drivers may only make up to ten deliveries before being required to go back to the dispensary before any further deliveries. The state can request these records for review at any time to ensure compliance. Deliveries must be made to either a residential address or a previously state approved place for marijuana consumption. Basically, have it delivered to your address in order to avoid any issues.

A Grand Blanc, MI man was convicted of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of his wife. He was convicted back in 2017 due to evidence that he knocked her over the head with a flashlight and stabbed her six times with a military style knife. One of the stabs was directly into the victim’s heart. He then took selfie videos after the incident confessing to killing her, but never called 911 or any other help. The judge presiding later sentenced the 46-year old man to a minimum of 50 years in state prison before any eligibility for parole. shutterstock_92369299-300x200

In the state of Michigan, a prosecutor can charge what is called “open murder” which gives a jury different options as to which murder charge is most appropriate if any. In the current case, the decision was made by the jury to convict on second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder. The reason this is important in the current case is that when a jury convicts on first-degree murder, the sentence is pretty much set as life or any term of years. If a jury comes back with a verdict finding that the defendant is guilty of second-degree murder, then the judge in the case has wide latitude in determining sentence due to sentencing guidelines. The judge here decided to far exceed the sentencing guidelines as the defendant had a sentencing guideline minimum of 13.5 years. The Michigan court of appeals has now said that the judge went too far in sentencing the defendant to a minimum of 50 years and sent the case back to the trial court for resentencing.

What Are Sentencing Guidelines?

In a move that may present changes to the California Legislature, Senator Nancy Skinner (D-California) has announced a bill that would raise the age of adult prosecutions to 20 years of age within their state. Senate Bill 899 has garnered a tremendous amount of attention on social media. It could have a profound effect on Michigan legislation. iStock_000025943007_XXXLarge-2-300x200

Senator Skinner has publicly stated, “When teenagers make serious mistakes and commit crimes, state prison is not the answer. Processing teenagers through the juvenile justice system will help ensure they receive the appropriate education, counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation services necessary to achieve real public safety outcomes.” When asked about this legislation and its impact on the state of Michigan, we spoke to leaders in the criminal law community to gain their insight.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a law firm that is known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about Senate Bill 899, Grabel stated, “The “Raise the Age” plan by Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township) has also made strides to protect young people. The reality is that juveniles should be treated differently than their adult counterparts in the criminal justice system. The California Bill could have a profound effect on protecting our youth across the country.”

One of the few civic requirements we have as U.S. citizens is that of jury duty. There aren’t many terms that get the collective “ugh” like jury duty does. It is one of our highest responsibilities, yet it is generally viewed in a pretty negative way. The first thing that most people do when receiving a summons for jury duty is to reach out to their lawyer friend to ask them how to get out of it! In this quick guide, we will discuss who gets chosen for jury duty, what to expect if you are chosen, and what can happen if you don’t show up. 12736626-300x199

Who Gets Chosen For Jury Duty?

Any U.S. citizen aged 18 or older is eligible to be chosen for jury duty as long he or she doesn’t have any felony convictions. The jury pool is comprised of people who live in your district that have a valid ID or driver’s license. You must be able to communicate and understand the English language in order to serve as a juror. You also must be physically and mentally able to carry out the functions of a juror to serve as one. If you have physical limitations that prevent you from sitting in one place for too long or have any mental limitations that prevent you from being able to pay close attention for longer periods of time then those could be legitimate reasons to be excused from serving as a juror. If you are older than 70, then you may request an age exemption from jury service. Finally, you may not serve on more than one jury in a twelve-month period.

The Practice Of Hazing iStock_000001825952_Large-300x225

Hazing is a sort of ritualistic action that is meant to indoctrinate individuals to join into certain groups. This practice is typically meant to embarrass, demean, and devalue individuals as a sort of way to prove their loyalty to the group or team they are attempting to join. Hazing can consist of forced alcohol consumption, forced physical labor, along with various forms of humiliation. Hazing occurs on sports teams and clubs, along with college fraternities and sororities. Hazing is a ritual that is focused on power and control. While some hazing can be minor and generally innocent, other forms of hazing can easily go too far. Hazing can lead to criminal charges and penalties if certain factors are present.

Potential For Criminal Charges Due To Hazing

What Is Fentanyl And Why Is It Being Smuggled Into The United States? iStock_000002709890_Large-2-300x200

Fentanyl is an opioid that was originally intended to be used as a painkiller and in conjunction with other drugs for anesthesia. Fentanyl was approved for common medical use in the United States in 1968. As of 2017, fentanyl was the most commonly used synthetic opioid in the medical world. Now fentanyl is also used a recreational drug, often mixed with heroin or cocaine. As a painkiller, fentanyl is more than 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl and its “structural analogs” are classified as Schedule II drugs by the federal government. This means that fentanyl has medical usefulness, but also a high potential for physical and psychological dependency and abuse. Structural analogs are synthetically made designer drugs that have a very similar scientific structure to the original but have a difference as to avoid criminal laws. Fentanyl has a handful of structural analogs that have also been declared illegal under state and federal law. The size of a few grains of salt of fentanyl could be a deadly dose to the user. It is an extremely powerful drug.

Fentanyl is now being seized at the United States/ Canada border in Detroit at alarming rates. Statistics show that from 2015-17 there was just over one-half pound of fentanyl seized in that three-year period. In 2018 alone that number nearly tripled to almost a pound and a half. As of 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized nearly 10.5 pounds of fentanyl. That is enough to kill nearly 1.5 million people. Nationally the rate of fentanyl seized today is 35 times what it was back in 2015. The recreational demand for fentanyl is at an all-time high. Its potency and addictiveness are what could continue to increase this frightening trend.

Your initial choice in who your attorney is to defend you in a criminal case is obviously a very important one. Your attorney can single-handedly be the reason why you win or lose your case. Everyone wants the luxury of feeling that their attorney is the right one for the job every time they step foot in a courtroom. What happens if you aren’t happy with their work? What happens if the attorney-client relationship has gotten to the point that it is no longer workable? Are you allowed to switch attorneys in the middle of your case? Is that even a good idea? These are some of the questions that come about during certain cases. Sometimes, the attorney you initially hire really isn’t the person for the job and it is your responsibility to do something about it. That is, if the court will allow the change. iStock_000003118029_Large-2-300x200

The Process Of Choosing An Attorney

The process of choosing an attorney can be quite complicated. All attorneys carry the same license no matter what their specialty. It is important to choose an attorney that has the experience necessary in your specific area needed in order for you to receive the highest level of representation possible. Would you hire a foot doctor to do an open-heart surgery? So then why do people hire divorce attorneys to handle their criminal cases? The answer is that many attorneys are simply good salesmen, or they were recommended by someone who isn’t an attorney themselves. It is not expected that you know how good an attorney truly is in whatever subject area, but in today’s day and age, you are more able than ever to properly research the attorneys you are considering in order to make the best choice possible. Attorneys come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are looking for an attorney for representation on a traffic ticket or for a murder case, it is important that you take your time, meet with multiple attorneys and see which attorney fits your needs best before you make your decision. At Grabel & Associates, we always offer a FREE consultation so you can meet with us to discuss your case before you make any big decisions.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has recently ruled that the warrant issued to draw a motorcycle driver’s blood after a fatal accident was invalid and as such, the results are now excluded from evidence. This stems from a case that originated approximately two years ago. A 41-year-old Brooklyn, MI man was riding with his 39-year-old ex-wife when he lost control of the motorcycle and crashed, killing his ex-wife. A warrant was issued to draw his blood, and the results showed his blood alcohol level to be .136, well above the legal limit of .08. He was then charged in Jackson County with one count of operating while intoxicated causing death, reckless driving causing death, and an operating while intoxicated third offense. He faced up to 15 years in prison due to these charges. Neither rider was wearing a helmet at the time. iStock_000006818663_Full-300x200

Police Relied On Defective Warrant

Most often, when police seek a warrant for a blood draw when they suspect someone of driving under the influence, they list factors that lead the officer to believe that the driver was intoxicated while they were driving. Typical factors include slurring of words, inability to walk straight, the smell of alcohol on their breath etc. In this case, the only factors the officer listed were factors like speeding and recklessness. There was no mention of anything related specifically to alcohol or intoxication. Police records show that the officer failed to mention witness accounts that the driver smelled like alcohol and that a homeowner found a bottle of Fireball cinnamon whiskey in his yard near the scene of the crash. A magistrate can only go off of the information provided in a warrant request, and in this case, The Michigan Court of Appeals said that the information on the warrant request simply wasn’t enough to warrant a proper blood draw. The court stated in its opinion, “nothing in the affidavit described how the fatal motorcycle accident occurred or why the circumstances of the accident suggested intoxication,” further stating that, “the affidavit consisted merely of nonspecific, conclusory allegations of speeding and recklessness.”

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