Articles Posted in DUI Trials

The short and simple answer is that questions of law are for the judge to decide whereas questions of fact are for the jury to decide.  However, while technically correct, this short answer is incomplete.  Especially if you are charged with a crime like OWI Michigan.

Learn the difference betweek drunk driving and OWI Michigan.
One reason this explanation is incomplete is because it ignores the issue of jury nullification where judges are thought to be “judges of the law.” However this is a complicated and controversial topic, and beyond the scope of this article. To learn more about jury nullification, see; What is Jury Nullification and is it Lawful in Michigan?

What Is a Question of Law and Who Decides These Questions?

This article covers only the steps in DUI/OWI case that take place in court after a lawyer has been retained.

The first step in a Michigan drunk driving case is an arraignment on the warrant, ticket, complaint or information.  At the arraignment, a plea of not guilty will be entered on your behalf and the judge or magistrate will set a bond. Your case will then be set for a pretrial.

A pretrial conference or hearing will occur at your next appearance in court which is usually roughly three or four weeks after the arraignment.  Depending on the court and the prosecutor this may be the first time your lawyer can review all of the evidence against you. You will have four choices at a pretrial, and your lawyer should discuss them with you prior to the pretrial conference so that you know what to expect and how to proceed.

Michigan criminal defense lawyer explains arraignment or first court date in Michigan criminal cases.
The criminal arraignment in Michigan is your first court date. In all criminal cases you have an absolute right to an arraignment. This is an “absolute right” because it is protected by the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment. This Amendment reads in part “in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.”

Will I Learn What Criminal Charges I Face at My First Court Date?

The “nature and cause of the accusation” is set forth in a document called a complaint. The complaint sets forth the criminal charges. If you were given a ticket, such as in an OWI arrest, a complaint will be issued by the prosecutor before you are arraigned.

Penalties for DUI in Michigan, top dui lawyer Michigan, Michigan DUI Lawyers, laws, driver licenseIn a Michigan operating while intoxicated case, also called OWI/DUI, the penalties will be based on the severity and nature of the offense, and your prior record. Possible penalties include jail time, license suspension or revocation, fines, costs, community service and probation.

How Much Jail Time Will I Get?

A person convicted of a first offense OWI in Michigan is subject to not more than 93 days in jail. A second offense within 7 years is subject to as much as one-year in jail, and a felony third offense drunk driving is subject to 5 years in jail. You should know that even if you’re looking at a felony drunk driving it is possible to avoid jail time.

The Best Drunk Driving Lawyers in Michigan Have One Thing in Common

Patrick Barone is well-known in Michigan as a tough criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Barone is an expert OWI lawyer who has helped hundreds of people facing the same nightmare.Patrick Barone is well-known in Michigan as a tough criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Barone is an expert OWI lawyer who has helped hundreds of people facing the same nightmare.

Expertise is the one thing the best drunk driving lawyers in Michigan have in common. Trouble is, non-lawyers can’t easily separate the best from the fakers. And fakers are takers. They take a large legal fee based on their “expertise,” then they under-perform, leaving you to pay the bill.

Why Does Michigan’s Law of Implied Consent Exist?

The first DUI laws went in the books all the way back in the 1950s when cars where just starting to become very common. Back then, there were no breath tests, so that law enforcement tool in a DUI investigation was not available to police officers. That only happened ten years later, in the 1960s. Technology has improved a lot since then, and the law has changed too, because the law of implied consent is younger than the first breath tests. Back in the “olden days” people could refuse a breath test in a drunk driving case without an possible sanction. That is no longer true, and today, there are serious consequences if you unreasonably refuse to to a breath test.

The Michigan Law of Implied Consent

Michigan Drunk Driving Lawyer Explains Proximate Causation

Michigan DUI lawyer Patrick Barone knows Michigan DUI law and how to beat a DUI.Patrick Barone, considered by many to be among the best DUI lawyers in Michigan, has indicated that a drunk driving causing death case is one of the most difficult kinds of criminal law cases to defend. The concept of proximate causation is one of the reasons these cases are so difficult and complicated.

What is Proximate Cause?

Being charged with a crime is most certainly one of the most traumatic events you can experience, and then attempting to retain the right attorney or law firm might also feel like a daunting task. The Criminal Defense Trial Attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm understand that difficulty and that trauma, therefore we want to address some important factors in hiring the right trial attorney for your case.

Trial is an Endangered Species

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) recently published a report that 3% of all criminal cases in State and Federal Court are resolved through Trial compared to 20% of cases from 30 years ago. A related article lists that some of the reasons for this decrease include fear of what is known as a trial penalty or trial tax, meaning a worse sentence after a loss at trial. This is balanced against the fact that a lesser sentence can be arranged as part of a plea agreements. Certainly, another reason is the lack of ability or lack of experience of the trial attorney themselves.  The very fact fewer cases reach trial every year is reason enough to seek an attorney that does not have significant trial experience, and who will not be afraid to go to trial.

Michigan’s Super Drunk Driving Law went into effect on October 31, 2010.  It created enhanced punitive and driver license sanctions for Michigan drunk drivers with a Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) of .17 gerams % or above. It only applies to first offense drunk driving as penalties and driver license sanctions for second or subsequent offenses remain unchanged and more punitive than for super drunk driving. This is true even for repeat offenders with BACs at or above .17 grams %.

What Are the Penalties for High BAC Super Drunk Driving in Michigan?

The Michigan Super Drunk Driving Law adds extra penalties if your BAC is 0.17 or hgher.
Michigan drivers found or pleading guilty to a High BAC super drunk driving face an array of serious punishments and consequences, including potentially more time in jail and less time on the road.

The black letter law in Michigan suggests that juries have the power but not the right to exercise jury nullification.[i] Nevertheless, the practice of law is all shades of gray, and the arguments made by lawyers are often in the penumbras of black letter law.

For example, some Michigan cases have indicated that nullification may be argued where nullification is a recognized legal defense. Because a trial judge may exclude a defense attorney from presenting to the jury evidence supporting a defense that has not been recognized by the legislature[ii], the judge can preclude a lawyer from arguing for nullification.

This does not mean that the power of nullification can be taken away from the jury, and a judge cannot explicitly tell a jury that they are precluded from exercising jury nullification. In one Michigan case where a judge told the jury that jury nullification was inconsistent with the recognized power of the jury, the verdict of guilty was reversed.[iii]  In support of their reversal, the court indicate that:

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