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.”

In an outcome that shocked many across the country, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision to strike down the “Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act” which was enacted in 1992. News of the decision was followed by a report with the National Football League (NFL) stating that the United States Legislature wants to enact legislation on legalized sports betting. The state of Michigan has the potential to be impacted greatly by this decision. For further insight on the issue, we turned to experts in the legal community to discuss the issue. iStock_000006818663_Full-1-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has earned a reputation for having the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. Grabel provided his thoughts when he said, “There has always been an element of sports gambling going on throughout the United States. When we look at events such as the NFL and “March Madness” coupled with the Fantasy Sports craze going on in our country, people will find a way to bet on sports. The “Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act” has led to a lot of criminal prosecutions as was seen in “Operation Slapshot” and other criminal enterprises. This decision is a victory for the individual that wants to bet on sports and not have to worry about obtaining a felony in the process.”

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan. McManus added, “Sports gambling is an issue that has reached the congressional floor many times. With the Supreme Court decision, we see that the states will have the power to regulate sports betting. This provides a tremendous amount of opportunity for the state of Michigan if they choose to take advantage of it.”

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.”

If you practice law for a long enough period of time, you will see things that will bother you. You will see the innocent get convicted. You will see the guilty walk free. You will see things that will make you sick to your stomach and things that will bring a tear to your eye but in all of those experiences, you will never see an injustice greater than what happened to Brendan Dassey. Dassey is an innocent young man that had his life ripped apart because of a false confession and if something is not done to right this wrong, he will be incarcerated until 2048 or later.


Brendan Dassey (Tracy Symonds-Keogh / Wikimedia Commons)

The case of Brendan Dassey gained national fame when the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” was released in 2015. The series examined the 2005–2007 investigation, prosecution and trials of Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, who were both convicted of murdering photographer Teresa Halbach on October 31, 2005.

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.

The Department of Justice Tax Division’s Acting Deputy Assistant AG Stuart M. Goldberg recently announced that three individuals, two of them managers of a Michigan healthcare management company and one an executive assistant, have been indicted by a Flint federal grand jury in an alleged employment tax scheme. iStock_000003633021_Large-2-300x201

The managers, Joseph DeSanto and Edward Cespedes, are charged with failing to pay over payroll taxes to the IRS. Gerri Avery, executive assistant responsible for payment expenses, is charged with attempting to obstruct IRS laws.

The healthcare management services company is located in Southfield and operates under the name Integrated HCS Practice Management. According to the indictment, during the period from October 2013 to February 2014 DeSanto and Cespedes failed to pay the full taxes deducted from employee’s paychecks over to the Internal Revenue Service. The misappropriated money was allegedly used by the two men for personal expenses and company operating expenses.

Recently it was announced by the Department of Justice Tax Division’s Acting Deputy Assistant AG Stuart M. Goldberg that Sarah Vidican, owner of Magnalty LLC had been charged with failing to file tax returns and filing a false tax return. Vidican’s marketing and consulting firm (Magnalty) allegedly provides services to chiropractors and physicians in both Michigan and Florida. iStock_000001299669_Large-2-300x199

According to the indictment returned by a Flint federal grand jury, Vidican underreported the income for Magnalty when she filed a fraudulent 2012 partnership tax return. Vidican also did not file a partnership tax return for Magnalty for the year 2014, and failed to file a personal tax return for 2013 according to the indictment.

The investigation of Vidican and the business was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation special agents. The case will be prosecuted by Tax Division Trial Attorneys William Guappone and Mark McDonald.

For those that practice criminal law, our profession has taken a new turn. Allegations from decades ago are showing up at the courthouse steps as the media is encouraging people to bring claims that would be deemed stale under normal circumstances. With that being said, the lack of physical evidence or eye witness testimony seems to be an issue that is being overlooked in recent prosecutions. One way to fight the issue of a frivolous prosecution is “The Stanaway Motion.” 24259101_s-300x199

While most lawyers in the field are not even familiar with this seldom used motion, the presence of the Stanaway case has provided a lot of power to the aggressive criminal defense attorney (People v. Stanaway, 446 Mich. 643 [1994]). The Stanaway case presents the question of whether, and under what circumstances, records of a psychologist, a sexual assault counselor, a social worker, or a juvenile diversion officer regarding a witness should be discoverable by the accused in a criminal trial. This means medical records of one that was a minor at the time of the allegation can potentially come into admissibility with a successful Stanaway motion. This presents an issue that can sway a judge and/or jury upon reviewing the psychological makeup of the complaining witness.

Scott Grabel is the Founder of Grabel and Associates and is the leader in criminal defense within the state of Michigan. Grabel has won many cases with strong “Stanaway Motions” and uses them whenever the issue is relevant. When asked about the Stanaway motion, Grabel stated, “The attorney has to walk a fine line when crafting the motion. In essence, the court is faced with a major dilemma: Do they breach the privilege of the alleged victim to protect the constitutional rights of the defendant? There will either be a privilege that is pierced or a constitutional right that is violated. We have to remember that the material within those documents could provide a solid defense and can also prevent against frivolous claims. When someone has their freedom at risk, the attorney has an obligation to use all of their resources in an ethical manner. This motion allows the attorney to complete that task.”

When people talk about the arraignment, there is a misconception that a defendant does not need an attorney to be at this stage of the proceedings. While the arraignment is our first introduction to the reaching the court house steps, the absence of an attorney can lead down the road of disaster. Today, we are going to discuss the topic of the arraignment and then provide commentary from three lawyers that also have served as educators in our profession to develop a greater understanding of the issue. 68916_law_education_series_2-300x225

When we look up the topic of the arraignment in Black’s Law Dictionary, we find that the issue is defined as a formal reading of a criminal charging document in the presence of the defendant to inform the defendant of the charges against him or her. In response to arraignment, the accused is expected to enter a plea. In the law school classroom, the topic is not generally discussed in detail and until you take a Barbri course or listen to a Hugh Reed lecture while studying for the bar exam, there is not much said on the topic other than it is one of the 8 testable issues where the right to an attorney attaches. Reality differs greatly from the Michigan Bar Exam and while the Michigan Board of Bar Examiners will test on it, the courtroom will test the issue in far greater detail. Due to the misconception that the arraignment is not a pivotal topic, we decided to get insight from leaders in the criminal defense field.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has developed a reputation for having the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. In addition to being a leader in the field, Grabel has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School. Grabel stated, “The arraignment is the first step but it truly sets the tone for what is forthcoming. Quite often, we will visit a client in jail before even being retained because we want to let the court and the prosecutor know that we are here to protect our client’s constitutional rights. When the day of the arraignment comes, we have our notice of appearance and demand for discovery in and we are ready to argue for bond. If you’re not ready, the client will suffer.”