Articles Posted in Criminal Defense Overview

One aspect of criminal defense that is often forgotten about is the value of a strong sentencing memorandum. The sentencing memo gives the attorney an opportunity to have one last chance to display to the court why their client should be given the best possible sentence and sadly, it is a tool that is frequently overlooked. iStock_000013714975_Double-2-300x217

In Michigan, the sentencing memo carries more weight than in most other states. In the criminal defense sect of our state, the memo can allow the attorney to speak from the heart and give the court something to consider aside from the facts of the case. To discuss this issue in greater detail, we spoke to leaders in the criminal defense community to gain further insight into the sentencing memo.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a law firm that has the reputation as the strongest criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about the sentencing memo, Grabel stated, “Far too often the attorney is too lazy to write the memo. To generate a strong memo, there are a number of aspects that have to be addressed such as the defendant’s mental health history and their education. Sometimes, the littlest fact about the history of the defendant could be the thing that keeps them out of incarceration and it is our job to present the client to the court in the best possible light.”

Living in the age of social media, we are seeing situations where the best way to extract revenge seems to be posting messages or going through the e-mails of others without their permission. While this may seem like a quick form of revenge for the predators of these messages, in the state of Michigan the consequences can lead to prison time. iStock_000013860209_Full-2-300x200

According to Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) 750.411s, “If a person posts a message through any medium of communication without the victim’s consent with the intent of making the individual feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested” the defendant could face a 2-year felony, a fine of $5,000 or both and these penalties can be enhanced to a 5-year felony, a fine of $10,000 or a combination thereof. To gather more insight on how these laws are applied in our state we gathered commentary from top criminal law defense attorneys’ throughout the state of Michigan.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a reputation as having the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the statute in question, Grabel stated, “We see this applied a great deal in criminal defense law when someone goes through the phone of another or distributes e-mails to the authorities. Quite often, this occurs during divorce proceedings when one spouse is charged with a crime. The other spouse will go through the phone and provide harmful information to the police and/or the prosecution. What the distributor of the information fails to realize is that they just committed a felony in the process.”

When somebody is faced with a serious criminal charge it is the obligation of defense counsel to explore all options and defenses that may be available. In the state of Michigan, the idea of an affirmative defense can often be frowned upon by the trier of fact unless there is a medical condition attached to the argument. One such condition that has flown under the radar for some time is Kleine-Levin syndrome (KLS) which is affectionately known as “Sleeping Beauty syndrome” in the field of medicine. iStock_000003118029_Large-2-300x200

When asked to describe what exactly is KLS or “Sleeping Beauty syndrome” we see an unusual circumstance that is often overlooked by the medical profession. KLS is defined as a rare sleep disorder that is characterized by persistent episodic hypersomnia and a wide array of cognitive changes that can vastly affect the mood of the individual with the disease. To discuss how this issue is addressed in the field of criminal law we spoke to several experienced lawyers that are at the top of their sector to gather their insight.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has developed a law firm that is known as the top criminal defense team throughout the state of Michigan. When asked about Sleeping Beauty syndrome, Grabel was quoted as saying, “It’s truly an outside of the box defense and far too often the condition goes undiagnosed. A patient can have recurrent episodes for more than a decade and then symptoms may not resurface for another decade. When we view this from a criminal defense perspective, we find that a loss of one’s emotions can negate the intent for specific intent crime and even serve as a defense to a strict liability offense. When you view the topic globally, we see a scenario where someone truly has no control over their actions and with that being stated, how can one be prosecuted?”

In the field of criminal defense, there are many hard-fought battles that can end in a dismissal or an advantageous plea bargain for the defendant if the attorney is at the top of their game. Regardless of the work of the attorney, some accountability falls upon the defendant themselves and this is what we often call “The Danger Zone.” The “Danger Zone” is the time period between the plea and the sentence and the behavior of the defendant during that time period can be the difference between incarceration and freedom. To discuss the issue in greater detail, we spoke to leaders in the criminal defense sector to learn more about the issue. criminal-justice-attorney-300x225

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has developed the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the “Danger Zone”, Grabel stated, “Michigan Court Rule (MCR) 6.310 (B)(3) is very clear that if the defendant commits misconduct between the plea and sentencing the deal made could fall apart. Surprisingly, and what many lawyers do not even realize is that MCR 6.310 (B)(3) can even trump a Killebrew or a Cobbs Agreement so the behavior of the defendant is crucial to their own survival in the criminal justice system.”

The court rule states, “Except as allowed by the trial court for good cause, a defendant is not entitled to withdraw a plea under subsection (2)(a) or (2)(b) if the defendant commits misconduct after the plea is accepted but before sentencing. For purposes of this rule, misconduct is defined to include, but is not limited to: absconding or failing to appear for sentencing, violating terms of conditions on bond or the terms of any sentencing or plea agreement, or otherwise failing to comply with an order of the court pending sentencing.”

In the state of Michigan, one issue that has been on the rise in the field of criminal law is the probation violation. It has been established that when a client is guilty of a crime and the attorney gets obtains a sentence of probation, a major victory has been achieved but that is not where the story ends. The probation department in each jurisdiction handles violations in a very different manner. To learn more about probation violations, we turned to various criminal law experts in the field to provide their insight on the topic. iStock_000003965027_Large-2-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has developed the top criminal law firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the probation violation (PV), Grabel stated, “The biggest flaw that you have in fighting a PV is the attorney that does not do their homework. When we look at a PV from a broad perspective, we have to look at the history of the defendant. Is this an isolated mistake or do we see a pattern of misconduct? The lawyer needs to have a relationship with the probation department and a thorough understanding of their client. The Probation Department in Lenawee is very different than the one in Jackson, Michigan. Spending the time to understand the issues facing the probation officer in each particular jurisdiction and having an opened dialogue with them can make the difference between freedom and incarceration.”

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is known as a top researcher of criminal legal issues. McManus stated, “What the lawyer needs to understand is that there are 3 phases of the criminal game. There are the prosecutor, the judge, and the probation department. Far too often the lawyer will forget about that third aspect and there are times when a lack of respect for the probation department could destroy the plea that you have so worked hard to obtain. As the attorney, we need to cooperate with the probation department and work with them in the same fashion that we do with the other aspects of the court system.”

Is it possible that wanting to learn more about your family tree and that of your ancestors could lead to the incarceration of loved ones? An April 27, 2018 article written by USA Today journalist Ashley May leads to that conclusion and has caught the attention of the criminal law community. To discuss the matter in greater detail, we have posed the question to members of the Michigan legal community to provide insight on the matter. iStock_000015311791_Full-2-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has developed a reputation as having the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the possibility that a DNA test could lead to a criminal conviction, Grabel was quoted as saying, “There are a lot of companies that offer this service. When we review the “Golden State Killer” case we see that Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested after DNA was found due to a match from a DNA website. It’s interesting because when one gets their DNA done on one of these sites there is a possibility they assume the risk of loved ones being subjected to new prosecutions.”

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has been heavily involved in criminal cases throughout the state. McManus stated, “We can view DNA sites in the same fashion as cell phone companies. With the cell phone industry, we see a situation where the company will generally attempt to not provide metadata that could be helpful to criminal prosecution. With DNA there is a strong possibility that someone could become a genetic informant and there would be no 4th Amendment protection afforded the defendant. The possibility of compromising one’s rights are present.”

The jailhouse call may be the most dangerous weapon to destroying an individual’s freedom. The call is one way that a criminal defendant can lose the protection of the attorney-client privilege and the United States Constitution. While the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct will protect conversations between the attorney and their client and the 4th Amendment provides a reasonable expectation of privacy, any protection that the defendant has will be washed away once they make a call from jail. To discuss this issue in greater detail, we gathered commentary from several of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has developed a reputation as running the top criminal defense firm within the state. Grabel spoke of how a criminal defendant can destroy their own case by not understanding the danger of the jailhouse call. Grabel was quoted as saying, “The expectation of privacy is forfeited when someone is incarcerated. A simple conversation can turn into a party admission that could destroy someone’s defense. Many prosecutors lay in wait for the jailhouse call to gain an advantage should a case go to trial. It is important that the client understands this upon retention. There are far too many lawyers that become careless in this regard.”

Matthew McManus is a Managing Member of Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan and provided insight when he said, “The lawyer needs to make a face-to-face interaction with the client to protect the 4th Amendment Rights that the client has. In law school we were taught that the client loses these rights once the jailhouse doors are shut but the face-to-face meeting still provides a strong level of protection. Making the trip to the jail and/or prison and doing a contact visit is what is required to fulfill your obligation of diligence.”

One concept that is often utilized in the state of Michigan is the “Reid Technique” which is a method that been consistently proven to provide government actors with false confessions of an innocent defendant. Today, we will discuss the topic with in-depth analysis from legal experts in the field of criminal law. iStock_000000687101_Large-2-300x200

Looking at the subject from a global perspective, the “Reid Technique” is a method of questioning suspects in an attempt to try to assess their credibility. Developed by polygraph expert John Reid, the topic has evolved into the top method of interrogation by police across the country. While the technique seems to be employed regularly, the problems associated with “Reid” have started to come to the surface in the last 10 years.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan. Grabel has developed a reputation as the top criminal defense attorney in the state of Michigan and provided insight of the mechanism. Grabel stated, “When you study the “Reid Technique, we have to understand that many police agencies, especially in the state of Michigan, claim they do not use the process but they clearly do. It’s almost as if saying you are using “Reid” brings negative connotations but what is amazing is that “Reid” in and of itself is not creating tragic consequences, the horrific outcomes of the “Reid Technique” come from the police deviating from the concept. The clearest example of this was the false confession of Brendan Dassey.”

When a defense attorney takes on a capital case, one piece of ammunition that can sway the court is the polygraph examination. While the polygraph examination is believed to not be admissible, there are misconceptions about how and when to use the test. Today, we will break apart the concept of the polygraph and explain how the exam can be the difference between incarceration or freedom.

We start with an understanding of what the polygraph is. If we were to look up the term in Black’s Law Dictionary, we learn that a polygraph is defined as: a machine designed to detect and record changes in physiological characteristics, such as a person’s pulse and breathing rates, used especially as a lie detector. In essence, the polygraph is a key to tell the prosecution if a defendant is telling the truth and while the test is not admissible as a general rule, there are major exceptions that a strong criminal defense attorney should be aware of. iStock_000021611488_Full-2-300x200

To begin, the polygraph may not be admissible at trial without a stipulation from all parties but it can be used by defense counsel to argue for a new trial and also can play a vital role at sentencing. More importantly, the polygraph can carry a great deal of leverage in the pretrial stages which can set the tone for the outcome of the case.

In the last 5 years, one crime that has become the center of controversy is that of Home Invasion. While the statute provides one aspect of the crime, the practicality of the statute has been up for debate in courtrooms across the state of Michigan. In reviewing the statute, we learn that Home Invasion in the First Degree states: 657836_forced_entry-300x224

A person who breaks and enters a dwelling with intent to commit a felony, larceny, or assault in the dwelling, a person who enters a dwelling without permission with intent to commit a felony, larceny, or assault in the dwelling, or a person who breaks and enters a dwelling or enters a dwelling without permission and, at any time while he or she is entering, present in, or exiting the dwelling, commits a felony, larceny, or assault is guilty of home invasion in the first degree if at any time while the person is entering, present in, or exiting the dwelling either of the following circumstances exists:

(a) The person is armed with a dangerous weapon.