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Criminal Law

Criminal Law

In theory, criminal law regulates or controls potentially dangerous behavior that can harm individuals, or the general public. It is also punitive in nature because violators of the law may be punished with either time in prison or jail, and monetary fines, or both.  Unfortunately, there is no strict uniformity in punishment: in one state, what could be considered a minor violation may be considered a major violation in another state.  Because of this lack of continuity in our legal system and the weight a charge by a prosecutor’s office often carries, more often than not, a criminal defendant is guilty until proven innocent. Consequently, it is important that if you are charged with a crime to choose an experienced criminal attorney who knows his or her way around the courtroom. This only comes through experience in handling misdemeanor and felony cases, including capital crimes. Capital crimes are crimes that carry a maximum life sentence in prison.   In Michigan, a first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Just because an individual has been charged with a crime, and thus labeled a “defendant,” does not mean that he or she has broken the law.  That is merely a title used to describe someone who is alleged to have committed a crime.  Even so, mistakes are made and individuals will run afoul of the law.  This does not mean that a person should simply be railroaded or rushed to judgment. Everyone deserves a second chance, but more importantly every one deserves top-notch representation from an experienced attorney.

It is important to know that many cases are resolved before going to trial, but some cases must proceed all the way through a jury trial.  In either event, having an experienced criminal defense attorney involved from the very beginning can make all the difference.  From dealing with the prosecutor and law enforcement in helping to get an accused out of jail on bond, to negotiating a fair resolution of the case with the prosecutor, and making sure the case is prepared the right way to protect an accused’s right, an experienced attorney can ensure you are protected throughout the whole process.  In an adversarial process, you need to make sure you have the right advocate on your side from the start.

Police Brutality

police-brutalityAs of July 2016, approximately 800 people, many of whom were unarmed, have been killed by the police in the United States. The Washington Post reported 715 killings, the “Killed By Police,” Database reported 855 people, and The Guardian, a British news source, reported 800.

Additionally, People of Color have been killed at the highest rates. The numbers of police killings by Race & Ethnicity Per Million People, were astounding:

  • Native Americans:                           49%
  • Black/African Americans:                86%
  • Hispanic/Latin Americans:               3%
  • White Americans:                             95%
  • Asian/Pacific Islander Americans: .72%

More Americans are killed by their own police than in any other developed country in the world! The families of these victims deserve Justice. There are a multiple ways that the families of victims of police brutality may have a case against these injustices:

FEDERAL LAW:

You may have a Constitutional claim of excessive force against a police officer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Courts have interpreted §1983 in terms of excessive force. The idea being that police force, when excessive, rises to the level of a Fourth Amendment Constitutional violation.

STATE LAW:

You may also have a Wrongful Death claim. The relevant Michigan statute is MCL 600.2955(b). A police officer is liable in tort for personal injuries when the police officer’s conduct amounts to gross negligence that is the proximate cause of the injury or damage.

Know Your Rights!

Understanding your rights, and your entitlements is important. Whether your claim is a Federal claim, State claim, or both, it is FUNDAMENTAL that you have an experienced trial lawyer on your side. Our lawyers have worked hard, have gone to trial, and have won cases like these. Contact one of our experienced attorneys today if you feel like you, or someone you know has been a victim of police brutality. GET HELP NOW by submitting our Free Consultation form or call our toll free number 248-855-6330.

DUI

duiYOU DRANK, YOU DROVE, YOUR LICENSE IS REVOKED!

Has your license been revoked because you drove under the influence? Here are some things that you should know about the consequences of getting a DUI or an OWI.

Types Of Charges:

  • Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) –means that because of alcohol or drugs, your ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired.
  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) –3 Types:
    • Alcohol or drugs substantially affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
    • A Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) at or above 0.08.
    • High BAC means that the alcohol level in your body was at or above 0.17.
  • Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD) –means having a small trace of any of these substances in your system, even if you do not appear to be intoxicated or impaired.
  • Under Age 21, With Any Bodily Alcohol Content (Zero Tolerance) –any bodily alcohol content other than that which was consumed at a religious ceremony.

The State of Michigan can impose a number (or combination) of punishments for DUIs & OWI

1st Offense 2nd Offense (w/n 7 yrs) 3rd Offense (IS A FELONY)
Points 6 points 6 points 6 points
Fines $100-$300 $200-$1000 $500-$5000
Vehicle Lock Up Possible Vehicle Immobilization OR Ignition Interlock License Plate Confiscation/ Immobilization for up to 180 Days/ Vehicle Forfeiture Vehicle Immobilization for up to 3 years/ or Vehicle Forfeiture
Licensing Suspension For 30 Days, + License revocation up to 5 yrs. License revocation from 1-5 years.
Jail Up to 93 Days in Jail or 360 Hours of Community Service Up to 1 year in jail and/or up to 90 Days of Community Service Up to 5 years imprisonment or probation with 30 days to 1 year in jail.

And these punishments only begin to scratch the surface. Punishment becomes more severe if the driver is under the drinking age (21); has a high BAC (Bodily Alcohol Content), is Driving While Visually Impaired; Causes Death or Serious Bodily Harm.

“Super Drunk” Laws

  • A mandatory 6-month driver license suspension, even for a first conviction of operating a BAC of .17 or higher.

Do I Have To Take A Breath Test (PBT):

  • If you refuse you may receive a: civil Infraction of up to $150 plus court costs.
  • If you are Under 21, you may have two points added to your driving record.
  • Whether you take the PBT or not, you still must take the evidentiary test required by Michigan’s Implied Consent Law.

Refusing to take a BAC or another test designed to detect the presence of drugs in your system may have consequences separate from refusing to take a PBT.

Terry Stops & PROBABLE CAUSE

terry-stopsWHAT IS PROBABLE CAUSE

Understanding Your Rights! 

First, there is a fundamental difference between probable cause to search, and reasonable suspicion to conduct a “frisk” or a Terry stop. An officer does not need probable cause to conduct a Terry Stop; instead, he only needs reasonable suspicion. Probable cause exists when the circumstances are such to make a police officer believe that a crime or violation has been committed. Probable cause is also needed for a warrant, to conduct a full search, or to effectuate an arrest.

Apart from what the United States Supreme Court has reasoned, there is no exact definition for what constitutes enough to meet the standard of probable cause. Probable Cause is more than a hunch, but less than a fifty-one percent certainty. The Court has said that a good faith belief is not enough however, there needs to be a factual basis, grounded in an officer’s belief that is based on his knowledge and experience.

TERRY STOPS

Terry Stops: How To Respond To “Stop and Frisk!”

In order for an officer to conduct a Terry Stop, or a “stop and frisk,” the officer needs to have “Reasonable Suspicion.”

  • An officer has reasonable suspicion when, looking at the entire situation, the officer has a particular and objective basis to suspect a crime or violation.
  • A Terry Stop must be “strictly tied and justified by the circumstances that made its initiation permissible.”
  • A Terry Stop essentially only allows an officer an opportunity for a “plain feel,” –which is an outside pat down, to ensure that there are no weapons or dangerous items on the suspect’s person.

Identification: Do You Have To Show Your I.D?

Michigan

In Michigan, you must show I.D. if you are stopped while driving, or if you are in a place that sells alcoholic beverages. At any other time, you cannot be legally arrested for failing to present identification to a police officer.

  • Always ask the police if you are being detained.
  • If you are stopped while driving, you must show the officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance, however you do not have to answer any other questions without a lawyer present.
  • You cannot lie or provide false information to the police.
  • Always remain calm, do not resist or flee.

Federal:

Generally, whether you have to show identification to a police officer varies state by state, the federal government only requires that such statutes are narrow in scope and are not overly vague. The United States Supreme Court has upheld most of these “stop and identify,” statutes. Again ask the same questions as above.

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