No parent wants to learn their child has been accused of shoplifting, however it isn’t uncommon for minors (those younger than 17) to commit this crime. It can be very enticing to a young girl to stick a tube of lipstick in her pocket or purse; a young man just can’t resist a “five finger discount” that seems easy enough to get away with. As a parent you may experience disappointment, disbelief, even anger. While no parent should condone stealing, you don’t want your child to wind up in jail or with a criminal record. What should you expect? clothing-1336617-m

Depending on the item a teen is attempting to shoplift and other circumstances, many stores decide not to call the police and simply confiscate the item(s). However, if the manager or someone in an authority position does decide to call law enforcement in, the age of your child is the biggest factor in how the case will be handled.

In the state of Michigan someone who is 17 or older is charged as an adult; those younger than 17 will be treated as a juvenile offender. Shoplifting is retail fraud, and may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the person’s criminal history, the value of the stolen goods or the merchandise a person attempted to steal, and other factors.

In the state of Michigan, when a minor is caught drinking and driving, the laws evolve into a more severe form of punishment.  Intwo glasses of champaign our state, unlike many others, those that decide to drink and drive under the age of 21, can face severe penalties even if they are sober at the time of the event.

Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates is a foremost leader in the field of OUIL litigation in the state of Michigan.  Grabel reflected on a case he handled last year and spoke of how the laws for minors can have major consequences.  Grabel stated, “A client of ours threw a surprise party for his daughter’s high school graduation.  The daughter had two glasses of Champagne at her party, then drove to her house and was stopped for making an illegal turn.  The officer asked her if she had been drinking and nervously she said that she had.  She took a breathalyzer and blew a .022.  While the law in Michigan is clear that one is not legally intoxicated until they reach a .08, for minors the scale is lowered to a .02.  The young girl almost lost her scholarship and her life had been altered.  We proved that the breathalyzer had an issue with its calibration and had the case dismissed, but it is amazing how two glasses of Champagne could have destroyed this young woman’s life.” Continue reading

In Michigan, the drunk driving laws may seem like an insurmountable fight for litigators in the field.  As one famed litigator once OUIL and blood tests in Michigansaid, “Getting an OUIL in the state of Michigan is the equivalent of going to a doctor with stage 4 cancer, there is not much that can be done.”  While this famed litigator and law school professor is entitled to his opinion (and requested anonymity in our research), there are many others in our state that support his comments. Even though accepted by a vast majority in our industry, these comments are not valid. One such attorney who has been at the forefront of drunk driving litigation is Scott Grabel.

Mr. Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and his firm has evolved into a top law firm across the state of Michigan.  One of the ways he has obtained his notoriety is with his knowledge of drunk driving laws and his success in winning and mitigating what seemed like impossible cases.  When asked about this topic, Mr. Grabel stated, “The first thing that people do not realize is that there are only two primary ways to measure one’s blood alcohol content.  The first is the breath test, in which there are often calibration issues.  The second is a blood test.  In this utilization of blood is where we have found the greatest amount of success.” Continue reading

Make no mistake about it, the laws across the United States have become progressively more car keys with alcohol severe for those that have been charged with drinking and driving.  In the state of Michigan, the need for creative and diligent counsel has become more than a luxury, it has evolved into a necessity.  Depending upon the facts and jurisdiction that the defendant is being charged with, a jail sentence can become a reality for even those convicted on a first offense. One thing people do not realize is that Michigan, unlike many other states, does not allow for a drunk driving conviction to disappear with an expungement. Continue reading

If things keep going as they have been, it could soon be legal to use marijuana in the state of Michigan. While marijuana has been legal in the state for medical purposes since 2008, many across the state are in support of adding the legalization of marijuana to the ballot in 2018. In fact, recently it was announced that more than 100,000 signatures had been collected by The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, well ahead of the 250,000 signatures necessary to get the issue on the ballot within a six-month time frame. Medical-Marijuana-MI-Voters-Say-Yes-MDCH-Says-Not-Yet-Pic-300x225

According to news reports, the most recent campaign filing with the Secretary of State by the coalition has raised more than $818,000 combined through direct and indirect contributions, putting the group’s fundraising and signature efforts ahead of schedule.

Cannabis is becoming legal for recreational use in more and more states, although understandably there are those opposed to its legalization. If approved in Michigan, limited quantities of marijuana would be legal for those 21 years of age and older, with taxes going to support K-12 public schools, local governments, and roads.

A Michigan Supreme Court Decision rendered on July 17, 2017 could potentially change the face of the rules of evidence both on the federal and state level. The Denson decision is a landmark case and the victory led by Scott Grabel and Associates was not just a success story for him but could also blaze a trail for criminal defense attorneys in the foreseeable future (Michigan Supreme Court, Docket No. 152916, “People v. Denson”). Grabel04a-2-300x146

The facts create a complex fact pattern as the defendant in the case was convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder after a jury trial in the Genesee Circuit Court (MCL 750.84). One of the keys to the prosecution’s argument was the Michigan Rules of Evidence (MRE) 404 B (MRE 404 B [MIMIC]). MRE 404B, which is famously referred to as “MIMIC” is a tool that the prosecution has often used to bring in evidence that would normally be deemed unfairly prejudicial. In this case, the prosecution attempted to utilize 404 B to admit evidence of “other-acts” to incorporate a 2002 conviction of assault. After hearing arguments form the prosecution and the defense, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the case will be reversed and remanded for a new trial.

The Litigation

December 15 is a crucial day for the state of Michigan because on that day, the process for medical marijuana licensure will begin. The licenses that will be granted are going to change the face of economics in the state of Michigan but with the new prospect for economic growth comes potential pitfalls that some people are overlooking. The reality is with a conservative Medical Marijuana Board in place, the applicants are going to have to come from different walks of life and getting licensure will not be an easy task. To delve deeper into the issue, we examined how licensure will affect the cannabis community and what we found out was that there is a lot of misinformation that is being spread. Let’s break down some of the issues that we as litigators will have to face for our clients: Medical-Marijuana-MI-Voters-Say-Yes-MDCH-Says-Not-Yet-Pic-300x225

I. Can out of state financing come in?

The state of Michigan is expecting a huge influx of revenues for the new entity but there are issues that need to be addressed. Ravi Gurumurthy, a successful attorney from Cadillac, Michigan, was asked about the issue. Gurumurthy stated, “What people do not understand is that cannabis is still illegal on the federal level. More importantly, if someone thinks that they are just going to be able to obtain out-of-state financing, they need to think again. There are Commerce Clause implications that could literally destroy Operating Agreements and projections could be nothing more than useless words on a page. The whole goal here is to generate income for the legislature and the citizens of Michigan; the non-domiciled individual will not be able to just come in and make a strong investment and just walk away. Our state and the United States Constitution alike will be tested and while there are many positives on the horizon, obtaining those benefits will be present many cases of first impression for our judiciary.”

It isn’t uncommon for someone to be accused of assault, which in Michigan is defined as an attempt to inflict physical harm upon another individual whether actually using an object such as a baseball bat, lamp, or even a hand to strike that person, or intentionally threatening an unlawful act whether you brandish a weapon or do something as seemingly simple as raising a fist. Your first thought, regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty, is to claim you were acting in self-defense – and perhaps you were. But what is the difference between assault and defending yourself? knife-2-1142077-m-300x236

When you were attempting to protect yourself from harm in the event someone else either used force or violence against you, or used offensive words to threaten you that caused you to feel physical harm was imminent (or in other words, about to occur), it is self-defense.

How does assault differ? Essentially, assault means you had the intent to behave in a manner that intimidated or struck fear in another individual, or intentionally attempted to cause physical injury to that person through threatening behavior. Assault, in some cases, may involve offensive or harmful touching of another individual when the touching is non-consensual, or the person touched does not give permission; this may also be considered attempted battery.

Michigan criminal defense attorneys know all too well that many defendants, regardless of their innocence or guilt, accept plea bargains (plea deal, agreement) offered by prosecutors. Why would anyone who is innocent ever agree to such a deal? Why not plead not guilty and go forward to trial? This is a question many people who have not been put in this position ponder, but unfortunately it’s a terrible truth. The fact is, our criminal justice (or injustice, as you may want to view it) is so unstable that those who are completely innocent could be found guilty at trial. If you were in this position, would you rather accept a plea deal that results in two years in prison, or go to trial knowing you could possibly face 10, 20 or even more years behind bars if for some inconceivable reason you were found guilty? Exactly. iStock_000000341623_Large-2-300x200

Defendants in any criminal case are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, however often this is not the case. Jurors often form their own opinions based on emotions or feelings, rather than indisputable evidence. The fact is, among convicted felons between two and eight percent are innocent individuals who accepted plea agreements. It’s easy to assume many criminal cases go to trial, however the hard truth is that 94% of state convictions occur because the defendant accepted a plea deal, or in other words pleaded guilty to a lesser crime. Sure, some are guilty – but considering up to eight out of 100 who are convicted because they accepted plea deals, it’s easy to see there are many innocent folks serving time behind bars – not to mention the ruin of their careers, reputations, even relationships.

Why do those who are innocent ever agree to plead guilty? It’s simple, really. Most fear the worst possible outcome at trial. In other cases, going forward toward trial often means months or even years in jail awaiting trial, considering the delays and postponements. For most people, taking weeks or months off from work just isn’t feasible financially, and even when a case does eventually go to trial it could possible end in a hung jury, which in many cases means yet another trial. Think of those who have families, young children or teens, responsibility; waiting for an interminable length of time to go to trial and even then not knowing what the outcome could be is simply unimaginable.

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.

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