One tool that a defense lawyer can utilize in defending their client is past sexual history between themselves and the complaining witness. While using the account of the party claiming to be the victim and the individual defending their freedom can present a great option, many courts are reluctant to allow such evidence into admissibility. iStock_000013709005_Medium-300x210

Statutory Authority

750.520j Evidence of a victim’s sexual conduct.

While litigation in the criminal sector can be an exhausting proposition, there are times when a diligent attorney can be proactive before anyone is ever charged with a crime. This is what is called a “Case Evaluation.” iStock_000003965027_Large-2-300x200

In criminal law, a “case evaluation” allows defense counsel to do things such as psychological evaluations, sex therapy, and private polygraphs. All of these things play a role in a wide array of issues for the creative criminal defense attorney. To learn more about this concept, we sat down with several of the top criminal defense attorneys in the state of Michigan.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and is known for having the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the “case evaluation,” Grabel said, “We run many case evaluations on CSC cases. This helps obtain favorable bond results if arraignment is forthcoming and it also provides an opportunity to have the case dismissed before ever reaching the courthouse steps. Many firms do not understand how much work needs to go into the pre-charge, but when a case evaluation is done properly, it can allow for the best possible result for the client.”

One of the strictest jurisdictions to be charged with a CSC is Ingham County. With the county seat in Mason, Michigan, Ingham County has always been known for academics at Michigan State University, Lansing Community College and Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School are all located within 20 minutes of each other. While education had always been the hallmark of Ingham County, crimes of a sexual nature have risen to new heights in the last 5 years. With a new abundance of prosecutions, the role of the criminal defense attorney has taken on a whole outlook. The reality is that without competent counsel, the criminal defendant is facing a monumental task. To discuss this topic, we sat down with 3 of the top criminal defense lawyers in Ingham County to gain perspective. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan. Grabel has built a firm that has gained a reputation as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about the rise of CSC charges in Ingham County, Grabel said, “It has become a county where many judges are not allowing Cobbs or Killebrew Agreements, and when that happens the Probation Officer plays a vital role in plea deals. With negotiations becoming more difficult, we find that in Ingham County trying a case is becoming the optimal move for the criminal defendant. To protect our clients, we have built a trial team that is ready to fight our clients from the onset of the charge and have a trial prep in mind from day one.”

Peter Samouris owns and operates Samouris Law and is known as one of the top criminal litigators in the state of Michigan. Samouris’s experience in trying capital cases in Ingham and surrounding counties have earned him the respect of his peers. Samouris provided commentary when he said, “Probably the most difficult aspect of CSC cases-and this is especially true when the accuser is a child-is walking the fine line between discrediting the accuser, without coming across as a bully.”

“It’s always personal,” I screamed as the prosecutor and the probation officer stared at me. Alone in the judge’s chambers, we sat there are 7:30 am on a Saturday morning. Snow on the ground, no suit or tie, just 4 men screaming over the fate of this 18-year-old kid. Would he go to prison, would he go to jail, would he be sent home to be with his family? I pleaded that my client did not know her age. The judge yelled, “Michigan does not recognize the mistake of age Mr. Amadeo.” I told them that the sex was consensual and that the alleged victim lied about her age, the judge said, “Bill, enough with the Rape by Fraud argument, this is not Illinois!!!” I argued how he passed a state polygraph, he gave 2 private polygraphs, the girl was lying, we cannot destroy this kid’s life. criminal-justice-attorney-300x225

The judge wanted to put him in prison for 87 months, the probation officer recommended 20 years, violating the Tanner-Max, the prosecutor looked at me and asked to speak for a moment. We sat alone in this small room in a courthouse that was built was nearly 100 years old, and we argued back and forth. The prosecutor wanted to become a judge and needed to get as many people as possible on the Sex Registry, and in reality, he had all of the evidence to win at trial, and the only thing standing in is way was me. They need that if I go to war, anything can happen. Maybe, just maybe I can get the jury to nullify the law, perhaps I can attack the complaining witness and prove her inconsistencies and possibly, just maybe, I cannot. I only had one card left to play, if I could show that this kid has mental deficiency, then perhaps I could work around the probation officer, maybe I could convince the judge and maybe, I could get on the same page as the prosecutor so that he could save face by granting a dismissal despite having enough evidence to convict. I motioned for an evaluation to show that my client was not criminally responsible and was not competent to stand trial. The judge looked at me and said, Bill, if this is frivolous, your career is over.” I nodded my head, and I walked out of court, and I remembered what 2 people that I have respected had told me. Pete Winter said, “Sometimes we cannot change the facts.” Scott Grabel told me, “Some cases are about risk assessment, some cases are about guilt and innocence.” I thought about what had been taught to me, and I went to work. This was not about me, this was about a kid’s life, his future, his world. I pushed for competency tests based upon my research, and now, I had to wait for yet another party, a psychologist to tell me whether or not I was correct.

In Michigan, there are 2 types of competency tests: The first is a motion for lack of criminal responsibility. This means that the defendant did not understand what was happening and that they should not be charged because they could not form the Mens Rea to commit the crime.

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In the state of Michigan, one type of specialty court that is starting to gain traction is the “Mental Health Court” which allows people that have psychological issues to be given an alternative to incarceration. A specialty court is a unique concept but also comes with economic constraints as there will be a need for new staffing to run the program. To learn more about “Mental Health Court” programs, we spoke to several of the top criminal defense attorneys in the state of Michigan to discuss the topic. 68916_law_education_series_2-300x225

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan and he provided commentary when he said, “The concept of the Mental Health Court is one that provides a lot of relief to those in need. We learn that many times a criminal defendant has had their mental deficiencies overlooked. While the screening process is rigorous, this provides a beneficial option to those in need.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a Senior Associate at Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan and has also practiced in the state of New Jersey. Amadeo provided commentary when he said, “After experiencing specialty courts in New Jersey and Michigan, I can safely say that Michigan is way ahead of the curve on this issue. In Washtenaw County, we are lucky enough to have Judge Karen Valvo, Pat Chase and Karen Finney who have been true pioneers in helping our community with the Mental Health Court in the 15th District court. Recently, I was appointed to the Shiawassee County Mental Health Court team, and I can tell you that the process is not an easy one. The jurisdiction needed to obtain a grant and then put a qualified staff together. What I will expect from our mental health court team is for the criminal defense attorney not only to advocate but substantiate why their client deserves this option. The concept is amazing, but the implementation will take a lot of hard work, and we need to be up to the challenge.”

Why would somebody ever confess to a crime that they didn’t commit? The average person would not believe that a “false confession” is something that ever occurs, but the reality is that criminal defendants’ admit to crimes they did not commit regularly. In Michigan, the argument on the voluntariness of a confession is explained in “The Walker Hearing.” iStock_000002709890_Large-2-300x200

The “Walker Hearing” is an evidentiary hearing to determine the voluntariness of the defendant’s statement. Common allegations are the defendant coerced, drunk, intimidated or mentally incapacitated. In the state of Michigan, 3 elements must be presented for a statement to be deemed appropriate. Those statements that the statements were made: Knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily. To discuss the issues of false confessions and how the “Walker Hearing” is addressed in the Michigan criminal justice system, we have received commentary from several criminal defense attorneys that have addressed this issue on a routine basis.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a team that is known as the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the “Walker Hearing” and the issue of false confessions, Grabel stated, “There are several reasons that an innocent person makes a false statement. The obvious is police intimidation, but the discussion goes further than that alone. Sometimes a defendant is looking for fame, sometimes we are dealing with an issue of mental incapacity, and sometimes they are protecting a loved one. A false confession is not a black and white issue but instead a very vague proposition, but it is one that is often overlooked in our Circuit Courts but addressed with fairness at the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court.”

If you’re ready to request a hearing to restore your driver’s license, you probably have had some help along the way. Friends, family, and coworkers may have given you rides while you did not have a license, listened as you worked through challenges of staying sober, and believed in you on those days you weren’t sure how you would make it without a license. We will lean on them one more time as we prepare for your hearing. iStock_000013860209_Full-2-300x200

As part of your request packet, we will need to submit three to six letters of reference to the Office of Hearings and Administration Oversight. The hearing officer will read these letters to help determine whether you are safe to return to the road.

Your People

You lost your driving privileges, but you have been working hard since then to earn the right to drive again. Even though life has been more challenging without a car, you have persevered. You committed to sobriety and created the support systems that will help you stay sober. You have not succumbed to the temptation to drive without a license. You have navigated your day-to-day challenges while doing your best for a better future for yourself. It’s time to get you on the road again. 8123271_s-300x199

Restoring your driver’s license is a complex process, but you have already done the hardest part of the work. Let us make sure that hard work pays off. We have a 97% success rate in driver’s license restoration cases and are intimately familiar with each step you need to take to regain your driving privileges. You have earned and deserve the freedom that comes with a driver’s license. Here is how we will make sure you get it.

Eligibility

When picking a jury, the best way to determine if you should use a peremptory challenge or to challenge one for cause is to have a series of questions. While there are numerous options for these, we have provided content on this subject which has helped us find success in the world of criminal defense. Let’s provide said list:68916_law_education_series_2-300x225

1. Read the statement of the case: This gives a little background and pushes your opening statement a bit with a preview.

2. Have you read or heard anything about this case? This includes social media, friends, family etc.

Preparing for a trial can be one of the most tedious and frustrating aspects of criminal law. The prosecutor and defense counsel both have an agenda. The prosecutor’s goal should be the protection of the community. The criminal defense lawyer’s plan should be to preserve the constitutional rights of his or her client and obtain the best possible outcome. This is in a perfect world, but as anybody that has ever set foot in a courtroom will tell you, criminal defense is far from perfect. There are biases that come into play, probation officers with a different view on a case that a prosecutor, defense counsel or judge may have, the judge may have their own “hot spots” which means certain charges where they lose objectivity and at the end of the day, the words of a prosecutor that I have a great deal of respect for ring true: “A trial only happens because both sides failed to reach a resolution.” When this happens, the first thing that we have to prepare for is jury selection, and that leads us to the concept of Voir Dire. iStock_000025943007_XXXLarge-2-300x200

If we look up the term Voir Dire in Black’s Law Dictionary, is French “to see to speak,” the questioning of prospective jurors by a judge and attorneys in court. Voir dire is used to determine if any juror is biased and/or cannot deal with the issues fairly, or if there is cause not to allow a juror to serve (knowledge of the facts; acquaintanceship with parties, witnesses or attorneys; occupation which might lead to bias; prejudice against the death penalty; or previous experiences such as having been sued in a similar case). One of the unspoken purposes of the voir dire is for the attorneys to get a feel for the personalities and possible views of the people on the jury panel. In English, this means that as counselors we need to try to gauge an understanding of who may serve on the potential jury, what we should be looking for when making selections. The concept varies from court to court in Michigan, and jury questionnaires help make these choices.

Jury Questionnaires