4th of July Message

As America celebrates its freedom today, it is not lost on me, as I appear for bail hearings, how important it is to be the accused before a magistrate. And to have that accused represented by counsel. In the years of being ruled by a monarchy, citizens languished in Colonial jails for months without being charged, and many, even after being charged, were not afforded, counsel. 

I am proud to say I was a member of a team of shareholders that radically altered how services are rendered to the accused. In Oakland County MI, there is an attorney and magistrate available 365 days a year. 

This is what expedient due process looks like!

Knowing Whom You Really Represent

I take a lot of pride in representing some of the most marginalized people in society. One area of specialty has been dealing with the truly mentally ill (not what segments of our society like to label to rationalize the actions they take) and developmentally disabled folks. Autism falls into the latter To that extent, I have had my share of clients who fall on the spectrum and do not get that diagnosis until they are adults. The Detroit Free Press just did an article yesterday on the subject https://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2023/05/08/adult-autism-diagnosis-michigan/70169698007/

One of the God sends of the diagnosis is, for the first time, is getting an answer to things. And also a clear path of how to cope. 

From my first meeting with A.H. I knew I was dealing with an autistic adult. His mannerisms, lack of eye contact, clenching of his hands, etc. He was charged with domestic violence and the so-called victim was a “family” member. That family member preyed upon A.H.’s idiosyncrasies and pushed him too far. A.H. reacted with some assaultive behavior. Not atypical of people on the spectrum. As an aside, A.H. had some other interactions with the law and frankly, his previous lawyers should have known they were dealing with someone who was “off.” 

I informed A.H. that he needed to be tested for autism. Many doctors will not test adults because the syndrome is best detected in childhood. But as the above Freep article provides, that is changing.

Dealing with A.H., was the product of my trying to educate myself on autism as it intersects the criminal law. I read lots of journal articles in the field where law and psychology intersect. I learned, for example, autistic individuals when interviewed by the police, will agree with the accusations and even make statements in support. It is called accommodation. They want to please their inquirer and not upset him or her. Hence rendering a false confession. Some studies show that they process information differently and will adapt in a way to compensate 

There can be a large degree of substance abuse as autistic individuals get older. It is to deal with the discomfort of being in society or social settings. So a DUI charge or possession is not unheard of. 

In A.H.’s case, the diagnosis came back as suspected autism. Based on that, after a lengthy email outlining how autism would explain my client’s behavior and his statements, I was able to prevail upon the city attorney to reduce the charge to disturbing the peace with a delayed sentence. Upon completion of the period, the case would be dismissed. The judge that took the plea, referred my client to the wellness and behavior court. A voluntary program, which allowed treatment monitoring and medication compliance. Many autistic individuals take medications to deal with the mood disorders and anxieties that come with the disorder.

We returned to court today. I was not surprised that the evaluator was able to find criteria to have my client be placed in this program. The difficulty is that autism, while it may have symptoms that appear to be akin to mental health issues, it is not a mental illness under the Michigan Mental Health Code. So I advised the judge that it was basically a non-starter for us to put him in their program because he does not have a mental illness. Trust me, I wish it was. It would allow me to have a statutory defense for my cases. I had a developmentally disabled individual go to prison because DD is not in the Code and I could not even bring before the jury that my client processes information differently than others. Getting back to A.H., he consented to the program. Of course, he did, because he is an accommodator. A.H. is also able to work a job (many DDs and autistic people do. Autistic individuals tend to work alone and many employers make accommodations for them. A. H. is intelligent and an asset to his employer) and told the court he was anguished when he had to leave work to deal with probation or go to testing while the case was pending. It pended, in part, for a long time because we had to find the right assessor to diagnose his condition 

The outcome was awesome. A.H. came to court and, sadly, his autism was on full display. He had to excuse himself from the court because of the anxiety We got through it. The judge, probation and I met separately. She specifically made of finding he was of no harm to himself or others She ultimately decided he was treated in the community and did not need this specialty court. Fines and costs, case over.

I had my first exposure to mentally ill individuals when I worked as a court reporter, doing MH hearings, back in Maryland in the mid 8os. I handled this docket as a young lawyer at the beginning of my career. I feel we, who are in the criminal justice system, have to be educated on these cases. When it comes to dealing with folks with developmental disabilities we have to know their characteristic, how they might impact a case, and explain behaviors that may look criminal in nature but are not. We must prevent the police, the prosecutor, or the bench from trying to characterize them as mental health cases, even if the temptation is there. This is not a place for us to cut corners to just get the case over with. Sorry, not sorry. Great outcomes can be achieved.

Today was another day, in many, where my mission on why I became a lawyer was validated. This is not about me. My client had an individualized outcome. He has gotten better treatment to address his issues and justice was served.

 Be Ready to go when you take the case 

We assigned counsel to get a crappy rap. We are assigned by the MIDC and are independent of the court. So I got an assignment in my inbox today 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐭 𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐨𝐨𝐧. My immediate task after downloading the assignment sheet (we need certain case ID numbers to properly do further inquiry) is to fire off an email to the prosecutor discovery division to get the police report(s) and demand the recordings. I actually have a saved form for this purpose.  

On the positive, the prosecutor’s office is pretty good at getting us the police reports. Now with the assignment sheet and the report, I am now ready to speak to the client. Note the MIDC requires us to interview our clients within a reasonable time if on bond and within 3 business days if incarcerated. I work every Sat doing client-on-bond interviews. I go to jail within a day of assignment because I fought hard to help create the MIDC and feel that someone sitting in jail must know they have a lawyer.

So today, at the end of the interview, the client says what about ********? I am like who and the client says *****, the full name. Me: Oh you hired so and so. Client: Yeah and I am feeling a little confused. I probe a little further and his confusion is why this state-assigned lawyer is contacting him and he hasn’t heard boo from the dude he paid. The process of getting your discovery from the prosecutor’s office in the entire metro area is very simple.

This paid lawyer has the firm overview criteria for assessing what a good criminal defense attorney should be. One is a personal relationship between the judge and the prosecutor. I see my friend Neil Rockind cringing. Yes, I have had cases with judges who were once prosecutors. Some of us had our kids in activities together, etc. But that does not mean we are pals. Same with prosecutors. We work together and occasionally see each other in social settings. But in the courtroom we are adversaries. My dad of blessed memory taught me to “kill people with kindness” Another criterion, is being a former prosecutor. While several of my colleagues are former prosecutors, there is quadruple the amount of us who never did a day in the office. We continuously train and hone our skills and we fight There were many other criteria the lawyer posted.

My thoughts are if you take on the case, you damn better be ready. I have turned down plenty because of the calendar. And if you take a case on, you damn better be ready to discuss the matter cogently shortly after retention. If you are so connected as this lawyer claimed to be, you better be making those calls. Many of us have access to the warrants division or to a special unit prosecutor

I have no issue with lawyers retaining me. Hell, I have done it multiple times myself. Be ready Don’t make yourself look like a fool. A know because of the MIDC, a lawyer is going to be assigned because we have to be ready to go (discovery acquisition and client interview) in a very short period of time.

So when hiring a criminal defense attorney, maybe the real question is whether he or she is familiar with the particular process to get the necessary information and when can we expect it. I, on a client who is paying me, am firing off that email, for the above material, as they are finalizing the Engagement Fee “paperwork” Mine are now all electronic, but I digress.

Side note As a defense lawyer, I look forward, in light of Donald Trump’s indictment, to seeing our glorious criminal justice system on full display…

30 Years ago today . . .


I took the Oath to become a Member of the Michigan State Bar.  My mentor, Ron Bretz motioned me into the bar.

Many have often heard me say, that  I am living the ultimate “hippy” dream.  Getting paid to  go up against “the man.” All kidding aside, every day I still wake up ready, willing, and able to be a shield for someone accused of wrongdoing by the government. For years, I have carried the Criminal Defense Attorney of Michigan’s (CDAM)  highest distinction-Constitutional Warrior. I have always brought a holistic approach to my practice. That means my clients and I will interact a lot (I pride myself on being accessible and have been answering my phone directly for years), looking for solutions outside of the case, to better themselves so they will not be on my docket again. As a very young man, I was exposed that we should do for others,  hence, my docket is full of appointed cases, I also have a daily spiritual practice that guides me.

I have met some of the best people in the world. My colleagues have become my friends and I have seen many of them become judges. I respect all the shareholders in the system and know they are human like me and us.

The pandemic has allowed me to have greater respect for this profession. I and my colleagues have gone the extra length for our clients. Doing this, as we, too, are suffering a great financial impact. I remain willing to go into a courtroom and jail (we see our clients behind glass in Macomb County) if called to do so. Because someone is sitting in a cell, and as an 18-year member of the Board of Directors for CDAM, I will resist any efforts to run contested confrontation hearings by remote technology. Specifically jury trials, I fight the voice inside that sometimes rears its head, causing doubts as to whether my practice is dying a slow death.  Way too many signs from the Universe to the contrary.

Thanks for being on this ride with me . . . 

Michigan CPL no longer Qualifies as NICS

On March 3, 2020, the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) determined that the Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL) no longer qualifies as a National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) alternative permit for possessing and transporting firearms.

Read more here: https://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-1878_1591_3503_4654—,00.html

How Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do Their Job

How does a criminal defense Lawyer do their job

How does a criminal defense lawyer do their job; well everyone is entitled to have their day in court. This means that even if the client is guilty, the criminal defense lawyer must do whatever is necessary so that person will not be convicted of the crime.

How does that work? If you are a public defender, the client will be appointed and you have to meet with them. Before this person is arraigned in court, you will have time to discuss what will be their plea which will then be presented to the judge. Afterward, ample time will be given so you can conduct an investigation, review police reports, and examine the evidence to prepare you for trial.

During the trial, both sides will be able to present witnesses. Some of these are experts and after the prosecution questions this person on the stand, you will have the chance to cross-examine them and vice versa.

Before the trial starts or even during, you can try to settle this matter out of court. You have the right to accept or turn it down but you must first discuss this with your client.

When all the witnesses have spoken and the evidence has been presented, the only thing you have to work on now is your closing argument. You should summarize everything that has happened in front of the jury because the prosecution will do the same so the jury can now go to the jury room and make their decision.

How long will the jury will be deliberating is anyone’s guess. Sometimes a verdict will be announced in less than an hour while others will take longer. When the jury has returned, you will know if the jury has reached a guilty or not guilty verdict.

If the verdict is guilty, then you can appeal the decision to the higher court. If the verdict is not guilty, then your client can walk out of the courtroom as a free man.

The same thing happens when you are working for or have your own criminal defense law firm. The only difference is that clients will go up to you. When they walk in, they will want to interview you first to find out a little about you.

You should be ready to answer questions such as how long have you been a criminal defense attorney, how many cases have you won, do you go to trial often or decide to settle this matter out of court, and so on. How you answer will help them decide if they want to hire you or not.

Another difference between those who operate privately is that you can charge a certain fee for your legal services. You can charge a flat fee or on an hourly basis. This depends on you.

If you are handling a lot of cases right now, be honest with the client and tell them you can’t because you will not be able to represent them to the fullest of your ability in that condition.

So how do you a criminal defense attorney do their job? By operating on the assumption that anyone who is arrested is innocent until proven guilty. This is hard especially if you know your client did it but this is your duty as a public defender. You failed to do so will mean this person will spend the rest of their time in jail.

What A Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Do For You

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Michael L Steinberg

If you are accused of a crime in Michigan, the only person that can help you out is a Michigan criminal defense lawyer. This is because you are not familiar with how the judiciary system works which makes it hard for you to represent yourself in open court.

This is because a lot of the legal rules are hidden away in court interpretations of federal and state constitutions. A good example is whether or not the search of your home was reasonable. It can only be considered a good search if the police obtained a warrant otherwise anything found is not admissible in court.

Given that the Michigan criminal defense lawyer has crossed swords with the prosecution in the past, they are already familiar with the tactics that the opposing party will be using and be prepared for it.

As you can see, it is a very specialized field and there are many things that need to be checked out by your criminal defense lawyer before you are given a guilty or not guilty verdict.

When your case has been given to them, you will be asked what happened. You will have to give your version of the events that took place. After listening, they will provide you with a reality check especially what will happen should the case go to trial.

They will then review the police report, interview witnesses and examine the evidence. Since it is hard to look at everything on their own, they sometimes have researchers do it.

When you are arraigned in court, you are required to submit a plea. You could plead guilty or not guilty while some do not give one yet and then prepare for the trial date.

If the evidence against you is overwhelming, perhaps your criminal defense lawyer can negotiate so you can get a lighter sentence or reduced charges. This can only happen if this is your first time or you have a criminal record and you have something to trade.

For those who want to go to trail, the Michigan criminal defense lawyer will now prepare your defense. This may sometimes mean taking up your stand and telling the court the events that took place. This may be risky so before hand, you will be briefed on what to say.

Witnesses will be presented. Some of these people will be able to aid in your defense while others will be against you so another job that the criminal defense lawyer will do is cross examine them in order to cast doubt in the testimony they are giving.

The trial is almost over when the criminal defense lawyer and the prosecution give their closing arguments. The jury will then be given time to deliberate the case so you will know the verdict when they come back into the court and read it.

If you get a not guilty verdict, the Michigan criminal defense attorney was able to do their job since you are a free man. But if you are guilty, then the next step is to appeal the decision to a higher court and hopefully, they will overturn that decision.

Our justice system works, because everyone has a right to counsel and tried before their peers.

Expungement of criminal records

Expungement of criminal records

Expungement of criminal records is the process of clearing an individuals records of a crime committed. There are several other terms used to describe the expungement of criminal records. Often, it is used in correlation with sealing, destruction, or return to the subject of individual criminal records kept by government agencies.

Expungement of Criminal Records An Overview

To expunge criminal records is to involve a trade-off between competing interests. An individual would like to pursue employment, housing, or other major life activities without the stigma of an arrest record or a record of conviction. On the other hand, society has an interest in maintaining criminal records histories for purposes of future crime investigations and in order to make hiring, rental, and other decisions about individuals. Statutes and cases reflect the tension between these interests.

There are ways for you to expunge your criminal records. In reality, by statute and by inherent judicial authority, criminal records may be expunged.

What is Expungement of Criminal Records?

Expungement of criminal records can mean to seal or destroy these records, or return it to the subjects of the records. The exact remedy in a given situation depends on statutory provisions or the courts interpretation of its inherent power.

How Criminal Records are Expunged

Although states generally differ in how they expunge records, by most statutes, arrest records held by law enforcement must be returned to an arrested individual if proceedings are determined in the individuals favor before specified stages of the criminal justice process. This means that the individual has the right to have his criminal records of arrest expunged if no further evidence is found incriminating his involvement in the crime in question and if no other criminal justice action is pursued.

Also by statute, criminal records held by any criminal justice agency will be expunged or sealed by court order but not returned or destroyed. This action is often done if an individual was convicted in a kind of case covered by the specific state statute or had proceedings resolved in specified ways that fall short of conviction. Therefore, any criminal records of court filings created in a case where no conviction was made or in a case where the crime in question falls under the category specified under the statute may be expunged or sealed by the presiding court.

Finally, the courts have held that they have the power to require the sealing or expungement of judicial branch criminal records. Also, to a more limited degree, they may exercise this power of expungement on criminal records held by other branches of state government.

Michigan State Police Roadside Drug Testing

Michigan State Police roadside drug testing, Michael L Steinberg Macomb Defense Lawyer

The Michigan State Police roadside drug testing has announced five counties where the testing pilot program will begin on Nov. 8.  You can read more about it here: http://bit.ly/2z0NkDt

You do not have to submit to a saliva sample.  It is a civil infraction.  Michigan DREs are junk science.
Other than marijuana (see below for medical marijuana), prescription drug users MAY have a defense for operating with the presence of a controlled substance.  There is a defense of therapeutic levels.  That is the sample has a level consistent with that as prescribed by the doctor
TO MY MEDICAL MARIJUANA CLIENTS, I want to remind you that you are still permitted to operate a vehicle after you’ve consumed your medicine, provided YOU ARE A CARDHOLDER.   The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that the government must prove actual impairment for these class of drivers.  A difficult task being there is no quantified level for THC also known as the therapeutic level which is considered acceptable.  Patient a needs a different level of THC than Patient B.  Along with many studies showing that THC does not impair driving.
When hiring a lawyer, for these cases, make sure they are plugged into the Defenses.

Fighting for one’s Fourth Amendment Rights

Fighting for one's Fourth Amendment Rights
It’s been a spectacular few days at the Law Offices of Michael L. Steinberg in Fighting for one’s Fourth Amendment Rights.
The Court granted Defendant’s Motion to Quash the Information.  Defendant was charged with Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer.  Part of that charge encompasses disobeying the lawful order of a police officer. Defendant has a common law right to resist an illegal arrest.  The Fourth Amendment requires the police to have probable cause to arrest, defined as Criminal activity afoot or some very narrow grounds.
In the case, Mike Steinberg argued to the district court judge that a citizen can legally, loudly protest the towing of her friend’s car and not be subject to arrest.  That there was nothing to investigate as the police agreed to the same  That there was no valid exception to detain “to sort things out”  The District Court Judge agreed that the defendant could protest, but nonetheless interfered with their duties.  Mr. Steinberg filed an extensive brief on Fourth Amendment jurisdiction including some from our overseeing Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In his brief, Mike Steinberg analyzed exceptions and argued why they did not apply. Mr. Steinberg thanks, Thomas Loeb for his immediate access and grasp of a very helpful Sixth Circuit case.   The Circuit Court agreed with Steinberg’s analysis and GRANTED the Motion to Quash which extinguished the case.  As my colleagues would report, getting such a result is very rare.
There are many choices for lawyers out there.  To paraphrase my favorite coach Mark Dantonio. While some are talking about results, Michael L. Steinberg is getting them.  Michael L Steinberg remains committed to fighting any case along with fighting for one’s Fourth Amendment rights.