Articles Posted in Legal

As Michigan’s capital city, and it’s fifth-largest city by population, Lansing is one of the state’s most notable cities. But if you’re facing criminal charges in Lansing, especially if those charges are your first exposure to our state’s criminal justice system, then the city and it’s courts can be confusing and leave you feeling overwhelmed at an already-difficult time of your life. If this sounds like you, don’t worry – the attorneys of Grabel & Associates are here to help. In this article we will discuss the functions of Lansing’s criminal courthouses and inform you as to their locations and roles within Michigan’s larger court system. We will explain in which courthouse you will need to appear based upon your specific charges. We will discuss how having an experienced Lansing criminal defense attorney at your side can improve both your overall experience as well as your chances for an acquittal, a reduction in charges, or an otherwise preferable outcome to your case. Finally, we will tell you why we at Grabel & Associates are the best choice for legal representation in your criminal case in Lansing or anywhere you may need us in the state of Michigan. iStock_000013714975_Double-2-300x217

Why is my Case being Handled in Lansing, as Opposed to Other Cities in Michigan?

Lansing is located within Ingham County, in an area of the state known as Mid-Michigan. In order for criminal charges to be filed against you in Michigan, the case against the defendant must be brought by a particular county. If you live or work in Ingham County, or if the primary facts underlying your case took place here, then your case will likely be in Ingham County. However, not all criminal cases brought in Ingham County are held in Lansing. This is because while Ingham County includes a number of cities which feature courthouses, the courthouses in Lansing are only used for those cases being tried within a particular part of Ingham County.

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In Michigan, we are a state that employs “Truth in Sentencing” which means the concept of good time credit for those incarcerated within the Michigan Department of Corrections are forced to serve the sentence that they receive. With House Bill 5666, there is a chance that prisoners may win a hope at freedom earlier in time. iStock_000000182036XSmall-300x224

The bill was authored by David LaGrand (D) and Martin Howrylak (R) in February of 2018 and would provide for the following reductions if approved:

(a) During the first and second years of his or her sentence,5 days for each month.

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.”

“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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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

In the age of cell phones and the Internet, society has taken communications to areas that were never thought to have been possible. With the advancements of technology, there have also been pitfalls in the field of criminal procedure, and one such zone of danger for the criminal defendant is the recorded conversation. mEHdjKG

At first glance, we see the Michigan Eavesdropping Law is encompassed in Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) which indicates that a defendant can face a 2-year felony and up a $2,000 fine if a recording is made without the consent of all parties. On its face, it would appear that Michigan is an “All Parties” consent statute, but there is often much ambiguity on the subject. To have more understanding on the topic, we asked criminal lawyers in our state to provide further insight into the law.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has earned a reputation for having what most feel is the most successful criminal law firm in the state of Michigan with a strong presence in the federal court system. When asked about the Michigan Eavesdropping Law, Grabel stated, “There is one critical exception to our statute that can lead to issues for the criminal defendant. If we turn to the “Sullivan v. Gray” case, we learn that if an individual is a party to the conversation they can record the communication (Sullivan v. Gray, 117 Mich. App. 476, 324 N.W.2d 58, 59 – 61 (1982). In this respect, we see that the Michigan law displays similarities to its companion federal statute.”

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A concept that is starting to garner a tremendous amount of attention in the criminal court system is the “Early Termination Hearing” which could afford a defendant on probation the opportunity to end their sentence more quickly than was initially authored by the court. When a defendant wants to obtain this relief, many steps need to be taken. To discuss the matter in greater detail, we spoke to some of the top criminal lawyers in our state to gather their insight. iStock_000006818663_Full-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, and his team has built a reputation as the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the early termination hearing, Grabel stated, “Sometimes the motion can be as simple as an oral argument, and sometimes the concept demands full writing. A lot of this depends on the county that your defendant is seeking relief from. With young defendants’, it is crucial to stress that education and work achievements are essential to a winning motion.”

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of Ann Arbor Legal PLLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan. McManus’s firm is known for their aggression in the practice of criminal law. When asked about the early termination hearing, McManus stated, “To have success the attorney truly needs to have a strong relationship with the probation department. The probation officer’s role is vital to reaching a successful remedy for the client and the Washtenaw County, and Caro views the motion is entirely different. If the attorney does not build the relationship with probation, their client will suffer.”

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” While the words of the civil rights activist bring with them a lot of power, his message can sometimes be forgotten and in courtrooms in Detroit, Michigan, the voice of Dr. King is far too often silenced. Today, we are going to explore the infamous zip code known as “The 48205” and explain how the criminal justice system has shown that Lady Justice is sometimes selectively blind. neighborhood-300x200

“The 48205” is a zip code that for many years was known as the most dangerous area in the country. Driving through the area leaves one with the vision of little teddy bears and flowers on the sides of the street to display the mourning of innocence lost and when we examine the stats, the numbers are staggering.

When we study violent crime, we look at the subject from a scale of 1 to 100. One being low crime with 100 being the highest. When a zip code has a crime rate of 65-70, it is known as a highly dangerous area. When determining the violent crime forecast, studies take 4 criminal activities into their equation: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. When we consider those crimes, it is important to note the the zip code has actually improved their criminal activity within the last 3 years but even with that improvement, the violent crime study places the area with a scaled score of 92 which is a number that is clothed in terror. While the citizens of the area live in danger, this fear is also spread to those that are trying to raise families and find success in the area. The criminal defendant coming from the 48205 zip code faces an uphill battle where guilt is presumed before innocence. To delve deeper into this study, we sat down and spoke to three criminal lawyers in the state of Michigan that weighed in on the subject.

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One of the biggest obstacles in the state of Michigan to advising a client to take a plea in a criminal case is the Presentence Investigation Report which has affectionately become known as the “PSI”. The “PSI” can be a friend or an enemy of the criminal defendant but many lawyers seem to forget to educate their clients on this crucial issue. Today, we will delve into an understanding of a “PSI” and explain why the attorney’s job is not done oncriminal-justice-attorney-300x225ce the agreement has been reached.

The “PSI” Defined

A “PSI” is a legal term referring to the investigation into the history of a person convicted of a crime before sentencing to determine if there are extenuating circumstances which should ameliorate the sentence or a history of criminal behavior to increase the harshness of the sentence. The “PSI” has been said to fulfill a number of purposes, including serving as a charging document and exhibit proving criminal conduct, and is said to be akin to a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation. While the understanding seems to be clear, the application can present a great deal of issues if an attorney does not prepare their client for what stands after an agreement has been reached. To dig deeper into the issue, we sat down for several lawyers that have excelled in client communications on the matter. Let’s review what these attorneys have had to say on the issue.

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