When an individual is arrested or charged with a criminal offense, having a good attorney can have a major impact on the legal outcome of their case. A criminal defense attorney with expertise and intimate knowledge of state laws and the local court systems is critical for a successful defense. The right attorney will possess the legal toolbox to provide the best possible protection for your rights as well as minimize any penalties incurred. In certain cases, they can even dismiss a case or successfully push to have your criminal record expunged.
As lawyers specializing in criminal law with decades of combined experience, the attorneys at George Law have extensive experience and knowledge of practically every facet of Michigan’s legal system and process. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of requiring assistance or representation in legal issues involving the police or courts in Michigan, please call us today to see how we can help (248) 470-4300
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- Why Hire George Law?
- The Criminal Process in Michigan
- DUI Charges in Michigan
- Criminal Defense Practice Areas
- Misdemeanor Offenses
- Felony Offenses
- Juvenile and Minor Crimes
- Criminal Record Expungement
- Talk With a Criminal Defense Attorney
Why Hire George Law?
Facing criminal charges is one of the most serious situations an individual will find themselves in, with the potential for life-altering consequences. For this reason, it is vital that defendants choose the best possible legal defense. An attorney specializing in criminal law will be able to take the facts of your case and use them to mount an effective defense. When combined with extensive experience in the court system and a good working relationship with court staff and judges, the right criminal defense lawyer can be the difference between freedom and facing prison and extensive fines.
At George Law, we pride ourselves on our experience and track record of success in ensuring the best possible legal outcomes for our clients. When you hire our team of expert attorneys, you will have our decades of legal experience on your side backed up with countless numbers of cases won and charges dismissed. Our award-winning criminal defense firm is highly regarded in the Greater Detroit Area, with a well-earned reputation for achieving positive outcomes in cases and outstanding courtroom performance.
The Criminal Process in Michigan
There are three key steps in the criminal process that must be followed in order for a person to be convicted of a crime in Michigan.
In any potential criminal case, the first step is for law enforcement to actively investigate a crime. Generally speaking, this is the stage where someone is considered to be a suspect or person of interest. Those who find themselves being investigated should be aware that they have constitutional rights that cannot be infringed.
The most relevant of these for those being investigated is the 4th amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the 5th amendment protection against self-incrimination, also known as Miranda Rights. It is important for those who are the subject of a criminal investigation to consult with an attorney specializing in criminal defense matters to ensure their rights are upheld.
Being Arrested and Charged
If there has been enough evidence gathered that can show that a crime was committed by an individual, police can and will make an arrest. It is important to be aware that being arrested for a crime is not actually the same thing as being charged with a crime. While law enforcement makes the arrest, it is ultimately up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not the individual arrested should be charged.
In order to arrest and charge an individual in Michigan, there is a required standard of proof that must be met, known as probable cause. This means that the police and prosecutors only need a certain threshold of evidence to believe that not only was a crime committed but that specifically, that individual was the one who committed the crime.
Criminal Court Procedure
There are several basic steps that are involved in a Michigan criminal court proceeding. There are slight differences in the process depending on whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, however, the steps outlined below are what can be realistically expected.
- Arraignment – This will be the first time you will appear before a court after an arrest. The defendant is legally required to enter a plea during the arraignment process. There are several different plea options, which include: guilty, not guilty, and no contest – formally known as nolo contendere.
- Pretrial – There are certain factors that are considered during the pretrial stage, which will determine whether or not a case can be resolved prior to trial. These factors often include evidence exclusions, issues with search and seizure, violations of the accused Miranda rights, etc.
- Trial – If the pretrial stage has resulted in the decision to move forward with a case, then the next step is the actual criminal trial where the case will be presented against a judge and/or prosecutor. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove their case that the defendant is guilty of their offense(s) beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Verdict – After the defense and prosecution have finished presenting their case, the judge and jury are then tasked with making a decision about the case. This usually results in one of two verdicts – guilty or not guilty. In certain situations, however, the defendant may require a new trial (such as a mistrial).
- Sentencing – If a guilty verdict is rendered, there will be a second court hearing that will determine the sentencing for the convicted. Usually, the judge will utilize a pre-sentencing report from a probation officer with recommendations for sentencing. The prosecution and defense teams may also work together to provide sentencing recommendations to the judge.
- Appeals – There are multiple different legal grounds that can be used for appealing a conviction. These usually include things such as legal errors, jury issues, issues with the judge, etc. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it is possible that either an entire verdict may be appealed, or at least the sentencing in order to reduce penalties. Per Michigan law, misdemeanor appeals are done through the circuit courts while felony appeals are completed through the court of appeals.
DUI Charges in Michigan
Drunk driving offenses are considered a unique area of law, especially in the State of Michigan. Unlike most other states, they are classified as offenses under the Motor Vehicle Code as well as the Criminal Code. Essentially, DUIs are an entirely separate classification of criminal offenses and there is little hesitation on the part of Michigan courts to hand out harsh penalties.
Once an individual has been arrested for an OWI offense, the moment they’re released from law enforcement custody the clock for the life cycle of their drunk driving case starts. Although many individuals are caught up in how they just had one of the worst nights in their life, it is critical that they reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible as their time to mount an effective defense may be limited. This is especially true of those who were arrested in Oakland County for drunk driving, as they run a high chance of incarceration even if it is their first offense.
George Law has extensive experience in the Oakland County court system, as well as the surrounding court systems making up the Metro-Detroit area. If you find yourself facing OWI charges in Michigan, it is vital that you choose the best legal defense possible. We will work with you to ensure your rights are upheld and the legal penalties are minimized and mitigated and your future is protected.
Criminal Defense Practice Areas
Our firm specializes in multiple different aspects of Michigan criminal law. These areas include:
- DUI/OWI Defense
- Drivers License Restoration
- Misdemeanor Charges
- Felony Charges
- Juvenile Offenses
- School Offenses
- Probation Violations
- Assault & Violent crimes
- Domestic Violence Charges
- Drug Charges
- Sex Charges
- Theft and Property Crimes
- Criminal Record Expungements
- Federal Crimes
In Michigan, misdemeanors are crimes that are considered to be less serious than felonies but more serious than civil infractions, also known as “tickets”. Generally speaking, these are distinguished from felonies because they involve crimes that are considered to be less serious, such as those involving less serious injuries, lower value of property stolen, a lesser quantity of drugs found, etc. Another key aspect that distinguishes misdemeanors from felonies is that they rarely result in a prison sentence.
The State of Michigan divides misdemeanors into three primary types depending on the specific crime involved, with varying penalties. These are:
- Misdemeanors punishable by up to 93 days in jail
Examples of this first level of misdemeanor offense include assault & battery, theft of property valued under $200, etc. These are the most minor criminal offenses possible that are above a civil infraction.
- Misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail
This second level of misdemeanor is a more serious offense and consists of more egregious crimes, such as larceny of property valued at above $200 but under $1000, 2nd degree retail fraud, etc.
- Misdemeanors punishable by up to 2 years in prison
This third level is by far the most serious and includes the most egregious of misdemeanor offenses such as vehicle negligent homicide, negligent homicide, etc.
Felonies are considered to be much more serious crimes and can result in two or more years of imprisonment. Because they are more serious than misdemeanors they will almost always result in a prison sentence. In addition to more serious immediate consequences, a felony can result in long-term consequences even after a sentence has been served, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold a liquor license, own a firearm, etc. Because felony convictions are public records, employers can easily discover them on background checks and this often results in the loss of employment as well as hindering future job opportunities.
Examples of common felony charges in Michigan include but are not limited to:
- Felonious assault
- Felony theft
- Felony drug charges
- Third offense OWI
- Felony property damage
Unfortunately, there are many ways in which an individual can find themselves in serious legal trouble for a seemingly innocuous offense such as possession of a drug for personal use or just simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The traps and pitfalls of the complex legal system in Michigan can result in individuals being faced with felony charges, and it is important that they do not risk their futures by hiring an inadequate legal defense.
Juvenile and Minor Crimes
Cases involving juveniles and minors are considered to be special cases in our criminal justice system, and it takes specialized knowledge and experience to properly represent their legal rights. The attorneys at George Law have decades of combined experience representing every aspect of juvenile law, including:
- Juvenile Records
- Status Offenses
- Juvenile Court
- Juvenile Diversion
- Probation Issues
- Delinquency Petition
- Theft Offenses
- Youth Assistance
Read more in our blog: Seeking Criminal Defense Representation For Your Child
Criminal Record Expungement
In Michigan, there is a specific process for expunging an individual’s criminal record. Formally known as an “Application to Set Aside Conviction”, this process is complex and challenging. It is important for individuals who are seeking to expunge their records to hire an attorney who specializes in this process in order to ensure the best possible chance of success.
Just because an individual makes a mistake does not mean that they should have a black mark on their record for the rest of their lives. Sometimes good people make poor choices, and the attorneys at George Law take pride in fighting on behalf of clients who are dedicated to making changes and getting a fresh start in life.
Talk With a Criminal Defense Attorney
The criminal justice system in the United States was developed to be fair and just. Unfortunately, however, no system is perfect. Like any other system, the criminal justice system is run by people who make errors and simple human mistakes, have bias, and may even have malicious intent. Because of this, it is essential to properly defend oneself in the event that they are suspected of or charged with an offense. This requires an in-depth knowledge of the laws and legal processes of the state, with a good working relationship with prosecutors, judges, and the court system.
The criminal defense attorneys at George Law have decades of combined experience working in Michigan’s court system and successfully defending clients in criminal cases. Our team will sit down with you to discuss and analyze your particular situation, and formulate a specific winning legal strategy to ensure the best possible legal outcome. If you are facing criminal charges and are in need of the best possible legal defense, please contact us today to make the first right step in protecting your freedom and your future.