Articles Posted in Courts

On occasion, a person will be dissatisfied with the lawyer that represents them in criminal law proceedings.  The reasons someone wants to obtain a new lawyer are various.  Reasons to want to obtain a new lawyer include the following: my lawyer does not communicate with me (the lawyer does not return phone calls, emails, and/or text messages); my lawyer does not adequately address my questions; my lawyer will not provide me with discovery materials; my lawyer will not file motions that I think are appropriate; my lawyer does not fight on my behalf; my lawyer is not on my side; there has been a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship; the lawyer has a conflict of interest; etc., etc..

One of the main disadvantages of having a public defender is that the representation you receive is the luck (or un-luck) of the draw.  Generally, the Defendant has no choice in terms of the public defender assigned to the case.  The lawyer may or may not provide great representation.  The lawyer may or may not care about the result you obtain.  The lawyer may or may not try and get you to plead guilty, rather than go to trial, because a trial requires a lot more work.

When a Defendant wants a new lawyer, there are a couple ways to go about the issue.  The best way is to hire a lawyer that gives you the confidence that the case is being handled in a thorough, experienced, professional manner.  If you have the ability to hire a lawyer, take the time to figure out if you and your prospective lawyer are compatible.  Does the lawyer have the experience needed to handle the particular type of case that you have?  What is the reputation of the lawyer?  Does the lawyer seem to know his or her stuff?  Will the lawyer handle the case, or will it be assigned to an associate lawyer?

One of the more difficult defenses to establish in Michigan is the insanity defense.   To prove legal insanity the Defense must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (show that it is more probable than not true) that the Defendant was, at the time of the alleged offense, legally mentally ill and either lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her conduct or unable to conform his or her behavior to the law (legal insanity 2 prong test).

Even though a preponderance of the evidence is not a high burden, juries do not like this defense.  Many people feel that each of us are responsible for our own actions, and there is a fear that the Defendant will not be held responsible or accountable for his or her actions.  One of the instructions of the court for a jury instruction is that lawyers and the Court cannot tell the jury what the possible penalty is for a crime, and a jury might have a mistaken assumption that if a verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” (also referred to as NGRI) is reached the Defendant will face no penalty because he or she was acquitted.  There is a fear by juries that the Defendant might pose a danger to the community (especially for a violent crime) and could harm another person without a finding of guilt.

Unfortunately a jury is not told that if a Defendant is found to be “not guilty by reason of insanity”, the Defendant is committed to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry for an initial period of 60 days during which time the Defendant is examined and evaluated regarding his or her mental health condition.  The Center for Forensic Psychiatry has the option to find that no further treatment is needed, which is not a common result.  The more likely result is that a psychiatrist and another medical doctor will determine that further treatment is necessary, and a petition is filed with a probate court to order further in patient treatment.

It is not uncommon for a minor to commit retail fraud (or shoplifting).  The reasons for this include: peer pressure; greed; the feeling of invincibility; psychological reasons; etc.; etc.   It is always upsetting for a parent to learn that their child got into trouble, and the range of emotions that a parent may feel may run from concern to anger to disappointment.

What to expect for you and your child when your child is facing a shoplifting allegation?

If your child was lucky, the store made a decision to not involve law enforcement.  If law enforcement was contacted, how the case is handled depends upon the age of your child.

Carrying a concealed weapon in Michigan is a felony offense that carries up to 5 years in prison, up to $2500 in fines, possible probation/parole with conditions, and forfeiture of the weapon.  A conviction for the same can affect your ability to lawfully purchase and/or possess firearms.  This crime can also be prosecuted as a federal law violation depending on the circumstances.

In many accusations concerning carrying a concealed weapon the accusation begins with a traffic stop.  The car is stopped for some sort of traffic violation such as speeding, defective equipment, a bad license plate, etc..  The police officer approaches and asks the driver for his or her name, registration and proof of insurance.  During the stop a search of the vehicle occurs due to the driver’s consent, the officer seeing in plain view some sort of contraband, smelling the odor of marijuana, a search incident to an arrest (driving on a suspended license, an active warrant, open intoxicants in the motor vehicle, etc.) etc..  During the course of the search a weapon is discovered.

What happens next?

Twelve Oaks Mall is a popular shopping destination due to its collection of great stores. Nordstrom, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, the Apple Store, and Lululemon Athletica,  and Victoria’s Secret are a few of it’s most sought after destinations.  One of the issues that Twelve Oaks and its merchants deal with on a daily basis is shoplifting (also called retail fraud or retail theft) and employee theft (also called embezzlement).

Twelve Oaks Mall has mall security, close circuit court, and a working relationship with Novi Police to protect its tenants.  The prosecution of shoplifters and people who embezzle money and merchandise is intended to serve as a deterrent for repeated thefts and the public at large.

How are people caught committing theft offenses?

Michigan has a regulatory scheme concerning firearms that places great limitations on how local governments are able to enforce alleged firearms violations.  Michigan Compiled Law 123.1102 states that “[a] local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols, other firearms, or pneumatic guns, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state”.  This means that local governments are not allowed to enact laws concerning firearms and pneumatic guns (bb guns or pellet guns), unless they are specifically allowed to under federal and/or state Law.  The legal term for this practice is “preemption”.  The doctrine of preemption is also supported by Michigan Court interpretation of the law (See Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners v. City of Ferndale, 256 Mich App 401 (2003)).

There are a few exceptions to preemption under state law that are contained in Michigan Compiled Law 123.1103.  The local government is allowed to prohibit or regulate conduct that is a criminal offense in Michigan under state law.  This means that local governments are allowed to adopt the language of state laws or state codes and enforce those codes.  The local governments cannot adopt their own prohibitions that differ from state law (See MCL 123.1103(b)).

The state also allows local governments from preventing local government employees from transporting, carrying, and/or possessing pistols, firearms, and/or pneumatic guns in the course of their employment.  In Michigan, local governments can also place restrictions on persons below the age of 16 from carrying pneumatic guns in public (See MCL 123.1103(c)).

Sometimes there is a need to hire a lawyer for purposes of a jail visit or a prison visit.  Reasons to hire a lawyer for a jail visit include the following:

  1.  Family and friends are concerned because they are unable to obtain information.  Someone incarcerated is often isolated, without the immediate ability to communicate with the outside world;
  2. The family and friends want to show the person who is incarcerated that they are loved and supported;

An accusation of probation violation will result in a court date with the Judge who sentenced you or the Judge who is now in charge of your original Judge’s docket.  Probation violations are often treated seriously by Judges for a number of reasons, including: protecting the integrity of the judicial system, protection of the community, deterring others from violating probation, deterring the probationer from reoffending, and the need to rehabilitate the offender.

Whether or not the probation violation will result in a jail or prison sentence depends upon a number of factors:

  1.  Did the probationer actually violate his or her probation?  The probationer has the right to a contested hearing before the Judge assigned to the case.  At that hearing the probationer is presumed innocent, and it is up to the prosecution to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (that it is more likely than not true that he or she violated his or her probation).  The probationer has the right to be represented by a lawyer.  The probationer has the right to cross examine witnesses, and subpoena witnesses.  The probationer can choose to testify or remain silence and not have the silence considered against the probationer in any way.  If the probation violation cannot be proven, the probationer has the right to continue on probation.

The Troy District Court is located at 520 W. Big Beaver Road in the City of Troy, Michigan.  This Court is also known as the 52/4th District Court.

For the assistance of a lawyer concerning all felony, misdemeanor, and traffic tickets, it is advisable to contact local attorney Daniel Hilf of the law firm Hilf & Hilf, PLC.  Hilf & Hilf, PLC is located at 1775 W. Big Beaver Road, which is approximately half a mile west of the court house, on the south (eastbound traffic) side of W. Big Beaver Road.  The telephone number for Hilf & Hilf, PLC is 248-792-2590.

52/4 Troy District Court Search Instructions

In many criminal cases the best option is to try and work out a deal and cut your losses.  The question arises as to how a deal can be reached.  Obviously, the person making the request is your lawyer.  If you don’t have a lawyer it is best to obtain the services of an experienced criminal lawyer such as attorney Daniel Hilf of Hilf & Hilf PLC.  Anything that you say can in and outside of court concerning your case can potentially be used against you.  An experienced lawyer is in the best position to negotiate on your behalf.

What steps should the lawyer take in trying to obtain a plea bargain, diversion, or sentence agreement?

First, the lawyer needs to learn everything about the case through investigation.  Before any attempt to resolve the case takes place the lawyer needs to know what the evidence is and what information the prosecution has.  The lawyer can obtain information by making a discovery demand with the prosecution or a FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request.  Discovery materials typically include the following: the names and addresses of witnesses; written or recorded statements; the curriculum vitae of an expert the prosecution may call at trial along with a report or written description of the expert’s proposed testimony; criminal records that the prosecution intends to use to impeach witnesses; a description of and an opportunity to inspect any tangible physical evidence that the prosecution may introduce at trial; any exculpatory information or evidence; any police report and interrogation records concerning the case; any written or recorded statements of the Defendant, a co-Defendant, and/or an accomplice; any affidavit for search warrant, search warrant, and return pertaining to a search and seizure in connection with the case; and any plea agreement, grant of immunity, or other agreement for testimony in connection with the case.