Avvo and American Immigration Lawyers Association Badges

A charge of retail fraud can have lasting consequences on a person’s life.  In some circumstances a conviction for retail fraud may result in any of the following: loss of employment; licensing issues for professionals; immigration consequences for persons that are not United States citizens; trouble with traveling to foreign countries due to visa issues; damage to reputation; etc..  When placed on probation for retail fraud, there are potential consequences for being on probation, including: incarceration; financial issues (payment of fines, court costs, restitution, crime victim’s rights fees, cost of drug/alcohol testing; cost of counseling); loss of rights/privileges; inability to travel out of state; loss of days of work due to court related issues; fear; stress; etc.

In some instances the case is defensible, and you need a great lawyer to fight for you.

In some instances the case is not defensible, and you need a great lawyer to help you make the best out of a bad situation.

In Michigan when a person is accused by a store, detained by loss prevention, or arrested by police, for retail fraud it is not uncommon for that person to receive a letter in the mail asking for civil damages.  These are referred to as Civil Demand Letters.  The letter is usually from a lawyer or law firm that often is not even from the state of Michigan (for example, for Walmart cases in Michigan involving alleged shoplifting the law offices of Michael Iran Asen, P.C. in Greenvale, New York handles these civil matters).   People who receive these letters often have many questions.

Unknown-1
Are civil demand letters in Michigan legal?  Yes.  Michigan Compiled Law 600.2953 allows the merchant to send these letters.  This law provides that a merchant who is a victim can seek the following:

  1. the full price of any unrecovered property;

images
There are 3 different ways a person can be charged with felony retail fraud:

First, an allegation of theft, or attempted theft, from a store that is open to the public with the price of the merchandise  being $1000 (one thousand dollars) or more.  This is referred to as First Degree Retail Fraud.

Second, an allegation of theft, or attempted theft, from a store that is open to the public with the a price of the merchandise being $200 (two hundred dollars) or more, if the person has a prior theft conviction.  This is also referred to as First Degree Retail Fraud.

images-300x166
The State of Michigan imposes very steep penalties for unlawfully taking a deer and/or poaching of a deer.  The law concerning the penalty is contained in Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 324.40118 and MCL 324.40119, and includes the following:

  1. A misdemeanor criminal conviction;
  2. Imprisonment for not less than 5 days or more than 90 days (see MCL 324.40118(3)).  For persons with 2 convictions for this offense within 5 years, the imprisonment becomes a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail and a maximum of 180 days (see MCL 324.40118(17));

A gun conviction can carry extremely severe immigration consequences for persons that are not United States citizens.  INA section 237(a)(2)(C) makes convictions under federal, state, and local laws for firearms offenses deportable.  The list of offenses that fall under this provision is very broad.  Even very minor firearm convictions, such as negligent discharge of a gun, brandishing a pistol, unlawful transport of a firearm, etc., can all potentially lead to deportation.  Many firearms offenses (not all) are considered to be aggravated felonies that can lead to deportability, inadmissibility, and denial of adjustment of status.  One such offense that is noteworthy is the possession of a firearm by an illegal alien or an alien in non-immigration status (see 18 USC section 922(g)(5).  Also, if a sentence of 1 year or more is imposed on a crime of violence conviction, it is also considered to be an aggravated felony (see INA section 101(a)(43)(F).

images-2
Is it ever legal  for aliens to possess firearms?  In some limited cases, yes.  An alien who has been lawfully admitted to the United States under a non-immigration visa who is admitted to the United States for for lawful hunting or sporting purposes, or is in possession of a hunting license or permit lawfully issued in the United States may possess lawful firearms under 18 USC section 922(y)(2)(A).  Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) can also possess firearms as long as they follow the applicable state, federal, and local laws to do so.  Even an alien or green card holder that lawfully possesses or uses a firearm may run into trouble with their immigration status for firearms related violations.  It is advisable that an alien or green card holder who wants to possess or use firearms consult with a lawyer, and receive proper training, so he or she specifically understand what the law requires.  Again, even a relatively minor gun violation can result in catastrophic immigration consequences.

Unknown-300x136
Deportability for a firearms offense will trigger mandatory detention.  This means that a non citizen who is in immigration proceedings for a firearm related conviction will be held in immigration custody while removal proceedings are pending (see INA section 236(c)(1)(B).  An immigration judge will be without jurisdiction to set a bond when mandatory detention applies.

Unknown
In Michigan the of driving while license suspended, revoked, or denied (DWLS) is a misdemeanor that carries for a first offense a maximum jail sentence of 93 days and a fine of not more than $500.  A conviction for this offense will result in a suspension of driving privileges.  It is not common for a person who is charged with DWLS to claim that they did not know that there license was suspended at the time.  This situation is completely possible.  Reasons for this may be the person believed that a family member paid or handled the ticket for them, they were not told that they had to pay a clearance fee on the ticket to reinstate driving privileges when they paid a ticket, somebody else used their name or identification while driving, they never received a notice from the Court or Michigan Secretary of State that the license was suspended.

It does not seem fair that a person could have a misdemeanor offense permanently affixed to their criminal and driving record when there was no intent to break the law.  A conviction for DWLS is permanently affixed to a criminal record, because DWLS (pursuant to MCL 257.904) is written under the Michigan Vehicle Code, and offenses under the Michigan Vehicle Code are not subject to expungement.  It is rather sad because this isn’t really even a case of ignorance of the law (which is never a defense), but more of the ignorance of an important fact that lead to a criminal charge.  Had the person known of this important fact, in many cases the individual would have either not driven or took the steps necessary to have the driver’s license status corrected or restored so the offense would never have occurred.

images
What does Michigan law say as it relates to intent?  According to Michigan Criminal Jury Instruction 15.20 the prosecution has 4 elements that it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to occur for the offense of driving while license suspended or revoked:

In most auto accident lawsuits on behalf of the person who was injured or killed, a lawyer will charge a contingency fee.  The lawyer’s fee is typically a standard one third  (33.3%) of the amount recovered, minus  costs and expenses.  Costs and expenses can include the following: filing fees; medical records; expert witness fees; private investigators; deposition fees; trial exhibits; mediation fees; etc.  These costs and expenses may be high, further reducing your potential recovery.  There also may be medical and other liens on the potential recovery that take even more money out of your pocket.  Auto accidents involving serious injuries can be life changing, and every penny that you can save is critical.

What can be done to increase the amount of  your potential recovery?

What if you could hire a great auto accident lawyer, who would take less than the standard one third referral fee?  A lawyer to attempt to broker a lower fee for you at the beginning of the case is the answer.

In Michigan, pursuant to MCL 712A.2(a)(1) the family court has jurisdiction for criminal prosecutions of minors under the age of 17; persons 17 years and older are considered to be adults for criminal law purposes.

criminal-300x200
However, there are certain serious offenses juvenile offenses that allow for the automatic jurisdiction of the adult court if committed by a juvenile who is 14 years or older and less than 17 years old pursuant to MCL 600.606.  These offenses are: Arson of dwelling/building (MCL 750.72); Assault with Intent to commit Murder (MCL 750.83); Assault with intent to Maim (MCL 750.86); Assault with intent to Rob (MCL 750.89); Attempted Murder (MCL 750.91); First Degree Murder (MCL 750.316); Second Degree Murder (MCL 750.317); Kidnapping (MCL 750.349); First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (MCL 750.520b); Armed Robbery (MCL 750.529); Carjacking (MCL 750.529a); and Bank Robbery (MCL 750.531).  Also, the juvenile is treated as an adult for Assault GBH (MCL 750.84) and Home Invasion (MCL 750.110a) if the juvenile was armed with a dangerous weapon at the time of the offense.  Escape from a juvenile facility under MCL 750.186a can be the basis of automatic waiver, depending on the juvenile’s classification level.   Certain drug manufacture/delivery offenses (MCL 333.7401(2)(a))(1) and Possession of larger quantities of controlled substances (MCL 333.7403(2)(a)(1)) will result in jurisdiction with the adult justice system.  The procedure when a juvenile is charged as an adult for one of these serious offenses is called an automatic waiver.

For other offenses in which the alleged crime occurred when the accused was under the age of 17, but at the time of prosecution is over the age of 17 years, there is a process for that.  The family court conducts a waiver hearing.  See MCL 712A.3(1); MCL 712A.4(1), MCR 3.950(A) – (C).

There are times when a person may have an advantage hiring a local criminal lawyer, and other times when an outside is probably needed.

Criminal-Trial-300x200
When should I hire a local criminal defense lawyer:

  1.  When cost is an issue, a local lawyer may charge a lesser rate because there is not as great of a distance for the lawyer to travel.  Hence, the time and expense of commuting to court can be factored into the fee the lawyer charges;

Unknown-300x129
In Michigan when an individual is charged with probation violation the Court can either issue a summons directing the probationer to appear before the Court or issue an arrest warrant.  The Court has an obligation under Michigan Court Rule 6.445 to make sure that the probationer receives written notice of the alleged violation.

When the probationer appears before the Court, the Judge must advise the probationer that he or she has a right to a contested hearing.  The probationer has a right to retain counsel to defend him or her at the contested hearing, and may petition the Court for a public defender if the probationer is financially unable to afford a lawyer.

The probationer has the option to admit to the probation violation instead of having a contested hearing.  If the probationer pleads guilty, he or she gives up the following rights: