Criminal Law & DUI
Use Google Map Below for Directions to Our Office
Q. Can I be arrested if my dog gets off his leash? Believe it or not, you could get arrested if your dog gets off his leash – even just once!
Northville Township recently amended its own “dog at large” ordinance to reduce the offense from a 90-day-arrestable misdemeanor to a civil infraction for a first offense. Other places you’re not so lucky. Have you checked your local dog rules? Under Michigan law, the owner of any dog found to be “running at large” can be arrested and charged with a State misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days in the county jail! An uncertain standard easily suspect to abuse of discretion. These seemingly “minor infractions” can carry tough unexpected penalties including a criminal conviction on your public record.
Q. Can I really go to jail for Hunting on my own property? Whether you’re rural or local, it can be illegal for you to hunt on your own property. Even though you own the land and are properly licensed to hunt, you could still be arrested and criminally charged for hunting on your own property. Your land may be private, but hunting on your land is regulated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources . And if you’re charged by a Michigan DNR Conservator Officer with a hunting or fishing violation, you could go to jail for a mandatory 5 days minimum, as well as paying thousands of dollars in court costs and penalties.
Pro Tip: Renew your permits; know what’s in season; wear the right colors (hunter orange and COMING SOON hunter pink too!); use the right gear; and check your local ordinances. Got Questions? Take a Shot. Call our office to speak with one of our experienced Michigan Department of Natural Resources Lawyers.
Q. What are School Crimes? What happens when my kid is questioned at school? Any crime that is committed on school property, within a certain proximity to a school, or involving or relating to a teacher or student is a School Crime. For example, drug possession, underage drinking, fighting and violent behavior, destruction of property, and stealing are all School Crimes. If your son or daughter is suspected of committing a school crime, a parent or legal guardian must be present during any questioning.
Parents should always consult with an attorney to properly gauge the severity of the situation and how best to proceed. Not only does the student risk being charged in a juvenile or adult court, but as a collateral consequence, administrative sanctions from the school can include anything from a “warning” for violating the student Code of Conduct, up to an academic expulsion from the school district. This can negatively impact college prospects, financial aid, and access to student housing.
Pro Tip: If your son or daughter is being questioned by school officials, you should contact one of our firm’s experienced School Crime Lawyers.
Q. Is there a better time to be in court, morning or afternoon? What time is court? Most courts usually have a morning and an afternoon docket or schedule each day. The types of cases can vary, as some district courts commonly schedule their criminal cases in the morning and civil matters in the afternoon. The scheduling varies from court to court, but ultimately your case could be heard at either time of day – and it’s important to consider how the timing of the day could factor into your chances for success in court. Just like the blades of grass on the putting green of a golf course, the breaks and turns of a bustling courthouse change throughout the day. After all, the court is filled with people – good ones, bad ones, tired ones, and everything in between – and all those people can ultimately impact the patience, compassion, and consideration of each judge. Sometimes it’s best to strike early; to make sure you’re there on time for whatever consideration the court may have for the day. Other times, an afternoon case can allow you to be more prepared with the benefit of a smaller peanut gallery.
Pro Tip: If court is in the morning or afternoon, don’t be late – ever! You only get one chance to make a first impression. Arrive early, come prepared, and show that you care about what’s happening.
Q. Can I get arrested for smoking a vape in school? Yes, possession of any form of tobacco or tobacco infused products is a criminal offense under Michigan law. While you may not be daunted by a “underage tobacco” ticket, you also run the risk of additional school sanctions from suspension to expulsion, as well as landing on the school’s radar as a “problem student.” Just to be clear, you cannot bring your vape to school, use your vape at school, or attempt to sell or buy a vape at school.
Q. What happens if you get caught having sex in the park bathrooms?
Like all good real estate: location, location, location! There’s a time and place for everything – public park restrooms and warming houses are not that place. The rumors are true on this one. People have been hooking up in our county parks before they even became parks. Still, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department has not been a benefactor on this one and local law enforcement doesn’t mind being left out. Coincidentally, common tickets given in the area of these restrooms and warming houses include Prostitution, Solicitation of Prostitution, Loitering in a Known Place of Prostitution, an array of Lewdness/Indecent Exposure/Proximity to children/buses/schools ones too.
Pro-Tip: Don’t park if you’re looking for your next ‘collision’. You can stop to “wash your hands” at the gas station down the road – where there’s cameras.
Q. How much money do you make in prison? Prisoners won’t be receiving W-2s, but they still receive wages in kind; in prison, the currency for freedom is “good time.” The way to “good time” is “in-prison good behavior.” Those daily chores can translate to days, months, and eventually years off of an inmate’s sentence. But, “good time” isn’t always easily earned and it can be taken away. Various prison rule infractions can pile up over time and outbalance the “good time” served. The average cost of a state prisoner ranges between the 20,000-40,000 per inmate, per year. If Johnny Prisoner gets 2 years chipped off a 5 year sentence, his “good time” just earned him $40,000-80,000 in freedom.
Q. If I just show up and plea guilty, will I automatically get probation? Even if you have a clean record with no prior criminal charges against you, there’s no guarantee you’ll end up with only probation. The reason is, that probation is a matter of grace (a privilege) the court grants to an offender where the circumstances surrounding the crime dictate that the person not suffer the penalty otherwise imposed by law (i.e., jail). There are many factors the court considers in deciding whether or not to grant probation over jail. Probation is a rehabilitative sanction and jail is a purely punitive sanction. This means that if the decision is made to grant someone probation, then the court is of the opinion that this person does not pose such a danger to society that to release them back into the community would do more harm than good, and that by allowing this person to serve a period of probation they will also benefit from community-based rehabilitative services designed to educate, treat, and correct the behavior or underlying issues that contributed to their crime.
The duration and scope of probation should be tailored to the specific needs of the offender and not just a boilerplate stencil. That’s where having the right attorney by your side can make all the difference. Even if you are fortunate enough to receive probation – what good is it if the probation conditions set you up for failure? Probation should only be as long as is necessary to accomplish the rehabilitative goals appropriate for that specific person. Everyone should not get the “same thing.” That’s where Kelly & Kelly, P.C. steps in! Call our firm today to learn more about how to make probation work for YOU!
Q. Will the court find out about my out of state tickets? Prior tickets you received outside of the State of Michigan may still be available to the police and the court when a background check is run in connection with a present Michigan offense. Depending on the state, the type of offense, how long ago the offense occurred, and the method used to record that offense by the out-of-state court, your prior tickets will likely still follow you.
However, there are circumstances when an old ticket (think 1970s/1980s) does not show up on your criminal background search. The reason may be that the method used for recording that ticket was not electronic and the files may have been purged over time. That doesn’t mean, however, that your out-of-state ticket won’t be a factor for the prosecutor, judge, or probation officer to consider. Aside from a criminal history report generated through law enforcement databases, your background and prior offense history still must pass the inquiries of the Judge (“Have you ever been arrested before? You’re under oath.”) or the probation officer during a Pre-Sentence Interview.
Never lie to a judge! And it’s a dangerous game playing chicken with a probation officer. Rather than run the risk of getting burned, I instruct my clients to answer truthfully the questions asked – but avoid providing any unnecessary dialogue. If this is an issue you are currently facing, it is important for you to contact an attorney and determine what exactly appears on a public records search and whether your out-of-state tickets will impact your Michigan court case.
Q. I left my license at home, if I get pulled over, will the cop arrest me? In order to drive a motor vehicle on any Michigan public roads and highways, a driver must possess a valid driver’s license and proof of vehicle registration and insurance. If you are stopped and don’t have your driver’s license physically on you, then you could be charged with a Misdemeanor criminal violation for “Failed to Display a Valid License.” The ticket is 0 points, but as a Misdemeanor, it is an arrestable offense. Even if the cop does not elect to arrest you, you will still be required to appear in court and, if convicted, the charge will be reported on both your public criminal record and your master driving record.
Pro-Tip: Be cordial with the police officer and explain the situation if it was an honest mistake. Don’t argue about the ticket, save that for your attorney. By going to court on the ticket, you and your attorney have the opportunity to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney to settle the case in a more reasonable fashion. Call our office and let’s keep things in perspective so you don’t end up having a criminal record for forgetting your wallet at home.
Q. What happens if I drink when the judge told me not to? Whether you’ve been formally Sentenced or know you’ll be in front of a judge soon, each contact you have with the court can come with conditions attached. “Bond conditions “come on at the beginning of the case when you’ve been Arraigned (whether in person, via video conference, or in-writing thru your attorney*)). Any time you go before a judge he or she could order you to not drink (until the next court appearance or until the end of your probation). IF YOU DRINK, it looks bad in 1 of 2 ways: either you don’t care about the judge’s order or you have a more serious substance abuse issue that now is picked up on the court’s radar. This could end up costing you your life – with sanctions stemming from a loss of bond money and incarceration.
Pro-Tip: Find a solution quick! Let’s get to the heart of it and get a game plan in place before you answer those tough questions.
Q. Will my insurance find out about my car accident? While an attorney may help you avoid the points and licensing sanctions on your driver's license, your insurance company will likely still find out about the accident and adjust your rates according to your policy. The reality is that insurance companies have evolved with the modern technology available and there's now quicker and more accessible information out there. You may have zero points, but your insurance may still charge you for the accident.
Pro-Tip: Your insurance company should find out first from you, but your first phone call should always be to your lawyer.
Q. Are my Snapchats really private? The appeal of Snapchat is that it provides a way to send and receive pictures and/or videos that should disappear after the recipient opens and views the content.
Unless you’ve taken the time to read the most recent version of Snapchat Guide for Law Enforcement (available here at: https://storage.googleapis.com/snap-inc/privacy/lawenforcement.pdf) then you probably have no idea the risk involved in sending and/or receiving potentially incriminating messages. The reality is, however, that many aspects of the Snapchat App are not as private as you’d think.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Snapchat retains copies of your Snaps for 30 days, so long as they’ve yet to be viewed by all the recipients of your Snaps – and thus, Snapchat can provide these “un-opened” Snaps to law enforcement if in response to a certain types of legal processes, including subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants.
- Snapchat keeps records of “meta data” (i.e., the user name(s), e-mail, phone number, timestamp and IP addresses, and other account information) for all Snapchat accounts sending or receiving the messages.
- The pictures and videos (content) of the a users Snapchats may also discoverable by law enforcement, but only in limited circumstances and only in response to a valid federal or state search warrant.
Q. Can police see my Snapchats? Only in certain limited circumstances may Snapchat be able to provide copies of your Snaps to the police. Snapchat content is deleted from the Snapchat servers once all recipients of your Snaps have viewed it. In the event a Snap remains unopened by the person you sent it to, it will be deleted automatically 30 days after it was sent. Depending on which function of Snapchat you use (My Story, Chat, or My Memories), the time period for retaining those records is different.
For example, Story content published on Snapchat may be available for up to 24 hours, or until deleted by a user.Chat content may be kept temporarily by Snapchat, but only if the sender or recipient chooses to save the Chat, or if the Chat is unopened. My Memories content may be available to police but only until deleted by a user. Basic User Information entered by the user in creating a Snapchat account is retained by Snapchat indefinitely, as long as the user has not edited the information or removed the information from the account. Once a user makes changes to their User Information, the previously existing information is overwritten. Log Information of Snaps sent/received is also kept by Snapchat, but only for the previous 31 days of Snaps – the content of the Snaps, however, may not be available if the message has been opened or the Story post has expired.
Although Snapchat has taken some great initiatives to protect its users’ privacy, the real risk remains with the audience or recipients of the Snaps or messages you send. Screenshots of your Snaps can still preserve the content and allow it to be shared with law enforcement or elsewhere online.
Pro-Tip: Don’t send Snaps you wouldn’t want the police to see. Keep your “friends” limited and don’t publish sensitive content to Stories that can be viewed by “not really your friends.” If you do have a concern about how your Snaps have been shared or used by law enforcement, call our office to speak with one of our experienced Social Media Crime Attorneys.