Transcript of the Divorce Literacy Podcast
Professional Spotlight with Criminal Defense Attorney Loren Dickstein, Esq.
Transcript of the Podcast
You’re listening to Divorce Literacy with the Divorce Lending Association, a divorce podcast where we dig deep into issues of divorce that center around the marital home, other real property, and divorce mortgage planning, helping divorcing homeowners and their divorce team make more informed decisions regarding home equity solutions during and after divorce.
Carri: Hi, I’m Carri Goldring (“Carri”), and I’m with the Divorce Lending Association. I am a Certified Divorce Lending Professional, or sometimes called “CDLP,” and today, I have Attorney Loren Dickstein (“Loren”) with me, who is going to introduce himself and explain a little bit about what he does. Hi, Loren.
Loren: Hi Carri. As you said, my name is Loren Dickstein, and I am a partner at a law firm named Lewis & Dickstein in Southfield, Michigan. We are a law firm that specializes entirely in criminal defense, and we work all over Michigan, but mostly in the tri-county area, so Oakland, Wayne, Macomb; and we frequently work with family law lawyers and individuals who are going through family law issues, like divorce, and help when there is a criminal allegation so that we can protect and defend our clients, and also help the family law attorney when they have someone that they need an expert to help them with.
Carri: That’s wonderful. So, do you say that normally you are hired by the attorney, or by – like, who first contacts you normally? When does someone realize that you need to come in and be involved?
Loren: Sure. It can really go either way. So, oftentimes we work for family law attorneys all over Michigan. Some of them prefer just to give the client our contact information, and they will call and say, “Attorney so-and-so referred us to you because we have an issue that we need help with,” or sometimes we will get a call from the family law lawyer who will say, “Hey, I have a client, this is their situation, and this is where we need you to intervene and help them and the client has given permission for you to call them directly,” and then I will reach out to them, or one of my associates will reach out to them directly.
Carri: So, give me some examples of why someone may need a criminal attorney in a divorce case.
Loren: Sure, well, usually, a divorce happens either because of an acute or a chronic situation, meaning over time or something dramatic happens that causes a divorce. Sometimes, when there is an acute situation, it could be a domestic violence situation or an allegation of child abuse or neglect; criminal sexual conduct, some type of harassment, or a situation where someone is very upset and calls the police. When that happens, oftentimes the police will do an investigation, and there can be criminal charges.
Also, someone might be contemplating a divorce and wants to try to figure out a way to get an advantage. Unfortunately, there are some attorneys, not many, but there are some family law lawyers who will point out that if the police are called and respond and if your spouse is charged with, say, domestic violence, that would give us a huge advantage in the divorce, might give you sole possession of the home, and it can give you an advantage, and so that’s when they really need someone strong to step in and to intervene on their behalf.
Carri: So, what if someone, let’s say me, is going through a divorce and the police are knocking on my door, what do I do?
Loren: It is most important, when the police are coming, to talk with someone, and to realize that the police are not there to find the truth. The police are there to prove a case. It’s a very common misconception that they are there to get justice and hear both sides of the story.
Typically, when the police come out, they have in their minds already that you did something wrong and they are looking to build a case, so when you think about the Miranda warning, when they say, “Anything that you say can and will be used against you,” it’s not might be used against you, it’s will be used against you.
So, it is essential that you remain quiet, you respectfully say, “I invoke my right to remain silent,” and you contact a criminal defense attorney, like the ones at my firm, and then we can speak on your behalf and what we say, we can advocate for you, and that can’t be used against you.
Anything you say, even if you say you didn’t do it, they’ll say, “well, your eyes didn’t maintain eye contact,” or “you acted nervous,” or that you acted in a way that they think is guilty; so somehow, someway, they will use anything that you do on your own behalf against you, and that’s why it is so important to get someone there to protect you.
Carri: For sure, that sounds very scary, but you should definitely open the door.
Loren: Yeah, it’s better to open the door and just be very respectful and say, “Sorry I can’t speak with you. I want my lawyer with me for any questioning (the correct terminology is ‘invoke’) and I’m going to invoke my right to remain silent and not answer questions.”
Carri: Wow, and of course, you’re all nervous, and—
Loren: Yeah, but you know what? When you get someone on your side, whom you have faith is going to protect you, it tends to bring down the stress level a little bit when you know that there is someone in front protecting you and doing whatever needs to be done to help you.
Carri: That makes sense. Can you give a quick example of how you may have helped a family going through a divorce?
Loren: Absolutely. So, there was a family law attorney who contacted us, it had to be about a year ago, and there was a divorce going on and it was a marriage later in life, so the wife had a lakefront property and she called the police and accused her husband of taking a chainsaw and cutting her deck on her lakefront property, and the deck went floating out into the lake.
And they contacted us, and we interviewed the client, who was adamant that he was not guilty and did not do it. We hired a wood expert, someone who was an expert in analyzing wood cutting, who was able to look at the pictures from the police, analyze the sawdust, and was able to definitively state that the cut was made with an entirely different kind of saw that can’t be mistaken for one another.
Our client passed a polygraph examination, which although not evidence, does affect the prosecutor’s charging decision and ultimately, we were able to save our client from being charged. Had that family law lawyer not taken the initiative to have her client call us, he almost certainly would have been facing a felony charge in circuit court, and we would have been defending him at trial rather than getting the charges dismissed.
Carri: Wow. So lucky that that attorney knew you, or that guy, what a savior.
Carri: So what other allegations would there be that someone would hire you for? Give me some examples.
Loren: Well, other than family law, I mean, our firm does all manner of criminal cases, all misdemeanors and felonies in state and federal court, from drunk driving to white collar crime, representing doctors and other professionals in various cases, as well as all types of criminal cases.
But in divorce cases, the most common ones are either domestic violence, child abuse, or criminal sexual conduct, and then occasionally, it could be that an in-law or a spouse could call and complain to Child Protective Services, who could initiate a neglect or abuse case, in which case, you would want a criminal defense attorney to help with that as well because it can result in either the temporary wardship of the children or in the worst cases, terminate a parent’s parental rights.
Carri: Wow, so you definitely are an important part of the team!
Loren: Well, it’s a good part of the team for divorce attorneys and for family law lawyers because first of all, they want to stick within their lane and not give advice, especially in the criminal area because of the malpractice.
If you give someone bad advice, and it causes them to be charged or convicted when they might not otherwise have been in trouble, you know, that’s not something they want to get involved in.
The great thing about our firm – for family law lawyers – is that we don’t do family law, so there are a lot of attorneys who, we call them multi-practice lawyers, who do divorce, and not only family law, but also criminal defense, and if the client gets ahold of one of those attorneys and they say, “Hey, your divorce isn’t being handled properly, we can do a better job,” then, you know, they might lose the case and that might not be the best advice for the client; whereas, if they send it to our firm, and we don’t do family law, we will always be supportive of that lawyer’s relationship and protect them.
Not to mention that, although of course, it doesn’t result in higher fees for the client, we do pay referral fees, so if a lawyer refers us a case, part of that client’s fee goes to the family law lawyer for the referral, and so they don’t have to worry about their relationship being interfered with and, of course, they get the referral fees, which I am sure the family law attorneys would be happy about.
Carri: That’s fabulous. Thank you so much. I learned a lot, and I’m sure that anyone listening to this will have learned a lot. If someone wants to get ahold of you or the firm, what is the best way for them to do that?
Loren: Sure, we have six criminal defense attorneys at the firm, and they can just call at (248) 263-6800 and an experienced criminal defense attorney will give them a free consultation; or they can go to our website, which has all kinds of information, and that’s at www.notafraidtowin.com, just spelled out, all one word.
Carri: Anything that you want to leave us with before we say goodbye?
Loren: Just that we offer free consultations, so if someone is really not sure if a criminal defense attorney is a good fit for them, or if they just want to feel us out and see if we have the right chemistry to help them, or just ask questions, they can contact us and we will give them some time and help give them whatever guidance we can to improve their situations.
I really appreciate your time, Carri, and this has been a pleasure. Thank you.
Carri: Thank you so much for doing this with me.
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