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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.”

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:

Recently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency completed a sweep that lead to arrests of 24 people in Michigan convicted of various crimes. It is no secret that the Trump administration has taken a tough stance on immigration. As a result, there has been a focus by the Trump administration on deporting non-citizens with certain kinds of criminal convictions.

What kinds of convictions can lead to deportation?

Federal law says that a non-citizen can be deported for conviction of a “crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony.” A crime of moral turpitude is one that involves a depraved or immoral act, or a violation of the basic duties owed to fellow man, or a “reprehensible act” with a mens rea of at least recklessness. In practice, this means crimes involving fraud, intentional serious injury, intentional death, destruction of property, malicious destruction of property, and intentional permanent taking of valuable property are deportable. This, of course, encompasses many possible crimes.

WWMT reporter Sam Knef recently contacted Patrick Barone, Michigan Gun Crimes lawyer at the Barone Defense Firm, to discuss Michigan’s self-defense laws. These laws are complicated and often misunderstood by the public, and Mr. Knef wanted to help his audience understand what is and is not legal in the State of Michigan.

In these tumultuous and chaotic times of pandemic and protest, the topic of self-defense is on people’s minds today more than ever. People around the Country are wondering what their right to self defense is if a protestor or anyone breaks into their home.  And what happens if you’re driving and you’re suddenly surrounded by angry protestors?  To address these concerns, Mr. Barone explains Michigan’s self defense laws, including the castle doctrine and the stand your ground law.  The title of Mr. Knef’s article is Lawyer explains Michigan’s castle doctrine law: When you can and can’t shoot an intruder.

The self-defense laws in Michigan consist of protections covering what happens both inside and outside a person’s residence, business or car. When dealing with self-defense in all places other than a person’s home business or motor vehicle, Michigan’s Stand your Ground law applies.  Based on this law, a person may use deadly force if they honestly and reasonably believe that they or another person are in imminent danger of death, serious bodily injury or sexual assault.  There is no duty to retreat, but an ability to retreat may impact on how the determination of reasonableness is made by a police officer, prosecutor, judge or jury.

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