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.

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.

Arrested for Disorderly Conduct in Michigan

arrested for disorderly conduct in Michigan, Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Michael L Steinberg

Being arrested for Disorderly Conduct in Michigan (MCL 750.167) if convicted is a Misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in county jail and/or probation + a hefty fine and court costs.

  • The city of Royal Oak, Michigan defines Disorderly Conduct in 278.35
  • The city of Mt. Clemens, Michigan defines Disorderly Conduct in 20.001 – Sec 1

Also under Michigan law, there is also a Disorderly Persons offense (MCL 750.168) which is a catch-all for several offenses in Michigan.

Being convicted of Disorderly Conductor Disorderly Persons will result in a criminal record. If you had a prior charge for being “disorderly” and as a result, the prosecutor, judge, and probation officer view it as “contact” with the criminal justice system.  Any contact(s) with the courts and/or the cops are not good. They suggest that the person has a propensity for getting in trouble, and if they didn’t learn the first time, then they obviously need a more severe consequence.

Depending on your circumstances it may be possible to get these charges completely dropped, preserving you from getting a permanent criminal record. Because these offenses are so common, and subjectively applied, it is VERY IMPORTANT to have a skilled and knowledgeable Michigan disorderly conduct defense attorney to represent you.

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.