One concept that is often overlooked by lawyers in the criminal field is the importance of a “Walker Hearing”. Brought to us in the case of People v. Walker (1), a “Walker Hearing” is used when interpreting whether or not a confession was done in a voluntary fashion. iStock_000013709005_Medium-300x210

In the state of Michigan, for a confession to be deemed valid, the defendant must have made it in a knowingly, intelligently and voluntary fashion. The element of a coerced confession is one that can be the difference between freedom and incarceration because if a defense counsel can display the confession was done in an involuntary fashion, the statement will be suppressed through the exclusionary rule.

When a defendant claims that the confession was done in an involuntary fashion the judge can hold a hearing to determine voluntariness of confession. The thing that is often misunderstood by practitioners is that the defendant may take the stand and testify for limited purpose of making of record his or her version of facts and circumstances under which confession was obtained. Even with the defendant taking the stand at the “Walker Hearing”, the defendant will still have the option not to take the stand at their trial should the confession be deemed to be admissible because of the protections afforded in both the United States and the Michigan Constitution.

One common misconception in the field of criminal law is the understanding of the statute of limitations (SOL). While many have a general idea of what the SOL is, a clear understanding of what the “clock” for a crime can be the greatest mishap that a retained lawyer can make when dealing with a client that has committed a crime in the past. Today, we are going to examine the statute of limitations in the state of Michigan as it pertains to our state’s criminal sexual conduct (CSC) statute. criminal-justice-attorney-300x225

“The general rule”

The first thing to understand as a general rule in a CSC charge is that 6 years is the baseline for a statute of limitations. In the simplest of terms, the victim has 6 years to bring a charge against the accused for the crime of rape in Michigan. However, the SOL can change dramatically depending upon the age of the alleged victim.

My client looked at me with a tear in his eyes when we won his rape case at a preliminary hearing. “Henry” was going to be a free man and we hugged each other as he was eternally grateful but the reality is that his life of freedom would still end up being one that was a living hell. My client was innocent, in fact, the individual that lied about him rolled the dice on his future just because she could and the joy of the judge saying that his case would not be bound over to Circuit Court was soon be replaced with the horrors of what his life had become. The allegation against him was false but the pain of what he had endured at the hands of a liar with a motive to destroy him would never make up for what he lost. iStock_000006818663_Full-1-300x200

After some time had passed, we kept in contact with each other. Henry was a good man but would forever be looked at in a different light. When asked about the experience, Henry somberly spoke of his ordeal: “She took everything from me. I lost my job when the prosecutor charged me. There was no physical evidence. There was no witness. There was nothing other than her word. We had been dating off and on for a couple of years and she wanted me to lend her money. She already had a history of not paying me back. This time I told her no and she told the police that I raped her. Despite the lack of evidence, I was still charged. I’m forever grateful that I am still a free man but what happened to me is something that I hope will never happen to anybody else. I can never truly get back to the place I was before the charge and the prosecutor just went on with his life like nothing happened.”

Is there anything that can be done about false allegations? How do we as a legal profession protect someone when the accusation is false and when it comes to Criminal Sexual Conduct cases (CSC), is the defendant presumed guilty before being proven innocent?

Over the past several months Grabel & Associates has added several attorneys to our criminal defense legal team. We are proud to have expanded our team, bringing outstanding lawyers with expertise in specific areas of criminal law on board and essentially offering even more legal support, guidance, and representation to our clients. Grabel

Timothy Doman joined our team this year to pursue his passion for criminal law after working as a pre-hearing attorney with the Michigan Court of Appeals. His capability in out-of-the-box thinking and experience make Mr. Doman a great asset to our law firm. As a 2013 graduate of Wayne State University Law School, Timothy focuses on many areas of criminal law including DUI (DWI) and domestic violence.

Shawn Danette Glaza obtained her law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School where she made the Dean’s list four terms in a row and received the prestigious book award in pre-trial skills class. Working in the criminal defense arena for more than eight years, Shawn’s focus in criminal law includes misdemeanor offenses, driver’s license restoration, and DUI offenses.

Everyone knows that the face of America is changing rapidly in terms of race and ethnicity. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center almost 59 million immigrants have come to the U.S. over the past 50 years, the majority of those immigrants from Asia and Latin America. As an attorney, whether in criminal or personal injury law, family or immigration law, or any other practice area having the ability to speak Spanish or even Chinese can be hugely beneficial. shutterstock_1360528-300x220

Another survey taken among 200 attorneys and commissioned by Robert Half Legal found that more than 40% of those lawyers recognize a need for more attorneys who are bilingual when hiring officers. For the most part, these lawyers felt a Spanish-speaking attorney would be a benefit to their firms.

Why is speaking a second language or having an attorney on staff who is bilingual so important? There are lots of reasons, not the least of which is the ability to communicate clearly with the client and earn his or her trust. Law firms with bilingual attorneys on staff who speak Spanish, Chinese, or other languages in addition to English have an edge in regards to:

In life, sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes, those mistakes were never warranted in the first place. One way to recapture your reputation is presented with the concept of an expungement. To understand the meaning of an expungement, we need to understand that it is a concept that has the effect of settling aside a criminal conviction that will allow a former defendant to be truthful in job applications and grasp a sense of freedom that they did not after receiving a conviction. iStock_000003965027_Large-2-300x200

While the concept of an expungement is something that is a potential dream come true, the theory of an expungement is far easier said than done. Lawyers such as Scott Grabel have developed a reputation for winning expungements on a regular basis but as Grabel and his team will be the first to tell you, the biggest thing to understand with an expungement is a careful research of the law and making the determination that not all crimes can be expunged. The law to research when looking at expungements is not an overly difficult one to understand but presents an extremely hard concept to apply (MCL 780.621).

One leader in the criminal field is Ravi Gurumurthy, whom practices in Cadillac, Michigan. Ravi has recently won several hotly contested expungement cases in a 200-mile radius. When asked about expungements, Gurumurthy said the biggest mistake that people make is not having their paperwork in place. “The forms that are needed are often get overlooked. A lot of people feel that they can do the process on their own but without a certified copy of their conviction, they stand lose their petition. In addition to this, they need two copies of certified fingerprints completed. While this sounds easy, the majority of people hire lawyers that lose the matter in the preparation. There is no question that the devil is in the details and without details, the only thing that the client will get is an attorney bill that does not equate to success.”

While the April 30 application deadline to sit for the bar exam has come and gone, if you did apply for the July 25-26 Michigan bar exam you may be a bit stressed out and anxious considering it’s just a few weeks away – completely normal feelings, by the way. What’s the best way to prepare, and are there any myths that you shouldn’t believe? shutterstock_1360528-300x220

First, a few tips before you actually dig in and begin studying for the bar exam – preparation.

Create a routine and study schedule. Where and when you study can be dictated by a lot of things depending on your career, whether you have a family or children, your work hours, etc. What’s critical is that you figure out a routine that empowers you to make the most out of your study time. Some receive a schedule with the course for bar prep, but many can’t adhere and have to create their own schedules. If you can study in a quiet place with few distractions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., great. If not, maybe 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. split shift will work. Figure out what works best for YOU in your situation, and how you can gain the most from your study time.

When one is arrested in Michigan, they are often read their Miranda rights but sometimes, prior to an arrest, an officer may not read those rights and the defendant may incrimination themselves. This article represents a checklist on the concept that is one’s Miranda rights. This is what we call a “Miranda Checklist”. iStock_000023802012_XXXLarge-2-300x200

“When Does Miranda Apply?”

Miranda Warnings apply when one is in custodial interrogation. This means two things:

Recently there have been several reports of threats made against high schools in Ingham County and surrounding areas in Michigan. According to news reports, 17-year-old Jake Johnson was charged with making threats against Williamston High School last week. school-bus-red-light-655548-m

On April 25th students at Berkley High School were dismissed after the school received a bomb threat left on a voicemail that originated from an area outside of Michigan. While officials didn’t believe the threat was credible, it was in the best interest of students and faculty to close the school for the day.

Waverly High School in Lansing was the target of a threat allegedly make to the school recently via Snapchat, a social media app. According to news reports, Eaton County Sheriff’s Office increased patrols around the school last week after threats of violence were made by a student of the school. While it was determined by law enforcement the threat was not ongoing, investigation results were to be reviewed by the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office according to Jeffrey Cook, Eaton County Undersheriff.

In 1998 the recidivism rate in Michigan was 45.7%, meaning that of those released from prison, this percentage of offenders were reincarcerated within three years. It is extremely common for those who are released to return to a life of crime or continue criminal behavior, however it seems things are turning around for the state according to recent reports which reveal the rate has dropped to 29.8%. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Why the substantial drop? In years past, most individuals imprisoned for years or even decades after being convicted of a serious crime had little hope of becoming productive members of society upon release due to a lack of skills and education. For the most part, prisoners were simply left behind bars until their time was served, released to a world of uncertainty regarding their futures. Considering how quickly things change in terms of technology, many offenders who are released are completely unfamiliar with the way the world operates today. If you were put in prison for 10 or 20 years, how would you react once released? What would you do, and how would you support yourself financially? Until someone has been there, it is impossible to imagine the fear and uncertainty offenders experience when “set free.”

Heidi Washington, Department of Corrections Director in Michigan said in reports the drop in the recidivism rate is a clear indicator that the MDOC is meeting its goal in terms of helping ensure prisoners can become law-abiding citizens and productive members of society once released by preparing them through education and job training. A number of initiatives have been launched in recent years, including last year’s opening of the Vocational Village at Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, a site that provides those incarcerated an opportunity to develop skills in carpentry, electrical trades, welding, CNC machining, plumbing, and automotive technology.