Michigan Criminal Defense – Frequently Asked Questions

Facing criminal charges is scary and frightening. It is essential that you get answers from respected criminal defense attorneys. You might find some comfort in having some additional information.

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Questions for Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys

Here are several of the questions most frequently asked by people calling LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. for help from our highly experienced, respected Michigan criminal defense attorneys.

“Do I need a lawyer?”

If you have to ask this frequently asked question, the answer is “yes.” A criminal conviction can be life-changing. It can dramatically affect employability, financial stability, family, custody, reputation, licensing, etc. An experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney can determine the severity of your circumstances after they are familiar with the facts of your criminal charges.

If you’ve never been involved with the criminal justice system, being charged with a crime can be a terrifying experience. Before you can understand what’s happening, a court can force you to make critical decisions in a situation you may not fully understand. And making the wrong decision can have implications for the rest of your life. Top Michigan criminal defense attorneys can help guide you through the complexities of a criminal case, answer your questions, and help ensure that your rights are fully protected.

“What if I am innocent of the charges brought against me?”

The reality is that if you face criminal charges, you are assumed guilty by the government. The prosecutor, the public, probably the judge, and, at the outset, the jury will believe you are guilty even if you’ve done nothing wrong. We like to think that truth and justice prevail and believe in the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” but that is not always so. As seen on the news, at least weekly, people are found guilty of crimes they did not commit, and it can take decades before they are vindicated. These are genuinely innocent people convicted because a prosecutor proved them guilty to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. This tragedy happens too often and usually results from inadequate, underfunded, or inexperienced legal counsel.

Retaining an experienced and zealous criminal defense lawyer to fight for you is the best way to defend your rights. Make no mistake: The system is designed to convict people, not achieve justice or discover the truth. Prosecutors and police are not trying to find the truth; they try to secure convictions and are often blind to an injustice occurring right before their eyes. It is without question that a skilled, fearless Michigan criminal defense attorney should be fighting for you because the prosecution will have plenty of experience, and they will be fighting for a conviction. If someone needs a lawyer when there is a wrongful allegation is a frequently asked question. The only answer to this question is an absolute yes.

“Do I need a lawyer if my case is still under investigation and no charges are filed against me?”

When your case is in a pre-charge state, you need a lawyer more than ever. Although very few experienced criminal attorneys know how to handle a criminal case on a pre-charge basis, having the right lawyer on the front lines for you can make the difference between the prosecutor charging you or denying a warrant for your arrest. It is important to note that police and prosecutors do not benefit from the doubt before filing charges. A criminal defense lawyer’s hard work on a pre-charge basis can be critical to a favorable charging decision. Police frequently make mistakes, and they are not always thorough. Some police detectives are less than ethical in a criminal investigation. Don’t assume that the police will fairly decide whether to charge you.

Prosecutors and police regularly fail to preserve evidence favorable to the defendant during the investigation stage. An experienced criminal defense attorney can take measures to help protect helpful evidence. Your lawyer must investigate any evidence in your favor and preserve the evidence as early as possible. In many cases, they can bring proof to the police and prosecutors’ attention before they charge you—and persuade them not to file charges against you. It is often easier to convince prosecutors not to file charges in the first place than to persuade them to dismiss charges once filed. Frequently asked questions from individuals under investigation almost always include an inquiry about whether they need a Michigan criminal defense attorney on a pre-charge basis.

“What can my lawyer do if the charges are already filed?”

If the police or prosecutor have already charged you, a lawyer may be able to prevent you from being arrested on a warrant. However, if the police arrest you, a skilled attorney can maximize your chances of getting a personal or recognizance bond. The attorney will evaluate the evidence and determine if the government can prove its case against you. Sometimes, prosecutors are mistaken about the strength of their evidence, and a savvy lawyer can persuade them to abandon their case after hearing both sides of the story. Other times, a savvy lawyer can convince a prosecutor to dismiss charges because of changes in the evidence, constitutional violations, or misconduct by law enforcement. A good defense lawyer will look for police mistakes or illegal tactics that can be the basis for the suppression of evidence or dismissal of the charges against you.

Suppose the attorney can’t get the charges dismissed. In that case, they will help you evaluate whether it is in your best interest to go to trial or accept a negotiated plea bargain, a sentence agreement, or Cobb’s evaluation. Only a skilled criminal defense lawyer can credibly evaluate your chances for success at trial. Such advice can only be given after a thorough investigation of the case, usually well beyond what the police have done. Individuals charged with crimes frequently ask how an experienced defense lawyer can help. If you call for a free consultation with our Michigan criminal defense attorneys, we will answer your questions, discuss your case, and work with you to develop a winning strategy.

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More Questions for Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys

“What if I just want to plead guilty?”

If you wish to plead guilty, an experienced defense lawyer can help ensure the judge and prosecutor treat you fairly. The penalties for many offenses are unexpectedly harsh. It is a misconception that the government is inclined to accept your plea and agree to leniency graciously. If you plead guilty without an attorney fighting to protect you, you can expect to get a sentence that will be longer, more difficult, and more expensive than necessary. You do not have to admit guilt and voluntarily submit yourself to the system. Notably, a conviction often has consequences beyond the court’s sentence, such as loss of driver’s license, student loan ineligibility, and others. You will not be informed of collateral consequences by the judge or prosecutor.

With an attorney specializing in criminal cases, you may be able to take responsibility for the offense without suffering the ramifications of a conviction on your record. Frequently asked questions from those accused of felony and misdemeanor offenses typically include inquiries about how a skilled lawyer can help someone who plans to plead guilty.

In short, you should never count on the mercy of the court or prosecutor. You will seldom find it. If you intend to admit to an offense, you need a lawyer who will take the time to learn who you are, where you come from, and where you wish to go—a lawyer who can obtain the best disposition for you. If you think about it, if your lawyer can convince the judge to reduce your fines, costs, and restitution, they may be able to pay for themselves in a roundabout way.

“Can I afford to hire a criminal attorney?”

A better question would be, “can I afford not to hire a Michigan criminal defense attorney?” The answer is simple; if you can put together the resources to hire an attorney, you will be in far better condition than if you try and go it alone. An experienced Michigan criminal defense will undoubtedly be able to help you. If you have not yet been charged but are a suspect in an offense, a criminal defense lawyer might be able to intervene. An experienced lawyer might prevent an arrest warrant from issuing by negotiating for reduced charges. Your financial stability, liberty, family, custody, employability, and reputation may be at stake. Spending the money on a good, pre-charge lawyer today may result in the preservation of a job, your earning ability, avoidance of huge fines, costs, and restitution, and the ability to sue for malicious prosecution in the event of a frivolous or unjustified prosecution. Higher personal and financial costs will undoubtedly result from not proactively hiring the best criminal defense lawyer available.

“While interviewing criminal defense attorneys, one stated they could “guarantee” a result if I hired them. Should I hire such a lawyer?”

No one can guarantee a future event, especially in a criminal defense case. Guaranteeing results is against the Michigan State Bar’s ethical rules. The outcome of a criminal case is a future event like any other. An experienced criminal trial attorney can usually give opinions about the possible outcome, but these are no more than professional opinions. Be careful not to mistake a criminal defense attorney’s opinion for a guarantee. If a criminal defense attorney makes promises of specific results if you hire them, ask the attorney to give you the guarantee in writing. As you will see, the lawyer will refuse to provide you anything in writing regarding guarantees, promises, or relationships with judges or prosecutors they claim will benefit your case. A lawyer willing to give a guarantee is dishonest and so desperate for work that they will lie to you to manipulate you into hiring them. Find a different lawyer. It is essential to ask a prospective lawyer many of the frequently asked questions on this page.

“How does someone get bailed out? Do I get the bail money returned when the case is over?”

Bail is a monetary or financial assurance that a defendant will return to court after being released from custody. Generally, a judge or magistrate determines bail in a criminal case at the arraignment (initial hearing). There are three ways to post bail. First, a defendant, or their friend/family, can post “cash” bail with the court or jail to cover the entire amount. At the end of the case, the person posting the bond will receive a check for the full amount posted. If the bond is in the defendant’s name, the court will take any costs, fees, fines, and restitution due out of the balance. Never put the bail in the defendant’s name.

Second, a bail company or bondsman can post the bond. A defendant pays about 10% of the entire amount to a bail company, which puts up the whole bail amount through a bond. When the case concludes, the 10% is not returned to the defendant because this is the fee paid to the bail company to post bail on his behalf (like an insurance premium).

Third, the court may set a 10% bond. Under these circumstances, the defendant can post 10% of the bond’s amount and promise to pay the other 90% if the defendant fails to appear in court or violates a bond condition. The court will keep 10% of the amount posted as a fee when the case ends.

“The person that called the police does not want to prosecute. Does that mean the case will get dropped, and the police will release me from custody?”

The government will not drop charges if the victim or complainant requests dismissal. There are many reasons why the alleged victim or reporting party may have a change of heart. It may be that the report of crime (violence, theft, or other violation) may have been false or inaccurate. It may also be that the person is scared to proceed with a prosecution or afraid to lose a source of financial support. The police and the prosecutor’s office know all the reasons and do not just “drop charges,” especially in domestic violence cases or other matters. In almost all cases, the prosecution assumes the worst and refuses to dismiss the charges.

You can usually work out a payment plan or break up payments with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. to pay legal fees. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. accepts credit cards, cash, wire transfers, and checks. Our lawyers always use written retainer agreements. Usually, a client must pay a substantial portion of the fee up-front and according to a payment schedule.

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“My divorce attorney says they can handle my criminal case. Do I need an attorney who practices exclusively criminal cases?”

Would you want to be treated by a general practice doctor or a heart specialist if you had a heart problem? The same principle applies to lawyers. If a criminal lawyer is getting divorced, they hire a divorce lawyer. If a real estate attorney gets charged with a DUI, they hire a Michigan criminal defense lawyer. The law is complex, and a general practice lawyer practicing multiple areas of the law cannot be an expert in all of them. If you need a divorce, hire a lawyer that exclusively handles divorce. If you are charged with a crime or accused of committing a criminal offense, you should seek a lawyer exclusively practicing criminal defense. Many people do not realize that the Michigan Court Rules governing civil cases differ entirely from those governing criminal matters. Failure to know the intricacies of even one of the many rules can result in an error affecting the rest of your life.

“What if I feel that the police violated my constitutional rights?”

A criminal defense attorney seeks to exclude evidence obtained due to police misconduct. At times, police misconduct occurs during searches of vehicles and homes. Additionally, if law enforcement is too aggressive in obtaining an incriminating statement from a suspect, it may violate their Miranda rights. Litigation in the criminal court allows a defense lawyer to protect his client’s rights by submitting motions to the judge seeking to exclude the recovered evidence or received statements from the trial. A successful motion to suppress evidence cripples the prosecutor’s case, causing the matter to be dismissed or substantially reduced in plea negotiations.

If the defendant is not a U.S. citizen, how will the immigration status be affected by an arrest?

Criminal convictions may cause direct and grave consequences to someone’s immigration status, often leading to deportation proceedings. The INS guidelines are often very complex, and our criminal defense attorneys frequently confer with immigration law specialists to advise clients appropriately. Before going to court, our criminal lawyers discuss with clients their immigration status. Our criminal law attorneys often seek plea bargains with charges reduced or changed so that they are not considered crimes by the INS. Prosecutors will frequently work with respected defense counsel, consider reasonable alternatives to crimes of moral turpitude, which are subject to deportation, and convert any possible custody time to community service work.

In Michigan, law enforcement runs jails and regularly verifies immigration status upon receiving an inmate. As a result, an “immigration hold” may be placed as soon as an inmate is in custody, subjecting them to deportation proceedings. The inmate may be deported from the United States after the INS picks the inmate up from the sheriff or police department’s custody. The saddest part is that the inmate may be innocent of all charges and get deported because their immigration status is questionable.

“State v. Federal Court: What is the difference in criminal defense issues?”

Federal agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, Customs, Treasury, and other federal agencies, investigate federal court criminal cases. Sometimes state and local agencies file charges in federal court if the offenses involve a significant quantity of drugs, weapons, or other contraband. The federal government has more resources to prosecute cases, including special units to prosecute drugs, fraud, and violent crimes. While the state and local governments also have special units, fewer prosecutors with larger caseloads. Local law enforcement does not have nearly as many resources to complete investigations as thoroughly as federal law enforcement.

Most importantly, it is in a criminal defendant’s interest to defend state charges rather than face felony charges in federal court. The Michigan Sentencing Guidelines usually require a shorter sentence than the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Regularly, state courts have far more alternative sentencing options than federal courts.

“How can I clear up an arrest warrant?”

Clearing up an arrest or bench warrant can be done by appearing in front of the court that issued the warrant. Police or law enforcement officers will arrest the person if the warrant is in the system. An arrest would occur when they have contact with the police or government agency and even upon arrival into the United States at the airport or an international border crossing. Immediate action to clear the warrant is the best approach to this legal problem. Voluntarily coming into the court with a well-known, retained lawyer may result in the person’s release on a low or personal bond. The bond may be very high or denied if police arrest the person on the warrant. The defense lawyer can file a Motion to Reduce Bond if a judge has already set a cash bond.

“Why should I hire LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.?”

At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., our legal team is comprised of aggressive, passionate, and fearless defense attorneys. We are well-versed in criminal law and all potential defenses. You will want someone experienced with defending clients within the Michigan criminal justice system. Our criminal defense attorneys have decades of successful courtroom experience, and we are fully prepared to undertake your case. When working with our clients, we do everything possible to ensure they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel they deserve. We will find a way to help you; most importantly, we are not afraid to win! Your best defense starts with hiring criminal defense attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

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“What types of cases does your law firm handle?”

The Criminal Defense Attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully handled all misdemeanor and felony cases involving: DUI-OWI (Drunk Driving), Sex Crimes, Retail Fraud, White Collar Crimes, Drug Crimes, Violent Crimes, Domestic Violence/Assault, Federal Crimes, Juvenile Crimes, Theft Crimes, Weapons Charges, Driving Charges, Fraud, Conspiracy, Internet Crimes, Probation Violation (VOP), Driver License Restoration, Expungement, Appeals (Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court), Arrest Warrant Arraignment, Shoplifting, Ordinance Violations, Human Trafficking, Traffic Tickets, Child Abuse, Personal Protection Orders (PPO), Burglary, Robbery, and many more.

If you want to speak to an experienced, passionate, and zealous Michigan Criminal Defense Specialist, give LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. a call today for a free consultation. We will take the time to listen to you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. Together, we will develop a winning strategy. We will show you how to get the best possible legal representation with good, affordable defense attorneys.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

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

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