Domestic Violence Charge Dismissed
Sexual Assault Charges Dropped
Felony Heroin Possession Case Dismissed
DUI Case Dismissed
Super Lawyers
Justia Lawyer Rating
Best Lawyers
The Best Lawyers in America
Avvo Clients' Choice
Avvo Rating 10.0
National College for DUI Defense
National Collage for DUI Defense
American Council Of Second Amendment Lawyers

Attorney and Practice Magazine recently invited Patrick Barone “membership” as one of Michigan’s Top 10 Attorneys. The bar to entry?  Payment of either $295 for 2020, $295 for 2021 or $590 for both years. Subsequent to payment, Mr. Barone would have available to him a host of impressive materials, from a nice looking website badge to a all plaque to be proudly displayed on the office wall.

Lawyer Ratings Have Become Big Business

In the last decade lawyer ratings have become big business. Most of them consist of a few lawyers getting together and deciding they can get rich by offering paid-for credentials to other lawyers. Several times per month at the criminal defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm receive solicitations to be listed on this “top 10 list,” or that “nation’s best list,” usually with the only bar to entry a small payment of usually about $300-$500.

Sex crime allegations in Michigan are taken very seriously by law enforcement. Due to the specialized nature of these cases many police departments have officers and detectives with in depth training specific to the investigation of sex crime cases. The same is true for lawyers who work with the police departs to prosecute sex crime cases. In fact, many of the larger counties have specific teams of prosecutors who exclusively handle sex crimes cases. For example, the Wayne County Prosecutor has the Sexual Assault Team, and the Oakland County Prosecutor has the Special Victim Section (SVS).

On the west side of Michigan, Kent County does not have a specially named division in the prosecutor’s office, but that office does designate a few attorneys within the office to handle most of the sex crimes cases in the county.

To combat these highly specialized sex crime teams at the various prosecuting attorney’s offices throughout the State of Michigan, the Barone Defense Firm has assembled a team of sex crimes lawyers to go head to head with the prosecutors.

Michigan doctors are under heightened risk of prosecution for prescription fraud.  This is because Michigan, and specifically the Eastern District of Michigan, has been identified as one of the top 12 places in the Country for opioid fraud and abuse. For this reason alone it’s important for Michigan doctors to be aware of how prescription fraud cases are identified and prosecuted.

Broadly speaking, prescription fraud is committed when someone fraudulently obtains prescription drugs. The fraud can be committed in various ways. For example, there have been cases in which doctors wrote fake prescriptions for pain killers and gave the scripts to a “runner.” The runner then takes the scripts to a knowing or unknowing pharmacy for the prescription to be filled. In these cases, the drugs are typically re-sold on the street at a very high markup. The funds are then distributed back up the chain.

Another example comes from a recent prescription fraud case in Michigan. In this case, two men worked together. One would impersonate a doctor and call a prescription into a pharmacy. The two men then drove to the pharmacy and the other would go in and try to obtain the prescription drugs.

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Marisa Feil of FWCanada

If you have a criminal conviction and you’re wondering what steps you need to take to enter Canada, then you’re not alone. Our Clients often wonder whether they should you bring a passport, a driver’s license or their social security cards?  These common questions arise because the immigration process is confusing, and learning the intricacies of the system, and how to navigate it, is a daunting task.

Thankfully, once you sift through the information, it is not as complicated as it seems. There are a few important things to know, though, if you are considering making a trip to Canada. And to answer the question, yes, you should bring your passport and driver license, but you can leave your social security card at home.

If you have been charged with and convicted of a felony in Michigan, then it will be important for you to know and understand the sentencing guidelines. From a historical perspective, sentencing guidelines were intended to accomplish several things, one of which was to remove the possibility of discriminatory sentences. Because there is a certain amount of objectivity to the calculation of sentencing guidelines, a wealthy white male should be sentenced in the same range as a poor black woman.

How Do Sentencing Guidelines Work?

Generally speaking, each offense category has assigned to it a variety of offense variables and prior record variables. Points are assigned for each of these variables, tallied, and then applied to the appropriate sentencing grid. The results of both will cause your sentence to “land” within a particular cell that will dictate the appropriate minimum sentence.

The Payroll Protection Program was included in the CARES Act to provide small businesses with funds to pay employees when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Like almost any government assistance program in history, there have been instances of fraud related to PPP loans. The Department of Justice and Office of The United States Attorneys have been on the lookout for businesses and people who fraudulently obtained PPP funds. If you have been contacted by law enforcement about your PPP funds, do not make any statements to law enforcement and call an experienced Federal Fraud Lawyer at the Barone Defense Firm immediately.

What are the qualifications to be eligible for the PPP?

The first requirement to be eligible for the PPP is that the business must be a small business as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Your business must not have more than 500 employees or must meet the size standards set by the SBA. The SBA sets size standards in terms of revenue dollars and number of employees. For example, if you own a brewery, you’re considered a small business by the SBA if you have 1,250 employees or less

In 2013, owners and employees of Kentwood Pharmacy were indicted on federal conspiracy charges. The indictment alleged that Kentwood sold prescription drugs to customers, recaptured unused drugs, then re-sold the drugs to others. For obvious reasons, the re-sale of prescription drugs is illegal under federal law. Because this case involved federal law, this case was handled by the United States Attorney’s Office and filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. This court is tough on these cases, and this showed in the way this case was handled. The team of federal criminal defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm are very familiar with this court and know firsthand how difficult and specialized these cases are to properly defend.

For example, one of the laws used to charge Kentwood Pharmacy in this case was set out under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). This law says that a drug is misbranded if its label is false or misleading in any way (21 U.S.C. §§ 301). Each prescription bottle should have a label that lists, among other things, its lot number. This lot number is a way to trace the manufacturing history of the drug. That way, if there are any issues with the drug, the lot number on the label can be used to investigate how the issue occurred. If a drug is mislabeled, then it would make it difficult or impossible to understand the manufacturing history and cause of the problem of the drug.

In this case, Kentwood had adult foster care homes and nursing homes as customers. Kentwood sold prescription drugs to these customers. Kentwood then directed employees pick up previously dispensed, unused drugs from these customers. Kentwood would then repackage these drugs and resell them, as if new. This resulted in drugs going into containers that had lot numbers and expiration dates that did not match. Sometimes, the containers that the old drugs were placed in contained no lot numbers. This practice also resulted in Medicare and Medicaid being billed more than once for the same drug.

In some drunk driving cases you will immediately know that charges are being filed. For example, there was a traffic stop, field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test (PBT), an arrest, and a subsequent breath test at the police station. Then, when you leave the police station you’ll have all the documents reflecting that you’re being charged with DUI.

In other cases, it might not be so clear. Some confusion may arise when a blood sample was taken as opposed to a breath test. In most DUI cases in which a blood sample was obtained, no formal citation issued at the time of the arrest.  The same is true if you have one or more prior DUI offenses. Another reason you may not have received a ticket is you blow super-drunk at the roadside. In any of these cases you won’t leave the station with a ticket or any other document indicating you got a DUI, and you may wonder if you are actually being charged. This is because the police and prosecutor are waiting for the results of the blood sample to know which level, if any, of DUI crime they can charge. If you were involved in a case like this, you might be left wondering when you should hire an attorney.

How long will it take for me to find out whether charges will be filed?

If you have been charged with a crime in Michigan, you will have to decide if you should plead guilty or go to trial. You should make this decision only with the assistance of your Michigan criminal lawyer, who can explain to you the advantages of the plea offer and contrast them with the advantages or disadvantages of trial. Once you’ve made your decision to plead guilty, your case will be set for a plea hearing. This is when the court will take your plea, and after which your case will be set for sentencing.

Prior to your court hearing you may be asked to review and sign a plea form. In federal court this is referred to as a Rule 11 agreement. Most, but not all, state courts also use written plea forms. When used, plea forms set forth the terms of the plea and usually include a recitation of any possible sentence. If yours is a state case, and there is a Cobbs agreement, then this sentencing agreement will also appear on the plea form. Your signed plea agreement will be provided to the court and the judge will confirm that your signature appears on this document.

As it relates to the plea hearing itself, there are two parts to any plea; the first is the advice of rights, and the second is the factual basis. With the advice of rights, the court’s primary interest is to confirm, through question and answer, that you understand all the constitutional rights you give up by pleading guilty. Most state district courts will use standard form 213, which you are often asked to sign at your arraignment. These constitutional rights include all your trial rights and include the following:

Can Drunk Driving be Charged as Murder in Michigan Where Death Occurs?

Whenever a death occurs at the hands of another, a prosecutor must decide how to charge the wrongdoer. In several Michigan cases involving intoxicated drivers where a death has occurred prosecutors have successfully charged murder. Generally, the appropriate charge is OWI causing death, which is punishable by up 15 years in prison. See MCL Sec. 257.625, et. seq. However, if a prosecutor can show that a driver had the appropriate mindset, then this charge can be raised to second degree murder, which is punishable by up to life in prison. See MCL Sec. 750.317.

Each crime is made up of elements, and an important element in a murder charge relates to the element of criminal intent. Consequently, in a murder case, the prosecutor will be focused on evaluating any evidence suggesting the wrongdoer’s state of mind, or what we lawyer’s call “mens rea.”

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