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There is an element of intent in many theft crimes. To put it another way, the State must demonstrate that the defendant willfully stole the property of another person or individual in order to prove the defendant’s guilt. A Michigan court recently clarified the facts needed to show a defendant’s intent in cases involving theft, in a matter in which the defendant was accused of stealing from an Indian gaming establishment. If you have been charged with a theft offense, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your options.

The Accusations Against the Defendant

Allegedly, the defendants were accused of stealing from an Indian gaming establishment and assisting in the commission of such theft in violation of federal law. The defendants and the prosecutors reached an agreement in which they decided that all but one of the elements of the alleged crimes had been met. As a result, at trial, the prosecution solely needed to demonstrate that the defendants deprived an Indian gaming establishment of funds, property, or money. The case eventually went to a jury trial, where the court determined that the prosecution had proved the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Evidence of Guilt in Theft Cases

Under federal law, anyone who takes and carries away, or intentionally misapplies, property or money valued at $1,000 or less that belongs to an Indian tribe’s licensed or controlled may be fined or imprisoned under the applicable statute. As a result, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants willfully stole or misapplied property or money belonging to an Indian gaming establishment with the intent to steal in order to convict them of theft from an Indian gaming establishment. Continue reading

A warrant is usually required for police officers investigating a crime to search a defendant, and a search conducted absent a warrant may violate a person’s constitutional rights. However, there are exceptions, such as when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that an individual is committing a crime. In such circumstances, an investigatory stop might be justified. A Michigan court recently addressed the right against unreasonable search and seizure in a matter in which the defendant was charged with multiple offenses after an investigatory stop. If you are charged with a crime, you should speak to an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible regarding your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the police stopped the defendant at a gas station for carrying a concealed weapon without a warrant. An officer apparently noticed the pistol in the defendant’s waistband, as the handle protruding from his pants. The officer inquired whether the defendant had a permit to carry the weapon, to which the defendant replied that he did not. After the officer seized the pistol and arrested the suspect, he found heroin in the defendant’s possession as well.

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple weapons offenses as well as heroin possession. He filed a motion to bar the prosecution from using the evidence obtained during his arrest against him at trial, claiming that it was obtained through an unlawful search and seizure. He further asserted that the gun was not hidden but was carried openly in compliance with the State’s open carry rule. The defendant’s motion was granted, and the State appealed. Continue reading

People convicted of crimes often fear that they will be hindered by their convictions for the rest of their lives. While a criminal history may be an obstacle with regards to obtaining housing or employment, many people are able to erase their criminal past through expungement.  Only certain convictions can be expunged, though, and recent changes to the law make the process of purging a criminal past complicated. It is prudent, therefore, for anyone with questions regarding expungement to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Ellen K. Michaels of Ellen K. Michaels and Associates, PLLC, is a trusted Michigan criminal defense lawyer, and she can assess whether you may be able to expunge your criminal record and if so, guide you through the process.

Benefits of Expungement

Essentially, expungement removes evidence of a person’s conviction from the public record. While the State will retain such records following an expungement, they will not be accessible by the general population and will typically only be accessed if the person is charged with a subsequent crime.

Generally, expungement permits people to move forward as if they were never convicted. In other words, they can lawfully and truthfully answer “no” if asked if they have been convicted of a crime in certain instances, like when they are applying for jobs or housing. Typically, convictions that were expunged will not show up on a background check either. Continue reading

People accused of crimes typically know that they are not required to testify at trial. People often do not understand, though, that while defendants cannot be forced to offer defenses against the prosecution’s claims, they do have a statutory right to mount a defense. If that right is violated, it may constitute a basis for granting a new trial. A Michigan court recently explained how an appellate court assesses whether a trial court violated a defendant’s right to offer a defense in an opinion issued in an assault case. If you’ve been charged with assault, you should speak with a Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your options.

Arrest and Trial of the Defendant

It is alleged that following a fight with two women, the defendant was charged with multiple assault offenses. The defendant acknowledged that he had a disagreement with the alleged victims, but claimed that they conspired to make false accusations against him. The first woman, on the other hand, said the defendant tried to stab her, pointed a gun at her, and scratched her face, while the second woman claimed the defendant threw her to the ground and attacked her with a knife. The defendant was found guilty as charged by a jury. He filed an appeal, claiming, among other things, that the trial court infringed on his constitutional right to present a defense by barring evidence about other acts.

Defendant’s Rights in Criminal Matters

The appellate court dismissed the defendant’s appeal after reviewing the facts. The court clarified that a defendant must raise the question of whether a trial court’s evidentiary decision deprived him of the right to present a defense at the trial level, in order to preserve the issue for appeal. In the case at hand, the defendant neglected to argue at trial that the testimony in question was admissible under Michigan Rules of Evidence or that his right to present a defense was violated because it was not admitted. Continue reading

Although recreational marijuana use is legal in many states, people can still face criminal charges for selling or distributing marijuana in Michigan. Generally, there are numerous elements the prosecution must prove to establish guilt in a drug trafficking case, including intent. As such, if there is no evidence that a person knowingly moved drugs, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to persuade the government to drop any pending charges against the individual.

For example, Ellen K. Michaels of Ellen K. Michaels and Associates, PLLC, recently fought for the dismissal of federal drug smuggling charges against a Canadian trucker where there was no evidence that he knew he was transporting marijuana. Ultimately, Ms. Michaels’ efforts were successful, and the charges were dismissed. If you are accused of committing a drug crime, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Government’s Allegations

It is reported that a Canadian trucker was recently stopped and arrested in Detroit after an inspection by Customs and Border Protection revealed there were seven pallets of marijuana in his trailer. Subsequently, federal agents seized more than 2,000 pounds of highly potent marijuana, which has an estimated street value of $3.6 million. The trucker was charged with possession with intent to distribute, a crime that could result in a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years.

Allegedly, the affidavit against the trucker noted that the quantity of drugs seized was consistent with large-scale smuggling and distribution activities. Further, it stated that the trucker’s arrest was part of a greater drug trend, as parties routinely smuggle Canadian grown marijuana into the United States via commercial trucks and distribute it throughout the northwestern and southeastern parts of the country, where potent marijuana is difficult to obtain. Continue reading

When prosecuting a case, the State will often attempt to introduce evidence of a motive or a scheme. There are limitations as to what is admissible, though, and if the State tries to submit evidence of other acts to the jury in an attempt to establish a defendant’s guilt, the defense can argue that it is prejudicial and should be precluded. Recently, Ellen K. Michaels of Ellen K. Michaels and Associates, PLLC, fought to prohibit the prosecution from introducing evidence of other crimes in a case in which the defendant is charged with first-degree murder, and her efforts were ultimately successful. If you are accused of murder or any other violent crime, it is advisable to speak to an assertive Michigan criminal defense attorney about your rights.

The History of the Case

Allegedly, the police were investigating the disappearance of the defendant’s co-worker, who, according to eyewitness reports, was last seen with the defendant. The police then obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s apartment and conducted an analysis that indicated the presence of DNA on the defendant’s carpet.

It is reported that the State then charged the defendant with the first-degree murder of the co-worker. Prior to trial, the prosecution moved to admit evidence that the defendant had previously strangled and attempted to rape another woman. The defense objected to the admission of other acts evidence, arguing the prosecution sought to introduce it to wrongfully demonstrate the defendant’s propensity to commit crimes. The trial court ruled in favor of the defense, and the prosecution appealed. Continue reading

When police suspect anyone of selling drugs, they will usually perform a comprehensive investigation, which may involve obtaining a search warrant for the person’s home or car. In order to obtain a warrant, however, the police must have a reasonable belief that an individual is engaged in illegal activity, and if they do not, the search performed under the warrant could be considered unconstitutional. In a recent Michigan ruling, the court considered what constitutes adequate grounds to issue a warrant in a case where the defendant was charged with multiple drug offenses. If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, it’s a good idea to talk to a reputable Michigan criminal defense attorney about your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is alleged that the police received a search warrant for the defendant’s home and car based on suspicions that he was trafficking drugs. The State charged the defendant with various drug and firearms offenses following the investigation. The defendant then filed a motion to remove the evidence gathered via the search warrant, claiming that it was too broad and lacked sufficient evidence to create probable cause. The motion was granted, and the charges against the defendant were dropped. The State then filed an appeal, claiming that the trial court used the wrong criterion in deciding if the warrant should be issued.

If you are arrested, contact a lawyer immediately and do not say anything incriminating to the arresting officer that may be used against you as evidence in court. Did you know that you do not have to say anything to


the officer arresting you besides your name and birth date? The police officers may attempt to bully or intimidate you into giving them more information. Always remain calm and never resist the police. Being difficult with the police will only escalate the situation and will not benefit you in any way. Even though you feel scared and powerless, try your best to keep a clear mind.

The Miranda Rights are several fundamental rights everyone has immediately after being arrested by the police.

The Miranda Rights are:


You have the right to remain silent while being interrogated by the arresting officer.

You can refuse to answer any of the questions that the arresting officer asks you.

Anything you say to the police officer can beused against you as evidence in a court of law

You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and if you cannot afford a lawyer, the government will provide a lawyer for you.

A very common mistake people make once they are arrested is that they feel panicked and tell the police officer incriminating information. One of the smartest choices you can make immediately after being arrested is to call for a lawyer and not say anything to the arresting police officer before the lawyer arrives. Consulting with a lawyer will ensure that your rights are not being violated. Lawyers are experts with helping people immediately after they are arrested by the police. Defense attorneys always deal with clients right after they are arrested and will work effortlessly to ensure there were no legal flaws involving your arrest.

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