Articles Posted in Criminal Penalties

A question the criminal defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm are often asked by their client’s is whether it would be beneficial to begin in therapy. Although the question is typically offered in the context of “will it help my case” or “will it make me look better in front of the judge or prosecutor” this is only one aspect that underlies this question.

We have found that many persons involved in allegedly criminal behavior are doing so as an outgrowth or sublimation of an ongoing and improperly treated mental health issue. In the case of an allegation of intoxicated or drunk driving the individual may be suffering from an unmitigated substance use disorder. In such a case, the substance use disorder may be a further sublimation of a mood or personality disorder. On the other hand, a person accused of receiving, distributing, or producing child pornography may have themselves been abused as children or suffer from an addiction to pornography. These are just two examples of how the alleged criminal behavior is really a manifestation or symptom of something else.

Understanding the complexity of the issue, the criminal defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm often interview our clients with an ear toward thinking of what additional services might benefit them. If we believe that therapy will help them improve their lives, we will often make referrals to various mental health individuals or group centers. In doing so we are seeking primarily to help fulfill the Firm’s mission, which is to help our client’s win back their lives.

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.

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:

After a Michigan drunk driving arrest, the first thing on many people’s minds is: will I lose my job?  A recent story in the Detroit Free Press details how for many, the unfortunate answer is yes.

As the article explains, a public safety director for a city in Michigan was placed on leave because of an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charge. Even though the case hasn’t concluded, the officer is already facing consequences for the OWI charge. The final “verdict” on this officer’s job status could depend not just on the result of the case but also how the officer handles himself before the case is finalized.

The Michigan DUI lawyers are the Barone Defense Firm always discuss this issue with clients immediately after they have retained the Firm. It is important to address this issue at the beginning rather than at the end of a case because getting ahead of the issue can help our client’s save their jobs. There are several things to consider including:

George Tompkins , a Texas pharmacist from Houston, was recently given a 10-year prison term after a jury convicted him of multiple felony counts, including health care fraud, money laundering and wire fraud.  Known as the “compound king”, the 75-year-old was also convicted of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks.  Mr. Tomkins was first arraigned on the 17-count indictment back in February 2018.

The evidence received by the court during the 6-day jury trial suggested that Mr. Tompkins, working with others, devised a health care prescription fraud scheme whereby they unlawfully received almost twenty-two million dollars in government payments for prescriptions that were medically unnecessary. The money was paid to Tomkins by the Department of Labor, and most of the prescriptions were given to patients referred to them by and through their contract to provide such services to state and federal employees. The payments were contracted through the Federal Employees Compensation Act program (FECA).  Many hundreds of patients were involved in this prescription fraud scheme.

To assist in their criminal enterprise, Mr. Tompkins and his cohorts created a couple different shell companies through which much of the fraud was run.  They used these companies to launder their ill-gotten proceeds. Part of the fraud involved continuing to ship prescriptions to their “patients” even after they had repeatedly been told to stop sending them.

The short answer is yes. There is no Michigan law specifically on this topic and the existing laws in Michigan do not otherwise preclude the wearing of a Covid-19 facemask while otherwise carrying a firearm in Michigan.

In Michigan, the Covid-19 Pandemic has brought significant changes and restrictions to Michiganders.  One of the often-debated pandemic guidelines is the requirement to wear a facemask. Currently, there is no absolute rule on the facemask requirement, and the guidelines on this topic vary between counties, municipalities, stores, and restaurants to wear facemasks.  While the actual scientific merits of the facemask requirements may remain up for debate, it also leads to significant questions of legality.

One of the questions frequently asked of the Michigan Gun Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm is whether a person carrying a firearm can do so legally while wearing a facemask.  Obviously, wearing a facemask while carrying a pistol into the local Kroger feels like you are going to rob the place, but is it illegal?

Immediately upon your arrest for DUI in Michigan the arresting officer notified the Secretary of State. This happens when the arresting officer destroys your plastic license and prepares a DI-177, which is entitled “Breath Blood or Urine Report Michigan Temporary Driving Permit.”  This document becomes your paper license and you will use it to drive until you are convicted or until your case is dismissed.  A DI-177 is only prepared if you agree to take a breath or blood test when asked by the arresting officer.

If you refused to submit to a breath or blood test then the officer will prepare a DI-93, which is entitled “Report of Refusal.” This too becomes your paper license but is only good for 14 days or until after you win your appeal hearing. Because you are not allowed to refuse a breath or blood test your license will be suspended for a year unless your Michigan DUI lawyer demands a hearing within this 14-day period.

Both the DI-93 and the DI-177 are filed with the State of State, and your driving record will reflect this fact.  This means that even before you are convicted of anything in Michigan your driving record will reflect that you have been arrested under the suspicion of drunk driving. All of this applies for any kind of intoxicated driving including driving under the influence of marijuana.

One of the many unintended consequences of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic may well be a significant increase in financial fraud. This is due in part to the central banks lowering of the prime interest rate to zero percent. With money this “cheap” companies and individuals are encouraged to borrow money, which is all well and good until the money must be repaid. And when money is cheap, individuals may use the money they have borrowed recklessly, taking greater risks of loss.

Financial fraud occurs when an individual or corporation offers to provide goods, services, or financial benefits knowing that that these things do not and may never exist. In these situations, the victims of financial fraud trade money for these benefits, but never receive what’s been promised to them.  This is because the perpetrators of the financial fraud know that the benefits  do not exist, were never intended to be provided, or were misrepresented. Typically, victims give money but never receive what they paid for.

Possibly the most famous historical example of financial fraud occurred in the 1870s and is referred to as a “Ponzi scheme.”  Charles Ponzi was a businessman and financier who created the Securities and Exchange Company.  Using this as a front to defraud, Mr. Ponzi took money from investors, and then, after a mere 45 days, promised to return to them a 50% profit.  Trouble was that the money was never “invested.” Ponzi simply took the new money he was being paid today to pay off the older investors.  Also called a “pyramid scheme” a Ponzi scheme can only last so long, and like all Ponzi schemes, it eventually collapsed.

If you are convicted of DUI in Michigan, then your driver’s license will either be restricted, suspended, or revoked. The exact driver license sanction will depend on the nature of your DUI conviction and your prior record. Driver license sanctions for DUI range anywhere from a 90-day restricted license to a 5-year hard revocation. These sanctions are not imposed until after you are convicted. A conviction occurs when you either plead guilty to an intoxicated or impaired driving or are found guilty by a judge or jury.

The specific driver license sanction depends on the nature of your conviction, the number of prior offenses you have, and when those prior offenses occurred.  The following is a brief explanation of these driver license sanctions:

First Offense Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)

A Michigan chef has been accused of domestic violence by at least 7 different women, the Detroit News has reported. The Macomb County prosecuting attorney has charged him in at least one case involving his former wife.

According to Michigan domestic violence lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm, the term “domestic violence” refers to a specific kind of assault and/or battery; one where the accused has or had a domestic relationship or dating relationship of some kind with the alleged victim. Specifically, the applicable Michigan Compiled Laws section 750.81 provides that a domestic violence occurs when an individual assaults or assaults and batters any of the following:

  • Someone to whom they are or were married,
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