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Michigans Expungement Statute Permits Multiple Convictions to Be Set Aside

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Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys with an Unparalleled Track Record of Winning Expungements in District and Circuit Courts

Up to One Felony and Two Misdemeanors

In Michigan, a person may seek to set aside or expunge up to one felony or up to two misdemeanors. A petitioner that has more than one felony and/or more than two misdemeanor convictions is not eligible for an expungement. A popular misconception is that once a person is eligible, a court must grant an expungement. Defendant’s become eligible to seek expungement after 5 years following their completion of probation or release from jail, whichever came later.

In reality, judges are frequently reluctant to set aside a conviction and prosecutors often oppose the defendant’s motion. A defendant can maximize his or her chance of getting relief by hiring a knowledgeable defense attorney with a track-record of routinely winning these motions. To win a motion to set aside a conviction, the defendant must show that it is not only in his or her best interest but also in the best interest of the community.

“What can make me ineligible for an expungement?”

As stated previously, the petitioner that has more than one felony and/or more than two misdemeanor convictions is not eligible for an expungement. Unfortunately, traffic misdemeanors, like DWLS, No Operator’s License on Person, Failure to Provide Proof of Insurance, and Reckless Driving count as misdemeanors under the expungement statute. Additionally, traffic misdemeanors written under the Motor Vehicle Code can never be expunged.

If you had a prior charge that was taken under advisement and dismissed, this can cause you to be ineligible for an expungement for an entirely different offense. Deferred and dismissed charges can count as a prior conviction in Michigan under certain circumstances.

A felony for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment or an attempt to commit a felony for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment is not eligible for expungement. Similarly, most criminal sexual conduct offenses and felony domestic violence (after a DV misdemeanor) cannot be removed.

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“If I try on my own and lose, can I then hire a lawyer?”

If you lose an expungement motion, you cannot file again for a minimum of 3 years. Also, a judge who has denied an expungement request may be reluctant to change his or her mind at a later time. The bottom line is that you have to do everything possible to win and you cannot take chances. Consider what would cost you more, the cost of hiring a good lawyer or the cost to you if you lose. A good, specialized defense lawyer with a track record of winning these motions can be invaluable. Do not trust your fate to the lowest bidder.

Expungement of Assaultive Crimes

For assaultive crimes or serious misdemeanors, a victim must be notified if an expungement motion gets filed and has the right to object and appear in court for the motion. The prosecutor is required to attempt to find the victim under these circumstances and an objection from a victim can weigh heavily on a judge making an expungement decision. In these circumstances, a seasoned lawyer will know the best way to reduce the impact of an obstructive complainant and get the judge to see how it is in the best interest of the community and the defendant to grant the motion.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Lewis & Dickstein PLLC

Michigan Expungement Lawyers for Southeastern Michigan

The criminal defense lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have handled thousands of cases where we have requested that a conviction not be entered in a case or that a conviction be set aside or expunged. We have been able to develop a highly impressive and extremely persuasive method of making these requests before the various judges in Michigan and we would be happy to help anyone who would like to get a conviction off his or her record.

Although many judges attempt to focus on the facts of the original case, our lawyers can persuasively argue that Michigan law provides that a decision in an expungement case requires a balancing test between a defendant’s “circumstances and behavior” and the “public welfare.” Furthermore, the law provides that under the right circumstances, these motions should be liberally granted.

If you have a prior conviction that you hope to get removed from your criminal history, call us today at (248) 263-6800 or kindly complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will promptly contact you. At the free consultation, we can determine your eligibility, discuss with you your options, and help you understand the process involved in these cases. If you are not technically eligible, we can also talk to you about other options that may be available or possible.


We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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What Should I Do if I'm in a Car Accident

What Should I Do if I’m in a Car Accident?

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If you get into an accident, here are the top 10 things you need to do right away. If you get a ticket, if your charged with any type of criminal offense, or you are injured, you will need a great lawyer to get you the best possible results.

  1. Get Help if Someone is Hurt – Call 911. If you, someone in your car or the occupant of another vehicle is injured, there is no justification for failing to call for emergency medical help. Failing to seek medical care can result in criminal charges, increased civil damages and may unnecessarily exacerbate someone’s medical situation.
  2. Notify the Police – In Michigan, you are required to notify law enforcement before you can leave the scene if anyone is injured or there is any significant property damage. It is not sufficient just exchange names, phone numbers and insurance information with the other driver and then leave the scene. Leaving the scene of such an accident will likely result in criminal charges and a presumption that you were at fault.
  3. Get Crucial Identification Information – Get contact information from the other driver or drivers. Write down their name, address, car description and phone numbers. If they refuse to give you the information, don’t try to force them or threaten them to get the information. Do not be confrontational. A responding police officer will help you get all this information
  4. Identify Potential Witnesses – Get the names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident. If you can, do this quickly. Often, people who saw the collision will stop for a short time, but leave before the police arrive. Other motorists, passengers or pedestrians can be critical witnesses. Do not volunteer the names and addresses of the witnesses until after you see if you are being accused of causing the accident. You have no obligation to provide information against yourself. If you are not at fault and there is some doubt with the officer, the witnesses may play a critical role in your exoneration.
  5. Do Not Discuss or Admit Fault – Do not blame the other driver even if they were clearly at fault. It may just start an argument. But, if the other driver admits it was their fault, make a mental note of it. When the officer arrives, you can relay the information at that time. Even if you feel you may have been partially at fault, do not say anything or make any admissions. This does not mean that you should lie, just do not make an admission. “Fault” is often a complex determination based on the facts and complicated laws. High emotions and feelings of guilt may cloud your judgment and a little time may help you get a better feel for the events.
  6. Write a Note to Yourself Afterward – After the accident write a note to yourself (and possibly for your attorney, if you later need one). Include all the information you have gathered and can remember while it is fresh in your mind. Explain how the accident happened as best you can. Drawing a sketch or diagram of the collision will be a helpful memory aid later on. It may be months, or even years, before the insurance companies fully resolve any claims. There is a rule of evidence in Michigan called that may allow for the introduction of your memory if it is recorded immediately after the incident.
  7. Call Your Insurance Agent – All insurance policies require you to notify your insurance company. This must be done shortly after the accident. Unnecessary delay in telling your insurance company about the crash can result in a denial of your claim. If you are worried about being at fault or the possibility that you may have any type of criminal culpability, it would be a good idea to consult with an attorney before you make this call.
  8. Take Picture if You Can – If you can, and it is safe, take pictures of the vehicles before they are moved. Pictures of the damage and position of the vehicles can be very important. After you get emergency care and are home, remember to take pictures of your injuries – any cuts, bruises or bandages, and any casts or crutches. It is particularly important to take a picture of any seat belt bruise on the front of your shoulders and chest.
  9. Fight Any Ticket or Criminal Charge – If you are ticketed or charged with any type of criminal offense (felony, misdemeanor, ordinance violation or even a traffic misdemeanor), do not plead guilty or responsible without working with an experienced, Michigan criminal defense attorney. Even though you may feel you are guilty or responsible for a charge, an experienced attorney will likely be able to get the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss a charge or find another way to mitigate your damages. There is not rational reason to agree to have a charge or conviction place on your record if there is a legitimate way to avoid it by working with a passionate, zealous and tenacious criminal attorney or traffic lawyer.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Lewis & Dickstein PLLC

If you need assistance with a criminal charge or traffic ticket. or if you are injured in an accident, and you would like a free consultation with an experienced attorney in Michigan, do not hesitate to contact LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or simply fill out a Request for Assistance Form and a top criminal defense attorney will contact you. We will find a way to help you.

Beware that police, judges and prosecutors in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Livingston County and Washtenaw County are particularly tough on these cases. When other lawyers may be afraid to stand up and fight for you, we are not afraid to win!


We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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Substance Abuse Treatment Instead of Jail

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An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know how to persuade a judge to consider alternative sentencing options instead of jail or prison time. Even when it seems unavoidable, a top defense lawyer gives you or best hope of avoiding jail time.

Substance Abuse Treatment Instead of Jail

Can My Criminal Defense Attorney Get Me into a Substance Abuse Treatment Program Instead of Jail If I’m Convicted?

Each year, thousands of people in Michigan are sentenced to jail or prison for felony and misdemeanor criminal convictions. It is estimated by the Michigan Department of Corrections that approximately two thirds of all defendants have some form of substance abuse issue. Some judge’s understand that drug and alcohol addictions play a significant role in people committing crimes, and that without treatment, they will return to court for another case in the future. Other judges, either ignore this undeniable truth or just don’t care.

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If you do not have private insurance to cover drug treatment or a private in-patient stay, you will have to wait to be “placed” at a facility by court order. The vast majority of defendants do not have such insurance, and therefore it is up to your attorney to make sure you get placed into a facility by the judge.

In an effort to fix the old “revolving door” system where addictions were essentially ignored (or simply punished) and jail without treatment was the norm, virtually every court in the state now has alternatives available for people convicted of crimes to either get treatment while in jail or while they are on probation or at an in-patient facility. It is up to the lawyer to convince the judge to consider one of these alternatives instead of incarceration.

How Would My Criminal Defense Attorney Get Me into a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility?

It is important that if you face a criminal charge that in some way stems from an addiction, your attorney understands what the procedure is to get you into a residential treatment program. Although some judges and prosecutors understand the need for residential treatment, they often will not volunteer the possibility of outpatient drug treatment or a residential treatment program. Usually, your attorney must request such treatment, and if they do not, you will simply go to jail.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

An astute, top-rated criminal defense attorney will know that he or she must bring up the subject outpatient drug treatment or placement in a residential program with the prosecutor and judge before first court date. If an attorney does not put the issue on the table and give a heads up to the probation department and the judge early on, then a defendant may find himself sitting in jail after sentencing while they await a placement at a residential treatment program. It sometimes takes a number of weeks to get a placement. If you have a great criminal defense attorney, you will most likely get into a residential program immediately upon sentencing or as soon thereafter as possible. Courts in Michigan typically have their own particular procedure for placing people in drug treatment programs, and an astute attorney will find out exactly what needs to be done to save you from jail and get you the treatment you need.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Lewis & Dickstein PLLC

Top-Rated Defense Attorneys to Keep You Out of Jail and Get You the Treatment you Need

The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw and Livingston Counties and throughout Southeastern Michigan. We know exactly what to do to get you into a treatment program and maximize your chances of avoid time in jail. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free initial consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.

Get Help Now

“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

Felony First Steps and District Court Hearings

Felony – First Steps and District Court Hearings

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I. The Criminal Activity and Police Investigation

The first step in a case is the investigation by the police. They will begin collecting evidence and questioning potential witnesses. After the police have collected as much information as possible about a crime, they will analyze the evidence and determine if, in their judgment, they should present their evidentiary package to a prosecutor. It should be noted, however, that the police may arrest anyone at any time if they can articulate facts amounting to probable cause, and of course they can arrest anyone they see commit a crime.

Felony First Steps and District Court Hearings

II. The Prosecutor’s Decision

The police do not choose who to charge; the prosecutor does. If a prosecutor believes the police evidentiary package establishes probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, the prosecutor determines whether they have enough admissible evidence to charge someone. If so, the prosecutor authorizes a warrant against the defendant.

III. The “Swear To,” Authorization, and Arrest

Once the prosecutor authorizes a warrant, a police officer takes the warrant to a district court judge or magistrate and “swears to” the warrant. The officer must make a record establishing probable cause for an arrest. If satisfied, the judge then grants the warrant and then the police are entitled to make an arrest. If a case is not of great seriousness, the police may send a letter to the defendant or call him or her on the phone. If the police believe the defendant is a danger to the public, they will immediately find the defendant and arrest him or her.

IV. Booking

After an arrest is made, the police take the defendant to the police station in the city where the crime took place and “book” them. This means the defendant is photographed, finger printed and personal information is gathered about the defendant, assuming the defendant agrees to provide any information. When the defendant has been booked, if court is in session the defendant is brought before a judge. If not, the defendant is lodged in a jail until a judge is available.

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V. Arraignment

When the defendant is brought before a judge, the judge tells the defendant exactly what he or she has been charged with. The judge then asks the defendant how he or she pleads to the charge. If a defendant refuses to say anything, a “not guilty” plea will be entered. In the vast majority of cases, the defendant pleads not guilty. A not guilty plea is similar to a starting gun: it starts the legal adversarial process.

It is at this time that the judge addresses bond. Frequently, the police will be questioned by the judge so the judge can assess what kind of bond to put in place. In particularly important and serious cases, the prosecutor will be present to attempt to ensure a bond is set which will ensure the defendant stays in jail or will return to court when ordered. It is at this stage also that the defendant is asked if he or she wants a court-appointed attorney or if they will retain an attorney.

A defendant charged with a felony may plead guilty to a felony in district court (city or municipal courts). However, a circuit judge (county judge) must sentence the defendant on the conviction. District courts do not have authority to sentence a defendant for a crime that carries a potential penalty of over 1 year in jail.

 

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VI. Probable Cause Conference

A probable cause conference (PCC) is a court date where the prosecution and defense meet and discuss possible plea bargains, procedural matters, discovery, and bond issues. The PCC is required to take place 7-14 days after arraignment.

VII. Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination is a hearing whereat the prosecution must elicit testimony and produce evidence establishing that a crime was committed, and probable cause to believe the defendant committed it. The preliminary exam must take place within 5-7 days of the PCC.

The prosecution does not need to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt at preliminary exam. If the judge is satisfied that the prosecution has met its burden of proof, the case will be “bound over” to circuit court in the county where the crime took place.

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Felony and Misdemeanor Criminal Defense

If you are a suspect in a criminal investigation or if you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor, your situation is serious and you must seek to protect yourself in the best way possible. A criminal conviction will likely affect all aspects of your life for years and should be avoided if possible. The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has been successfully defending clients in Michigan for decades and we provide a free consultation and confidential case evaluation. Do not get railroaded! Call us today at (248) 263-6800 and get the protection and defense you deserve. If you complete a Request for Assistance Form, we will promptly contact you.

Get Help Now

“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

Surrendering Yourself for an Old Charge

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You realize you have an old charge pending in court… now what?

You may know that you had a charge filed against you in the past, or you may have just discovered that you were charged, perhaps years ago, and you never knew about it until now. What do you do now? What if there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest?

Sometimes, for whatever reasons they may have, people who were charged with a crime decide not to face the case, and they do not appear for court when ordered. And sometimes, people move, maybe out of state, and actually never know that a charge is pending against them. Whatever the case may be, neither a felony or a misdemeanor charge will never go away by itself, no matter how old it is.

Surrendering Yourself for an Old Charge

The problem with having an outstanding charge is that if you are ever stopped by the police for a traffic ticket, or if you apply for certain jobs, or if you apply for certain licenses, you can be arrested at any time on the spot. You may even be arrested at the point of entry or departure at an airport or border crossing. If the charge is serious enough, even if you are in another state or country, you may be extradited back to where the charge arose. The appropriate and smart way to deal with an old case is to hire an attorney and have the attorney make arrangements to turn yourself in, and deal with it. In some cases, the lawyer can get the warrant set aside and resolve a case without you having to personally appear.

Why do I need an attorney if I cooperate and turn myself in?

The fact of the matter is that if you face any criminal charge, you need an attorney. You especially need an attorney for an old outstanding case because when you get to court the judge will be deciding what your bond will be, and the fact that you were an absconder for a long time will lead the judge to believe he or she should set a high bond to make sure you stay in jail or you will show up when ordered. Even if you did not know the charge was out there, often times judges and prosecutors assume you did know about it and treat you like a person who deliberately ignored court orders. This is particularly true if you are picked up rather than turning yourself in.

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An experienced, smart attorney will know how to explain to the judge your circumstances so that a personal or low bond may be imposed. A top-rated attorney knows what is important to a judge as reasons for failure to appear, and can organize evidence that may exist to explain your failure to appear. Throwing yourself upon the mercy of the court is often a bad idea. You want to have a hand in how such mercy may be dealt out, and it should be your attorney who plays a role in how it is dealt, not you. Having a retained attorney alone will say volumes about your sincerity.

What are the steps involved in surrendering myself?

Once you have retained a reputable, top-rated attorney, the attorney will arrange everything. The attorney will first identify and contact the officer currently in charge of your case and inform the officer that you are represented and you intend to surrender. This action is critical because it will prevent you from being arrested anywhere anytime, and it will go a long way to get a recommendation from the officer of a personal or low bond, depending on the nature of the charge, of course. At very least, the officer may leave bond up to the discretion of the judge, which will greatly impress the judge. Why would the officer help in this way? Because you have made the officer’s life easier, and you have done the honorable thing by attempting to address the case. In some cases, it may be possible to post a sum of money to get a warrant set aside. If a bond gets posted in cash, it is generally returned at the end of the case.

The next step will be a court date where the prosecutor decides if he still has enough evidence to proceed in the case. With old cases, evidence sometimes gets lost and witnesses sometimes disappear or forget things. All of this will often help get the case dismissed or lead to a very favorable, amicable resolution.

A power law firm to lead you successfully through the process

The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are widely known and respected by prosecutors and judges alike as being prepared and aggressive, yet honorable and reputable: precisely who you want by your side when you surrender.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Lewis & Dickstein PLLC

The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. We also have strong relationships and are well respected by officers, prosecutors and judges throughout Michigan, This helps us get the best possible results for our clients. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.

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“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

Weapons Crimes (Carrying Concealed Weapon for example)

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Some of the most serious criminal offenses in Michigan are weapons crimes. Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW), Felonious Assault (FA), Felony Firearm, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Armed Robbery are some examples of offenses that routinely result in lifelong convictions and serious jail time. Your best defense is a seriously experienced and effective criminal defense attorney.

Weapons Crimes Defense AttorneyWhat is Defined as a Weapon?

Many things can be defined as a weapon, and it can be based on the inherent design (gun, knife, brass knuckles) or on the circumstances of their use, meaning used as a weapon against another person in combat or in furtherance of an assault or defense to an assault. In one Michigan case, a glass mug was found to be a weapon because of the way it was used. The persuasiveness of the defense attorney frequently makes the difference between a finding that an object is or is not a weapon.

Types of Weapons Crimes

  1. Carrying a Concealed Weapon: This law covers both knives and pistols. This law forbids carrying any dagger, dirk, stiletto, double-edged stabbing instrument or any other dangerous weapon concealed on your person or in your car. It also forbids carrying a pistol concealed on your person or in a car. Violating this law is a felony and carries a penalty of 5 years in prison. BB guns and pellet guns are not firearms according to the statute.
  2. Felony Firearm: If you are found to have possessed a gun during the commission of a felony, you may be charged with Felony Firearm, which carries a 2- year jail sentence for a first offense. Importantly, if convicted of this offense, the 2-year sentence starts after you finish serving the underlying felony jail term. In these cases, a BB or pellet gun, if used to commit a felony, will be treated as seriously as an actual firearm.
  3. Felon in Possession of a Firearm: If you have been convicted of a felony, you may not possess a firearm. If you are found to possess a firearm, you can be convicted of this crime. The penalty is up to 5 years in prison. It does not matter if the gun is actually operational, as long as it can be “readily converted’ to being able to fire or if it was originally designed and intended to propel a dangerous projectile. This means that even if the gun is broken and wont fire or taken apart, you can still be charged. This law also applies to possession of ammunition.
  4. Transporting a Stolen Firearm: If you are found to have transported a stolen firearm or ammunition, you may be charged with a 10-year felony.
  5. Felonious Assault: Assault is the placing someone in fear of an imminent battery. Assault is the threat. Battery is the actual physical touching. Pointing a gun at someone is clearly an assault. In many of these cases, the prosecutor charges defendants who possessed ordinary items because of how they were used during an alleged assault. This crime carries a 4-year prison term. Items that are often considered “weapons” include baseball bats, tire irons, belts, bricks or rocks, cars and any other object that can possibly cause serious bodily injury or death.
  6. Brandishing a Firearm: Brandishing means waving a gun around in a threatening manner. You do not have to point the gun at someone to be charged with this 90-day misdemeanor.
  7. Possessing a Firearm in Prohibited Places: There are some places where you cannot possess a firearm even if you have a concealed pistol license. These places include: a bank, church, court of law, theater, sports arena, day care center, hospital, and places with liquor licenses such as bars. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor and carries a 90-day penalty.
  8. Reckless Use of a Firearm: This offense occurs when someone handles or discharges a firearm in wanton disregard for the safety of others. This is often the charge prosecutors use when people fire off guns on the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve. This crime is a misdemeanor.
  9. Possession of a Firearm While Under the Influence: If you have more than .08 blood-alcohol level or are under the influence of drugs, you may not possess a gun. The reason why is obvious. This crime carries a 93-day penalty. If use of the gun under the influence causes a serious injury to someone, you may be charged with a 5-year felony.
  10. Illegal Transportation of a Firearm: In Michigan, a firearm that is transported in a vehicle, other than a pistol, mu7st be unloaded and be taken down, enclosed in a case, carried in the truck, or at least inaccessible from the interior of the car. A violation of this statute can result in a jail sentence up to 90 days.

Weapons Crimes Defense Attorneys

Federal Firearms Charges

The crimes listed above are all Michigan crimes. Of course, federal law also covers weapons of all kinds. The gun control Act of 1968 Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 44 is the federal law covering firearms. Federal crimes involving firearms almost always result in prison sentences unless the defense is particularly strong. If you are accused or charged with a federal firearms charge, hiring a top defense attorney is your best hope!

LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., The Weapons Crimes Defense Attorneys

As can be seen above, the laws regarding weapons can be confusing if a person is not familiar with them. Actions that one may assume are legal may actually be illegal. When someone is charged with a crime involving a firearm, the stakes are high and everything possible must be done by a defense attorney to help the client avoid a conviction and/or a jail sentence if possible.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Lewis & Dickstein PLLC

The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have an unparalleled track record of successfully defending clients on misdemeanor and felony firearms related charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.

Get Help Now

“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

Federal Drug Charges Defense Attorneys

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Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys who have an unparalleled track record of successful representation in the United States District Courts in Michigan. We are not afraid to win!

Federal Drug Charges Defense Attorneys

Can Any Defense Attorney Handle a Federal Drug Case?

Yes and no. Any lawyer admitted to practice before the federal bar may represent a client on a federal drug case. Simply being represented is far different than being represented well. For the best results, persons facing federal drug charges need a top-rated, effective attorney who has had extensive experience in federal court and experience dealing with federal prosecutors, judges, and court procedure. Many attorneys who handle state drug cases are not familiar with federal procedures and this can result in terrible consequences for a client.

Federal Drug Prosecutors and Judges

Federal defense is a highly specialized practice and drug charges carry heavy penalties. And unlike the state court system, there is no parole in the federal system. The Assistant United States Attorneys who routinely handle drug prosecutions in the US District Court are highly trained, aggressive, and will do everything within their power to secure a conviction and stern sentence. The judges in federal court are generally conservative and used to handing out lengthy prison terms. Is there hope? Yes! The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has been effectively and aggressively defended clients in federal felony and misdemeanor drug cases for decades and they are ready, willing and able to help you or your loved one today.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Types of Controlled Drugs

Federal law divides drugs into 5 “schedules,” depending upon the dangerousness and medical usefulness of the drugs. An attorney must be aware of the schedules and the penalty their use or manufacture or sale carries.

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs are those that the law has determined have no legitimate medical use, and which are highly dangerous and/or highly addictive. Virtually all of them are illegal to possess or use. Examples of such drugs are Heroin, Ecstasy, LSD, and Marijuana. It should be noted here that although many states have legalized the use of marijuana to some degree, federal law does not permit the use, possession, manufacture, or sale of marijuana. A medical marijuana card carries no weight in a federal court. Convictions for the sale or distribution of Schedule I controlled substances can result in long prison sentences.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs are similarly dangerous and highly addictive, but they are still in use in the medical field. Examples of such drugs are Methamphetamine, Methadone, Dilaudid, Oxycodone, Morphine, and Codeine. A prescription is required for use of these drugs, or they are administered in person by a doctor or nurse. Prescriptions may not be refilled, and a doctor must prescribe these drugs to you one prescription at a time, due to the danger they pose. Like Schedule I cases, judges and prosecutors frequently seek to impose harsh penalties for cases involving Schedule II controlled substances.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs are potentially habit-forming. Examples are Ketamine and Flunitrazepam (commonly referred to as the “date-rape” drugs), anabolic steroids, and Tylenol with Codeine. A prescription is required for use and possession of these drugs.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs are drugs commonly prescribed as part of a mental health treatment program for things such as anxiety and depression, and include drugs such as Lorazepam, Diazepam, Halcion, and Xanax. A prescription is required for possession and use of these drugs.

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs are drugs considered relatively safe and have a low potential for dependence, such as cough medicine with low does of Codeine. A prescription is required for possession and use of these drugs. Although cases involving the sale or distribution of Schedule III, IV and V substances are less serious than Schedule I and II cases, the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southeastern District of Michigan is notoriously tough on all controlled substance cases.

What Are the Penalties for the Sale or Distribution of Controlled “Scheduled” Drugs?

The penalties for drug convictions are very complex, and depend on the amounts and types of drugs involved. Suffice it to say that the penalties are harsh, even for first offenders. For instance, a first offense for possession with intent to sell or distribution of cocaine carries a penalty of 5-40 years in prison and a $2 million fine. If a death or serious injury is involved, the mandatory minimum is 20 years up to life, and a $4 million fine. The penalties rise rapidly when larger amounts are involved.

The penalties for drug offenses typically are more severe in the federal system, and as stated above, the is no parole. A state sentence is often less severe and prison terms end up being less. If you are looking for a federal drug defense attorney, you had better find a great one. Your life, for all practical purposes, depends on it. A federal defense attorney must know what the penalties are and be familiar with the federal prosecutor and judge who are on the case. It takes decades of experience for an attorney to achieve consistent and reliable results in federal court.

Federal Firearms and Drug Attorney

Federal Drug Charges Involving Firearms

The most serious drug offenses are those involving or connected to firearms. Federal firearms laws provide severe penalties for firearms use by the violent offender or drug trafficker. For example, possession of firearms by convicted felons or drug users can provide punishments of up to ten years imprisonment. If such possession occurs after one is convicted of three violent felonies or serious drug trafficking offenses, the violator must serve a minimum of fifteen years in prison.

Whenever a firearm is allegedly used or carried during the course of a violent offense or drug trafficking crime, this is called a “924 violation” and a conviction will result in mandatory prison time. The use of a shotgun or assault weapon adds 10 years and if an automatic weapon, silencer or destructive device is used, 30 years imprisonment is added to the underlying charges.

It goes without saying that the right representation in these cases can make the difference between decades or years in prison. In some cases, an experienced, respected and supremely effective lawyer can get this charges reduced or dismissed.

How Can I Tell if an Attorney is Experienced with Federal Cases?

You can start by asking an attorney about his or her experience in federal court. There is no reason to be shy in a conversation with an attorney because you need to know that the attorney is trustworthy, zealous, and effective. You can also go to www.avvo.com to research the attorney and see if and how they have been rated.

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In times of unexpected legal trouble, too many people panic, and call an attorney they happen to know, such as a divorce lawyer, probate lawyer, or business lawyer, for example. This is a huge mistake. If you face a criminal drug case, especially in federal court, you absolutely must hire a top lawyer that exclusively handles criminal cases. Many lawyers occasionally handle criminal cases and also practice in other areas of the law. These lawyers are not doing you any favors. It’s this simple: you don’t hire a heart surgeon if you need brain surgery.

LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. – Federal Drug Case Defense Attorneys

The dedicated, experienced and zealous criminal defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented numerous clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in federal court. We are well-known and well-respected by federal judges and prosecutors, and have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.

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“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

Jailed for Non-Payment of Fines or Court Costs

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The “Pay or Stay” Rule

The Pay or Stay scenario has existed for many years, likely since the very beginning of the court system. As the name implies, if you can’t pay your fines and costs or bond, you stay in jail. It has been criticized by both conservative and liberal critics alike. With regard to fines and costs, one problem is that some courts allow a defendant time to pay, and some don’t, leading to an unfair system. Furthermore, more prominent defendants or defendants with talented attorneys by their side often were given breaks and given time to pay, making the system even more unfair. With regard to bonds, defendants who can’t post the bond are held in jail, sometimes for weeks, even if they are innocent and the charges are later dismissed.

Jailed for Non-Payment of Fines or Court Costs

One example of Pay or Stay is as follows: Several years ago, a local district court judge was addressing a defendant about money he owed to the court. The Defendant claimed he didn’t have the money the judge had fined him. The defendant asked the judge, “Is it pay or stay?” The judge said, “Yes, sir.” The defendant could not come up with all of the money all at once, and the judge sent the defendant to jail.

The defendant appealed and the higher court ruled that it was unconstitutional to jail someone without ascertaining the defendant’s ability to pay. In September 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court took matters into its own hands and announced the new rule that state courts are not allowed to jail a defendant without first determining the defendant’s ability to pay.

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If it is illegal, why do judges still jail defendants who cannot pay fines and costs?

It is an unfortunate truth that judges still cling to the old idea that if a defendant cannot pay money owed to the court, that jail is the best way to motivate him or her to come up with the funds. Judges who still rely on this primitive position just do not care that people with less financial resources end up spending more time in jail than wealthier defendants. This is a violation of equal protection laws and a good lawyer will stand up to even the toughest judge to make sure a client is not unfairly incarcerated.

Fixing the Problem

There are laws that are intended to protect defendants from judges who discriminate against people based on socioeconomic status. However, even with the safeguards, you still may be in jeopardy of sitting in jail due to a particularly tough judge’s failure to follow the rules. Some judges openly disagree with the relaxed rules and simply disregard them. Your case may be remedied eventually, and you may be released, but how long you will have to sit in jail is uncertain. That’s not acceptable.

You must retain a top-rated, highly regarded criminal defense attorney right from the start of your case to ensure you don’t spend one minute in jail unnecessarily. You need a zealous advocate who will make sure a judge follows the rules. A good lawyer will advocate for lower fines and costs, reasonable terms of payment, and help you avoid a “pay or stay” situation.

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LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., Defense Attorneys Who Keep You Out of Jail

The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.

Get Help Now

“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

Should I Get a Hired Lawyer?

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What is the Difference Between a Court-Appointed Lawyer and a Hired Lawyer?

Many people have the impression that court-appointed attorneys are not effective and that they don’t care much about their clients. The fact is that there are many very good court-appointed attorneys, and how they handle a case does not reflect whether they care about the client. Most attorneys care about their reputations and want to do a good job for their clients. On the other hand, many court-appointed lawyers do not zealously or effectively protect and defend their clients. The biggest problem with getting a court-appointed lawyer is that you cannot chose your lawyer and its up to the luck of the draw who you get.

Michigan Criminal Appeal Attorney

In many cases, court-appointed attorneys may want to do a better job on their cases, but they simply don’t have the time or resources to do the best that is possible for their clients. Court-appointed attorneys make as much as 10 times less than a retained attorney; sometimes even less than that. Courts are not always willing to allow court-appointed expenses for certain defense needs such as hiring investigators, analyzing evidence, writing and arguing motions, and consulting with the clients. If expenses are allowed, they are usually very menial, which often leads to a deficient defense. In Oakland County, for example, court-appointed lawyers do not get paid for motions. This forces the lawyer to choose between providing an adequate defense and being forced to volunteer their time.

A hired lawyer, also known as a retained lawyer, is someone you personally chose and pay privately. With a retained attorney, you pick the right lawyer for you considering any budgetary limitations. A retained attorney typically has more resources and time to spend on a client’s case than a court appointed lawyer. If you privately retain an attorney, you can make sure you pick someone who is experienced, effective, has a good reputation, and has good chemistry with the client.

What if I Can’t Afford a Hired Lawyer?

The issue, of course, is can you afford a retained attorney? When some clients hear the price of a top-rated, successful retained defense attorney, a court-appointed attorney starts to sound attractive. What they lose sight of at that moment is that the decision they make as to whether to retain a top-rated defense attorney will affect the rest of their lives. Whatever the expense, it is almost always worth it. In many cases, despite their reluctance and perhaps embarrassment, people charged with a crime must ask relatives or friends for help with a retainer fee, or they may have to sell something they own. This is painful, and that is understood. But if you had no insurance and needed heart surgery, would you find the money or would you go with the lowest-priced heart surgeon you could find? There is no shame in asking for help to save your life. You do not want to trust your life, future, and livelihood to the lowest bidder.

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Do I Have to Get the Best Attorney Available or is a Lesser-Priced Hired Lawyer the Answer?

The worst possible combination in hiring an attorney is retaining a bargain-priced attorney. You usually pay far more than a court-appointed attorney, and do not get any appreciable increase in talent or effort. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Would you pay money to stay out of jail, keep your home and family, and keep your job? Everyone would. There are times to avail yourself of a sale, such as when you buy a car or furniture. Availing yourself of a “sale” price when hiring an attorney could cost you everything you hold dear. On the other hand, paying an astronomical fee to a lawyer is likely wasteful and unnecessary. A great lawyer should charge a reasonable and fair price for legal representation.

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So, What Firm Is the One You Should Hire for the BEST Possible Results?

The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Southeastern Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form for a free consultation. Give us a chance to show you how we can help.

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“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

What is Probation in Michigan?

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Everyone has heard the term “Probation.” But does everyone really know what it means?

Probation is court supervision of anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. A conviction can be by plea or after a trial. Misdemeanors can be state law misdemeanors, ordinance violations, and even traffic misdemeanors. Under probation, the sentencing judge has control over some areas of the convicted person’s life and what they can do, can’t do, and must do for a period of time. Probation is not considered to be a “right,” and a person found guilty of a crime has no choice about whether they will be under the control of either the court through the court’s probation department or, alternatively, jail or prison. For obvious reasons, people convicted of a crime hope their lawyer is influential enough to convince the judge to order a term of probation because the alternative is usually jail.

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Of course, some people find the idea of being told what to do repugnant, and virtually all lawyers have been asked by a client, “If I take the plea being offered, will I have to be on probation?” It is possible in some cases for the sentence to be fines and costs only, without probation; however, this is exceptionally rare.

There are many reasons for probation. Generally, courts use a term of probation to help a client deal with life problems, like substance abuse issues or mental health concerns, or provide some other form of rehabilitation. In other cases, probation is used as a punishment but, at the same time, as an alternative to jail. These clients fail to appreciate the fact that the court wants to ensure the client will not re-offend, and the public will be protected. Therefore, the court will prohibit alcohol and unprescribed drugs in virtually all cases, even those having nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.

What are the Typical Terms of Probation?

As stated above, in virtually all probationary sentences, no alcohol or unprescribed drugs are permitted to be used. Over 60% of all criminal cases involve alcohol or drugs in some way. Probation invariably involves mandatory abstinence. Failing drug or alcohol tests or failing to submit to them as ordered can result in a jail term and perhaps an extended probationary term.

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Probationers not only have to submit to the control of the probation department, they have to pay for it. So-called supervision costs are the costs of testing, reporting, meeting with a probation agent, and perhaps taking certain classes. Sometimes a court will allow a probation term to be “non-reporting.” Cases where this is allowed are relatively minor offenses with no obvious involvement of alcohol or drugs.

Depending on the case, terms of probation sometimes include:

  • community service,
  • fines and costs,
  • organized court work force,
  • writing essays,
  • not going into bars,
  • mental health therapy,
  • court ordered classes,
  • tether (alcohol or GPS),
  • no contact with victims,
  • no assaultive or aggressive behavior,
  • truthful reporting to probation,
  • no driving,
  • staying in the state of Michigan unless permission is granted to leave,
  • no new criminal charges,
  • complete a high school degree,
  • and obtain or maintain employment.

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How Long Does a Term of Probation Last?

The length of a probationary term varies based upon the crime, the history of the defendant, and the abilities of the defense attorney. Usually, felony probation is up to five years. It is often shorter but depends on the circumstances and if the judge can be convinced to order a shorter term. A top-rated, reputable defense attorney can sometimes influence a judge to impose a much shorter term. Sentencing allocution is an art and only the most exceptional lawyers routinely achieve exceptional outcomes for clients. Success at sentencing requires a thorough understanding of the defendant, the judge, and the prosecutor. All aspects of a court’s operations must be expertly orchestrated in harmony to shorten a standard term and reduce the obligations on the defendant. When the judge asks, “Why should I give your client a break on the length of probation?” Your attorney had better have a great answer. The best lawyers always do.

With misdemeanor convictions, the term of probation is routinely one year, although it may be as high as two years. An astute lawyer will know the arguments that can be made to potentially reduce that time to six months or even less, depending on the circumstances of the client and the case. No lawyer can guarantee any specific sentence although a top lawyer gives the client the best chance of getting lenient terms of probation.

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The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Michigan for a Probationary Sentence

The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Southeastern Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.

Get Help Now

“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.