Articles Posted in Legal

In a decision that has shocked many in the legal community across the country, The United States Supreme Court made a controversial ruling on June 26th stating that evidence found by police officers after illegal stops may be used in court if the officers conducted their searches after learning that the defendants had outstanding arrest warrants. A-Student’s-Guide-to-the-Law-of-the-Land-and-The-Supreme-Court-Pic-300x199

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority in the 5-to-3 decision stated that such searches do not violate the Fourth Amendment when the warrant is valid and unconnected to the conduct prompted by the stop. While Thomas is no stranger to controversy, this decision may have a profound effect on the state of Michigan and the criminal law landscape.

The case, Utah v. Strieff came about from government surveillance of a home in South Salt Lake based on an anonymous tip of “narcotics activity” there. Officer Douglas Fackrell stopped the defendant after he left the house based on what the state later conceded were insufficient grounds making the stop unlawful (Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373). The officer ran a check and found out that the defendant had a warrant for a minor traffic violation and during a search incident to an arrest, the officer found a baggie containing methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia.

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:

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:

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.

Recently there have been questions among both advocates and lawmakers regarding the number of people serving time in prison for crimes they allegedly committed and the opportunities available for those who are incarcerated to reform their lives and become productive members of society upon their release in the Lansing area. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

On March 1st, designated national Day of Empathy, panel discussions and workgroups were part of the agenda concerning reforming Michigan’s criminal justice and incarceration laws as advocates and lawmakers gathered in an effort for change. As the first Day of Empathy, this was the day that across the nation efforts were focused on criminal justice reform and how society must humanize and empathize with all those including family members, communities, and our society as a whole are affected by it.

An ex-convict with an event sponsor said he hoped this “catalyzing” event would work to get more people involved in criminal justice reform in Michigan. Criminal defense attorneys in the Lansing and surrounding areas are all too familiar with what happens on a daily basis in the criminal court system. Essentially, there is a huge lack of focus on rehabilitation for those found guilty of crimes, and an intense desire to simply put people behind bars for years, decades, even life. The result is not only unfair for individuals who may or may not have committed less serious offenses, but results in a severely overcrowded prison situation.

MSU students are gearing up for spring break, a time when lots of college-age students travel, party, and generally participate in fun activities. While it’s great to free your mind from your studies and “chill out” for a while, it’s also important to stay safe no matter what you have planned. Few men and women give much thought to the fact that spring break is a prime time for alcohol poisoning, sexual assault, and other crimes or injuries resulting from those activities. champagne-on-beach-1554236-200x300

One of the major factors in safety during spring break is drinking alcohol, and how much you drink. Binge drinking not only often results in alcohol poisoning or even death, it can be a factor in sexual assault, as many lose their inhibitions and common sense when under the influence. Whether you plan to drink alcohol or not, traveling is another concern.

No matter what your plans are, put safety first and foremost. We have a few tips to ensure you have a great time and avoid becoming a statistic.

In Michigan and all other states in the U.S., felony offenses are considered more serious than those classified as misdemeanors. A felony charge can be related to anything from tax fraud or distributing illegal drugs to some theft offenses or murder. The prison term for those found guilty of committing felony crimes can range from a couple of years to life in prison, depending on the case and the offender’s criminal history. In most cases someone who is convicted of a misdemeanor offense will serve one year or less behind bars. iStock_000006818663_Full-1-300x200

Being convicted of a felony crime doesn’t mean the alleged offender (the operative word here being “alleged,” as many who are incarcerated are innocent) will face 20 years or a lifetime in prison. Some serve two or three years, some 10, some much longer. However, upon being released from prison after serving their terms are those labeled “felons” still facing a life sentence in reality? Unfortunately, many are.

Imagine what it’s like to be labeled a felon when upon release from prison, you can’t find a job or a place to live because of your criminal record. For lots of folks, it’s difficult and even overwhelming trying to reenter society after being incarcerated for years or even decades. When you can’t find employment, how can you pay for the basic necessities you need to live such as food, a roof over your head, transportation, clothing, and other needs? It is truly is a life sentence, regardless of the punishment handed down by the court at the time of the conviction.

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Recently, a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law found that 39% of prisoners shouldn’t be behind bars. Considering there are 2.2 million individuals in prison today, many believe we are in crisis and that this mass incarceration is no doubt the greatest racial and moral injustice of our time. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

In ‘How Many Americans are Unnecessarily Incarcerated,’ a report released by the Brennan Center for Justice, it was determined that 576,000 inmates (39%) in prisons across the nation could be released without putting public safety at risk; this would substantially reduce prison population, not to mention removing individuals who should never have been sentenced to prison to begin with. The report is the culmination of three years of study, research, and analysis performed by a team of lawyers, statistical researchers, and criminologists regarding convictions, criminal codes, and sentences.

What would be the impact of releasing more than half a million prisoners from our nation’s prison system? According to the report, it could result in hundreds of thousands of new jobs considering the annual savings of about $20 billion dollars.

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