Articles Posted in Firm News

The Barone Defense Firm is pleased to announce that Madeline Barone will be attending Northwestern Pritzker School of Law this fall. Madeline is currently a paralegal at the firm.

Northwestern Law School, located in Chicago, Illinois, was founded in 1859. Since that time, Northwestern has continued to develop its standing as an elite law school, consistently being ranked among the nation’s top law schools. For example, Northwestern is a T-14 law school, meaning it is consistently among the top 14 law schools that are ranked in U.S. News & World Report. In fact, the law schools listed in T-14 are the only schools to have ever been in the top 10. Because of their high status, graduates of T-14 law schools are typically employed in the highest levels of government, the most prestigious Big Law firms, or hold C-level positions at Fortune 500 corporations. Madeline intends to pursue Northwestern’s Environmental Law concentration with the goal of future leadership in international environmental law and governmental policy.

Madeline began pursuing a career in environmental law as an undergraduate student. She is a 2019 honors graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.S. in Psychology. She also is well-versed in Mandarin Chinese, with six years of formal Mandarin education. Due to her diverse academic background, Madeline is hoping to combine her knowledge of the environmental and energy sector with her Mandarin language skills to specialize in international environmental law.

At the Southfield Freeway exit on Eastbound I-96, there is a large billboard selling Byrna Pepper Balls as a self-defense method.  The pepper-filled paintballs are fired by a launcher that is essentially a pistol-shaped paintball gun.  The billboard states, “Works Like a Gun, Without the Consequences.”  However, it misses the severe consequence that, under Michigan law, it is a 5-year felony to possess these cartridges.

Specifically, Michigan Compiled Laws sec. 750.224(1)(e) prohibits any cartridge designed to render a person disabled by the ejection, release, or emission of a gas or other substance.  The pepper balls are clearly a cartridge designed to disable by the release of a substance.  This easily meets the prohibition under that section.

The penalty for violation of this law is up to five years in a state prison or a fine of up to $2,500.00, or both.  That means, if you are convicted of simply possessing pepper balls, you can be charged with a felony.  A felony on your record would prevent you from ever exercising your 2nd Amendment Rights. This significant consequence is not well known and many gun stores in Michigan carry pepper balls.  Byrna will even ship the pepper-balls to you, making it as easy as possible to break Michigan law.

The Michigan DUI Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm had be advising our clients that if they were convicted of operating while intoxicated they should expect to be placed on a term of probation. However, in March 2021 the Michigan legislature passed new and amended laws that focused on Criminal Justice Reform, and specifically provided that non-serious misdemeanors should not be ordered to jail, nor ordered to probation.  Michigan Compiled Laws Sec. 769.5(3) further clarifies that the appropriate sentence for these non-serious misdemeanors would be a fine, community service, or other non-jail and non-probation sentence. On this basis one might assume, therefore,that a qualifying Michigan drunk driving charge would not receive probation.

This despite the fact that the statutory penalties for a first offense Michigan DUI could include a maximum fine of $700, 360 hours of community service, and other non-probation or non-jail alternatives that may include counseling or rehabilitative services, and other educational programs like a Victim Impact Panel.  The maximum period of probation would be 24 months of probation, and the maximum jail term would be 180 days if a High BAC, or 93 days in an OWI or Impaired Driving.

This criminal justice reform measure appears to address these statutory penalties to allow offenders to avoid the probation and jail aspects of the case.

Barone Defense Firm Partner Michael Boyle recently obtained a great result for a client charged with several gun and assault crimes. But that wasn’t the end of the story. It was only the beginning.

A Judge told my client he’s lucky. Is he right?

Imagine you are charged with a combination of three felony gun and assault crimes. Next imagine that if you’re convicted of these crimes, you’re facing a possible total sentence of 8 years in prison. And on top of that, you could also end up having to pay several thousand dollars in fines and costs. Now, imagine that after facing all that, you end up with two misdemeanors, no jail time and a small fine. Sound good? The Judge presiding over the case thought so. He told our client he was “lucky” to have gotten such a great deal. But was it luck, or was it the result of hard work and good lawyering?

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.

On February 4, 2022, Michigan DUI Lawyers Ryan Ramsayer and Michael Boyle will present The ABC’s of OWI Expungement. The seminar his hosted by the Michigan Association of OWI Lawyers and will be presented via zoom. The cost to attend this seminar is $75.00 and is open to all lawyers wishing to learn about Michigan’s new DUI expungement law.

The seminar will be led by Barone Defense Firm senior associate Ryan Ramsayer and will be moderated by Michael Boyle, who is a partner at the Firm.  Mr. Boyle is also a is a Board member with the seminar’s host, the Michigan Association of OWI Lawyers.

Michigan’s new DUI expungement has an effective date of February 19th, and this will allow most people convicted of a first offense drunk driving offense to request that their conviction be expunged. It is expected that winning expungement in many courts will be a daunting prospect, and not one that should be undertaken without significant knowledge of the law combined with thorough and informed preparation together with a deft courtroom presentation. Mr. Ramsayer will be covering all these topics, and more, at the OWI expungement seminar.

Senior Trial Attorney Michael J. Boyle of the Barone Defense Firm recently presented on the Michigan Self Defense Laws at the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) Fall Conference at Boyne Mountain. At the seminar Mike discussed, described, and distinguished between Michigan’s Castle Doctrine and Michigan’s Stand Your Ground Laws. The title of his presentation was: Defending Self-Defense: Understanding Stand Your Ground, the Castle Doctrine, and Defending the Victim.

This topic and presentation were unique at CDAM and covered an area of criminal defense law that has rarely been presented in any significance in any forum. In addition to the didactic portion of the lecture Boyle also offered a trial skills portion which allowed those present to take what they’d just learned, assimilate it, and practice using the information on a “real” sample case.

In preparing for his lecture, Mike utilized both the knowledge he’s gained over the years handling these kinds of cases as well as his trial skills expertise. In addition to decades of trial practice where Mike honed his own trial skills, he is also a graduate of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College.

Barone Defense Firm Partner and Senior Trial Attorney Michael J. Boyle recently was one of the guest presenters at the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) Fall Conference at Boyne Mountain.  The annual seminar was attended by hundreds of criminal defense attorneys from throughout the State of Michigan. CDAM is one of the largest and well-respected membership groups in the State and is dedicated to the improvement of criminal advocacy across all practice areas in the criminal justice system.

Boyle accepted the invitation to speak and was the only attorney that presented on two topics.  He presented on Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, known as SCRAM, and he also did a presentation on Self-Defense and understanding Michigan’s Stand Your Ground and the Castle Doctrines.

Boyle has enjoyed the opportunity over the last several years to be part of the process of educating and teaching other lawyers the complex understanding and best practice techniques in representing clients on multiple disciplines. He has presented on numerous occasions for the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys (MIAOWIA), the State Bar of Michigan Marijuana Law Section, CDAM, and the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL).

We are often asked this question; how do I find a top rated DUI lawyer in Michigan.  We always answer this question the same way – there is only one way to find a top rated Michigan DUI lawyer, and that is by finding one who has honestly and objectively developed the reputation.  And there’s only one way to do that, and that one way is the hard way. Michigan DUI lawyers who are truly top rated must earn it. It’s easy for a lawyer to post on a website  “best DUI lawyer in Michigan,” it’s quite another to spend decades doing the hard work to earn this distinction. And then to be recognized by one’s peers for having earned it.

So how does a DUI lawyer become recognized as one of the best? Considering the subject matter, earning the reputation requires dedication, focus and a commitment to excellence. Dedication is required due to the complexity of the subject matter. The top Michigan DUI lawyers must dedicate themselves to learning the science of infrared breath testing and gas chromatography blood testing. Most lawyers attend law school after first obtaining an undergraduate degree in a related field of study, such as political science, English or philosophy. Few lawyers have science degrees, and the old joke among lawyers is “I went to law school because I wasn’t good at math.”

A science education is helpful because DUI cases with drugs or alcohol almost always involve a chemical test of the driver’s breath blood or urine. The science behind this testing must be understood because without it a lawyer cannot adequately represent his slash her client in court. If you can’t beat the test, you can’t win the case.

Michigan drivers arrested under suspicion of intoxicated driving will have their bodily drug and alcohol levels tested by the police. When drugs including marijuana are suspected, and in some cases involving alcohol, the police will take and test a blood sample. The forensic method used for blood testing is considerably more complicated than breath testing, and many lawyers wrongly believe that DUI cases involving blood tests can’t be defended. The Michigan DUI lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm however believe that in some ways blood test cases are easier to defend. This belief is born out of a comprehensive knowledge about this complex scientific method.

To help other lawyers understand forensic blood testing in DUI cases, the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys (MIAOWIA) periodically presents seminars on this topic. Barone Defense Firm founding attorney Patrick Barone, and Partner Michael Boyle, were both closely involved in the creation of MIAOWIA, and Mr. Boyle currently serves as an officer to the group.

As an example of Mr. Boyle’s expertise as well as his commitment to helping other lawyers get better at defending Michigan DUI cases involving blood test evidence, in early October 2021, he served as a host, moderator, and presenter for the Michigan Association of OWI Seminar on Blood Alcohol.  Mr. Boyle is an original member of MIAOWIA, which is membership dedicated to the education and training of attorneys throughout the State of Michigan in the complex litigation and representation of individuals charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs.

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