The United States Supreme Court sent shock waves to the criminal defense community with their decision in Carpenter V. United States on June 22, 2018. The decision ruled that access to a person’s historical cell-site records is a Fourth Amendment search because it violates the person’s “legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements.” The court also held that accessing those records requires a warrant. To understand what this decision will mean to the people of the state of Michigan, we turned to leaders in the criminal law community to get their thoughts. A-Student’s-Guide-to-the-Law-of-the-Land-and-The-Supreme-Court-Pic-300x199

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates which has earned a reputation as the top criminal defense firm in our state. Grabel was quoted as saying, “We need to understand that while this is a victory it is a narrow one. In Carpenter, we have a 5-4 decision and when you break down the specifics of the opinion, the court actually states that seven days or more of cell-phone records equate to a Fourth Amendment search. This still provides wiggle room for the government actor to potentially violate the rights of our citizens. Yes, this case was a move in the right direction but we still need further protection when utilizing a cell phone.”

Jeremy Tatum, a criminal defense attorney in Saginaw, Michigan stated, “When we look at cell-site location information (CSLI), we see a grave danger. We have always been taught that our expectation of privacy is lowered once we leave the house and we do assume the risk whenever we have a conversation on our cells. Now, there is some level of protection but not to the point where we should tell our clients to feel comfortable saying anything on their phones. There is still a hidden danger of using a statement as a party admission when you speak too freely on your cell phone.”

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.”

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.