Oct. 1, 2018 Begins the Elimination of Michigan Responsibility Fees

For many years, drivers have had to deal with Michigan Responsibility Fees when being a resident of this state. However, as of Oct. 1, 2018, the accumulation of Michigan Responsibility fees by the state’s residents have been eliminated. What this means for individual Michigan drivers is that if your driver’s license has been held up or withheld by the Michigan SOS because of responsibility fees, you will be able to now re obtain your driver’s license.

It is important to know that there are some details that individuals must know prior to going and re-obtaining your driver’s license here in Michigan. First, this will only apply to Michigan Driver’s responsibility fees, meaning that you will still need to pay any reinstatement fees that are due and owing prior to obtaining your driver’s license. Second, the elimination of Michigan responsibility fees does not negate or take away from those individuals who are denied or revoked for other reasons or because of prior driving habits or behavior. For example, those individuals who have been denied or revoked because of numerous drunk driving convictions will need to petition the Michigan SOS prior to obtaining their privilege to drive. However, the Michigan responsibility fees owed because of those convictions have been eliminated, and thus one of the primary hurdles that many individuals face has been taken down. Lastly, if you have not had a valid driver’s license in the last 4 years, you will need to take vision and eye examine prior to being issued a license, which could then require corrective lenses.

This move of eliminating Michigan responsibility fees for driver’s should allow many individuals that have been placed in a financial hardship, due to these fees, room to breathe and obtain a license that they may have so longed for. It is important to contact counsel in order to be fully advised on what, if anything, you may need to do in order to re-obtain your ability to driver here in Michigan. Again, as mentioned above, some individual will see one of the hurdles removed when trying to get their license back; however, they may still have to go through the formal restoration process. This is all dependent on why the individual was originally suspended and what it is that is truly keeping them from the roadway. Josh Jones is here for all of your driver’s license restorations questions, issues and services. Contact him today and begin the journey of legal driving.

Usable Marihuana Definition Again Limited In People v Mansour

In the summer of 2018, the Court of Appeal issued an opinion in People v Mansour, that limited the definition of usable marihuana here in Michigan for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. The court looked at a case where the individual was growing marihuana and drying marihuana when the police executed a search on his residence. The defendant in the case raised an immunity defense in the trial court and presented an expert witness on the subject of the drying marihuana that was found. In the case, defense was arguing that the drying marihuana was not defined as usable marihuana, which in turn would not be countable for the weight restrictions enforced by the MMMA.

However, the Court of Appeals did not agree with the defendant entirely. It opined that usable marihuana is not the same as drying marihuana, and thus the amount of drying marihuana could not be used when determining the weight of usable marihuana the defendant had in his possession at the time of the search on his residence. The court went on to explain that even though the usable marihuana weight restriction is not influenced by the amount of marihuana that the defendant had in his possession, since it was drying, the defendant still did not have a valid claim to immunity or an affirmative defense under the MMMA. The court’s reasoning behind the opinion was that since the MMMA does not identify that drying marihuana is allowed under the act, and since it was not usable marihuana, the defendant was in violation of state law as he was not able to afford himself of the MMMA. Essentially, the court bifurcated the multiple variations of marihuana, as it grows from plant to buds, but it then excluded it from the MMMA. In the end, this opinion essentially makes the harvesting or drying of marihuana a complete violation of the MMMA, which becomes a problem for many patients and caregivers attempting to obtain a final product consisting of usable marihuana.

This was an interesting, and sadly disappointing, opinion by the Michigan Court of Appeals. I assume that the defense in the case will attempt to appeal the decision; however, whether the Michigan Supreme Court decides to hear the issue will be left for the future to decide. At the time of writing this article, the author is unaware if an appeal has been filed on the matter. With that said, it is so highly important to consult and contact counsel when attempting or wanting to act under the MMMA. Even though the act has now been around for a decade, the issues and fog created by the act have not lifted. The limiting of what constitutes usable marihuana has only become more convoluted with this opinion.

Michigan Criminal Sentencing Explained

Here in the State of Michigan, many criminal sentencing hearings will be based upon the type of criminal charge and the jurisdiction where the sentencing will occur. Whether the criminal charge is a misdemeanor or felony will be the heaviest weighing factor for a criminal sentencing. The reason for this is due the statutory limitation set upon misdemeanors and felonies.

Remember, criminal misdemeanors are statutory limited by a maximum 1-year in jail. Ultimately, the criminal sentencing will be affected due to the maximum punishment a judge can impose for a misdemeanor. A felony is also statutorily controlled; however, since the maximum jail punishment is over one year (and again varies on the crime charged) the criminal sentencing can maintain a wide range of possibilities. In the end, there are numerous requirements that an individual can face in any criminal sentencing. Jail time is usually the biggest worries when an individual faces a criminal charge.

The type of punishment an individual will face during a criminal sentencing will be dependent on numerous factors. These will include, but not limited to: criminal record, rehabilitation status, injuries to victim, type of crime convicted of or pled to, employment status, substance abuse history or treatment status, jail credit already accrued, probation or pretrial recommendation or assessment, mental health status or treatment, bond status or violations, and any other possibly relevant information, acts, or facts known or made known to the court prior to or at the time of sentencing. There can be so many factors, facts and issues that are involved in a sentencing that an appropriate list cannot truly be constructed in such a setting. Moreover, not every criminal sentencing will be the same, and thus some of the above situations will not apply to every individual.

Finally, it is worth noting that a sentencing can also be influenced based on the jurisdiction or court that an individual is in for the particular sentencing. There are particular district and circuit court here in Michigan that are more difficult to navigate as compared to others. This includes the sentencing that is involved in a criminal matter. These difficult courts have a tendency to sentence more severely than others, which makes a criminal sentencing even more important when an individual has a case pending in one of these jurisdictions.

An individual should always obtain representation whenever they are facing any criminal misdemeanor or felony. A criminal sentencing is one of the many reasons that supports the claim that an individual is better off when they lawyer-up. So whenever you need a criminal defense attorney, call Josh Jones 7-days a week.

Outline Drug & Alcohol Testing While On Bond/Probation

An individual will see drug & alcohol testing involved in their criminal matter during probation or while on bond. When an individual is charged with a criminal misdemeanor or felony, they are originally placed on bond. When on bond, an individual will have certain conditions and requirements that they must follow in order to comply with his or her bond. If the individual fails to comply with those terms and conditions, the court may look to revoke, increase or forfeit the bond. This means the individual may be incarcerated while their criminal matter is pending. The ability to obtain bond allows them to remain free from incarceration during that time.  When an individual is placed on probation, similar conditions and requirements as found during the bond period are also placed on the individual.

These requirements and conditions during bond or probation can and usually include no illegal substance or alcohol use. The court oversees the compliance of not using these substances by drug & alcohol testing. The drug & alcohol testing can range daily to monthly. Testing is almost always performed randomly. The purpose of random drug & alcohol testing to ensure that the individual is not aware of when he or she tests. This makes it more difficult to cheat the test. Moreover, courts do not like an individuals providing diluted samples, failing to provide a sample, or failing to appear to test. Drug & alcohol testing issues are common reasons for individuals to violate bond and probation terms.

Call Josh Jones today for your free initial consultation.

Whenever you are charged with a criminal misdemeanor or felony, it is important to remember that drug & alcohol testing can be sought by the court. This will even occur when the individual is of legal drinking age, meaning that the individual must sustain from alcohol during those periods. Drug testing also becomes an issue for individual with medical marihuana cards while navigating through the justice system. These are just some classic reasons why you should always obtain a criminal defense attorney whenever you are facing such a matter. You always want to put yourself in the best situation you can be when heading into a court of law.

Michigan DWLS Explained & Outlined

If you are found driving on a suspended, denied or revoked drivers license, you may find yourself in a position where you are issued a Michigan DWLS ticket. This type of ticket is a criminal misdemeanor, generally carrying a possible maximum punishment of 93-days in jail, plus a possible fine, costs and probation. See MCL § 257.904.  There are multiple situations and scenarios that can bring about a suspension, revocation or denial for an individual’s drivers license here in Michigan.

A very common situation that will allow for the issuance of a driving on suspension charge is when an individual fails to pay a traffic infraction ticket or citation in the identified timeframe. When an individual fails to pay one or more of those tickets, the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) will suspended the drivers license, bringing about the ability to be issued a Michigan DWLS. Of course, a Michigan DWLS ticket cannot be issued without first being stopped by an officer; however, it does allow for the ability for an officer to issue and charge an individual for such a thing. It is also important to note that because a Michigan DWLS is a criminal offense, an officer is allowed and able to arrest an individual who is caught or found driving on a suspended, revoked or denied license. With that said, even a jail sanction or punishment can ensue if an individual is found or pleads guilty to the offense of driving while license suspended. The reasoning, again, rests on the fact that a DWLS is a traffic misdemeanor, and thus it is punishable, if chosen, by a term of incarceration or jail.

Moreover, it is also important to note that an individual with a prior conviction of a DWLS and then receives another DWLS charge, he or she will be looking at an enhanced criminal misdemeanor. When an individual is facing his or her second driving on suspended, they will be looking at an enhanced 1-year criminal misdemeanor, meaning the maximum punishment by jail 1-year and/or a fine. As compared to its lesser counterpart, a DWLS first is simply a 93-day misdemeanor, as indicated previously. It is also important to note that regardless of the charge (DWLS 1st or 2nd) possible driver’s license sanctions can also ensue upon a conviction. The type of sanction will be dependent on the specific individual charged with driving while on a suspended license and what their drivers record looks like, meaning some individuals will not automatically be suspended upon a conviction of a DWLS. You may also be in need of drivers license restoration.

It becomes highly important to contact and obtain the assistance of a criminal defense attorney whenever you have been issued or charged with driving while on a suspended license. You should not treat a DWLS charge like traditional traffic offense, such as speeding. There could and will likely be larger repercussions that you are unaware of or may not understand. Always lawyer-up!

Question Presented: What is Circumstantial Evidence?

Typically circumstantial evidence is defined as evidence that is not direct evidence. Two commonly presented hypotheticals used  to differentiate the terms is as follows: Direct Evidence would be looking outside the window and seeing the rain or actual act of it raining; while circumstantial evidence would be seeing someone walking into a building and his or her jacket or shirt is wet. Circumstantial evidence brings about a logic and reasonable assumption or inference based upon the fact presented.

Circumstantial is generally admissible or allowed within criminal trials or charges faced by individual defendants. Moreover, circumstantial evidence can be sufficient enough to maintain a guilty verdict against an individual criminal defendant. However, this does not negate or take away from the burden of proof that must be substantiated, but it does mean that quality and sufficient circumstantial evidence can and will satisfy the beyond a reasonable standard needed by a prosecuting attorney in a criminal case. This mean that an individual does not need to be seen stealing from the cookie jar in order to be found that he did in fact take a cookie. If there are facts showing that he had or has cookies in his possession he can be found to have taken said cookie from the jar. This is a very scaled back version of a criminal offense; however, it does not negate or take away from the objective with circumstantial evidence.

This idea becomes important when reviewing or looking at any given criminal case, whether felony or misdemeanor. Due to the ability of circumstantial evidence being used to substantiate or support a prosecutor’s burden of proof it becomes necessary to attack all areas of such evidence, even more importantly than when attempting to rebut direct evidence. Moreover, the nature of circumstantial evidence can be ambiguous since in some situations the use of such evidence can be a benefit for both the prosecution or the defense, depending on how an individual frames that particular piece of evidence. For example, the lack of fingerprints found at a crime scene connected to a hypothetical defendant would be a key argument for the defense; however, the prosecutor could also argue effectively that the hypothetical defendant would not leave prints when wearing gloves, if such were able to be articulated in such a case. The point of the matter is that any criminal matter fixated or containing circumstantial evidence should be closely reviewed by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

What Happens When Refusing A PBT During A Traffic Stop?

A Preliminary Breathe Test (PBT) is utilized during some traffic stops when an officer suspects that the individual operating the motor vehicle in question is operating under the influence of intoxicants. A PBT is supposed to measure the amount of consumed alcohol within an individual’s system. When administered during a traffic stop, a PBT will be used on the side of the road, and thus a PBT is different when compared to the more specialized chemical test breathalyzer, which is generally performed after arrest and at the police station. It is worth noting that refusing a PBT or a chemical test breathalyzer can and will each have their own respective consequences if found responsible or guilty of either refusal.

In order to conceptually understand the difference between the two types of testing, one must understand that a PBT is done prior to arrest, while a secondary test is performed after the arrest. A secondary chemical test requires certain legal and chemical rights be rad prior to its administration. A PBT, on the other hand, is usually done after field sobriety tests (walk and turn, one-leg stand, finger to nose, reciting ABC’s, etc.) and prior to being arrested. It will also generally be performed on the side of the road by a handheld device the officer retrieves from his patrol vehicle. If refusing the PBT a civil infraction can and likely will be issued to the individual who refused. This type of civil infraction is a zero-point, non-abstractable infraction, and thus it is not placed on an individual’s driving record. The repercussions of refusing the secondary chemical test are much more severe and long-lasting. If curious of this repercussions, a more detailed explanation and editorial can be found here.

It should also be noted that generally a PBT cannot be admitted into trial, mainly due to the sensitivity and accuracy of the devise and its results. Multiple issues arise when looking into the accuracy of a PBT’s ability to measure someone’s blood alcohol content. However, the results of a PBT do allow for the underlying arrest for a drunk driving charge, even if not ultimately being used for conviction. The secondary chemical test if the primary device or result used for a drunk driving conviction or matter. Therefore, the PBT generally lead to similar results or at least results in-line with the later corroborating secondary chemical test results. It becomes so imperative for individuals to always obtain defense counsel when faced with issues involving a PBT, chemical test, or traffic matter. The varying ideals can change from case to case and apply in a variety of scenarios, so know the law, maintain your rights, and lawyer-up.

Remember to never rely on the information, opinions or content on this website or any other website on the internet when wanting, thinking or trying to represent yourself before any legal court or body or entity within this State or any other within the US.

What Is HYTA?

The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, HYTA, is a deferral statue that has specific age restrictions for individuals attempting to use the statute. However, it is not allowed for a number of offenses, including offenses where the penalty is life, all traffic offenses, and most criminal sexual conduct offenses. To receive consideration under HYTA, a defendant must have committed the crime charged between the ages of 17 and 21, generally. Generally is being stated because under new provisions that took effect in 2015 extending the age of requirement up to 24 years of age. Moreover, the individual cannot be charged with a crimes falling under list of excluding crimes.

If, you are 21 years of age at the time the crime was committed you will NOW be eligible to apply for HYTA, including up to 24 years of age. However, the key wording is “up to,” meaning that if you are 24 years old at the time of committing the offense you will not be eligible. Furthermore, if you are over the age requirement at the time you are brought to court (meaning 24 or older) on the criminal charges you may still be eligible to apply for HYTA consideration, if at the time the crime was committed you were 17 years old, and under 24 years old.

It is important to note and understand that HYTA does not prevent a Judge from sending an individual to jail. Moreover, there are other considerations that may come into play beyond the statutory exclusions and jail when handling a matter being considered under HYTA. There is also the required probationary period or oversight a court will impose in order to determine whether an individual is successful under HTYA status.

What Are The Benefits Of HYTA?

Answer: Once you enter a plea of guilty under HYTA, there is no public record of the conviction. The court, on the other hand, will maintain a record of the incident and matter, yet the general public will not have access to the information. Upon successful completion of HTYA an individual will have their record remain nonpublic and a conviction of the criminal act will not ensue.

VERY Important Note: If an individual does not satisfy the terms and conditions of probation or Judgement of Sentence he or she could lose your HYTA status, which means your HYTA status could be revoked. If revoked the conviction(s) will be entered onto your criminal history and any and all repercussions extending from the conviction will become enforceable. When facing the possibility of losing HYTA status it becomes imperative to obtain a criminal defense lawyer. This can also be said when facing any criminal or traffic conviction, citation, warrant or charge.

PLEASE DO NOT RELY upon any of the information contained in this article when trying or attempting to represent yourself in any criminal matter. You should always consult with an attorney before relying upon any written advice, article, blog, opinion, etc. found within this site or any other site found on the World Wide Web. 

What Does The Future Of Michigan Medical Marijuana Businesses Hold?

As many already know, last year Michigan passed legislation allowing for Michigan medical marijuana businesses to operate under specific conditions and licenses. However, the laws allowing for Michigan medical marijuana businesses to operate within the State does not become effective until December 15, 2017. With that said, there has been a lot of discussion about how one goes about best situating themselves to obtain a Michigan medical marijuana business license when they become available towards the end of this year. First, it should be noted that the state licensing board will not have applications available for a Michigan medical marijuana business license until the effective date of Dec. 15, 2017.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, in order for a Michigan medical marijuana business license to be issued the local municipality, city, or township needs to opt into the new laws. The local municipalities have the option of choosing one (1) or five (5) or all five (5) of the Michigan medical marijuana business licenses enacted by these new laws.  In fact, they are allowed to choose any number of Michigan medical marijuana business licenses to issue or opt into. They are also not given a deadline for when they are required to opt into or out of the new laws. The only real requirement is that they pass local ordinances identifying that they are opting into the new laws. If the local area does not decide to opt into these new laws then sadly there will be no Michigan medical marijuana business license issued in those areas, meaning no medical marijuana businesses can operate there.

Thirdly, there has been discussion of what the board will be doing with those operating medical marijuana dispensaries under previous medical marijuana laws here in Michigan. There has been mention that the board overseeing the issuance of Michigan medical marijuana businesses and its licensing will be giving a deadline for those preexisting businesses to stop operation. Moreover, there could be legal recourse sought for those operating past the deadline. As of the date of this article, none of those discussions are official, but they have been made public and will be decided on soon.

In the end, if you are thinking of wanting to get involved in future Michigan medical marijuana businesses, it is advisable to contact counsel to assist with the application process and obtaining of the license. The above mentioned points are only some of the concerns and issues faced by future Michigan medical marijuana businesses, and they will likely only be expanding as time passes. You want to remember to never rely on any information, advice or opinion provided on this website or any other website on the internet when wanting, attempting or thinking about representing yourself before any body, entity or individual court or otherwise without first obtaining advice and assistance from legal representation. As always, know the law, maintain your rights, and then lawyer-up.

Unemployment Insurance Agency Falsely Claiming Unemployment Fraud

When an individual losing his or her job, they may be able to obtain unemployment benefits through the State of Michigan. When filing a claim for such benefits, an individual will essentially go through an application process of fact checking and reporting through the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). For the most part, the UIA’s process is automated in many instances, electronic online interfaces are used, and it can be tedious and long for some individuals. There had been issues with this system, which led to a voluminous number of fraud claims submitted by the department on individuals looking to obtain benefits between approximately 2013-2015.

Unemployment fraud within Michigan has been relatively high within the last several years. One may think this is due to the hard time faces by Michigan residents and an increase in criminality. However, the relative facts on why there was an increase in unemployment fraud was not to due the individual claimants. Instead, it was the UIA who were falsely reporting unemployment fraud due to misreporting, interpretation and misunderstanding within the UIA’s process and automated system. Essentially, there was no proper way to weed of mistakes made when self reporting to a machine, especially when the follow-up questioning would come by electronic or regular mailer with no direction other than submitting additional information. The process of identifying unemployment fraud and the reasoning for the allegation varies among each individual.

The ability to obtain information on the issues with how the UIA reported unemployment fraud was long because the department would not release all documentation and information immediately. Once all of the information was reviewed it became apparent the underlying issue was with the automated reporting process and technology. The automated system would not always provide accurate information, dates and underlying reasons for the unemployment claim being submitted by an individual, and thus when reporting the system would flag an individual for potential unemployment fraud. If an individual is not inapt or unable to prove something that is not true that individual will then be facing long administrative procedures in order to correct the alleged unemployment fraud. It is worth noting that unemployment fraud claims usually attach some monetary restitution to be paid or provided to the State or UIA as reimbursement for the fraudulent act. Moreover, these unemployment fraud claims are generally civil in nature; however, this does not mean criminal charges could or would not ensue. As always, unemployment fraud claims (like many legal ideals) are and can be complex and layers, making them complicated to navigate.

Because of the issues facing unemployment fraud claims, it is always necessary to obtain legal representation. Josh Jones has been involved in numerous unemployment fraud claim cases involving the UIA and understands the issues those faced the last few years. He has personally experienced the automated self reporting problems. And due to this, he highly stresses the importance of contacting counsel whenever alleged to have committed any form of fraud. Even when an individual knows no improper action has been committed on his or her own part, the possible repercussions can be grave. Competent legal representation can assist, correct and protect you legal rights. It’s what they do. As always, never rely on any information, advice or comment on any website on the internet when wanting to represent, defend, claim, or assert before any court, entity, or governmental body without first obtaining advice and guidance of legal representation. Know the law, maintain your rights, and lawyer-up.