A DEFENSE ATTORNEY’S GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING A CRIMINAL RICO CHARGE

A DEFENSE ATTORNEY’S GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING A CRIMINAL RICO CHARGE

The Federal RICO act is the most complex and misunderstood criminal charge.  Because of this, many lawyers and charged defendants make decisions in their cases which are a product of not understanding how the law works or what the government must prove to establish a RICO conviction.  This article, written from the perspective of a criminal defense attorney experienced in RICO defense, discusses the elements the government must prove as well as the sentencing ramifications.

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Federal Financial Aid with a Conviction

One of the most important issues for anybody who is receiving or would like to receive student loans while going through a criminal case is whether any type of plea or conviction would result in the loans not being provided or terminated. In my criminal practice, I frequently run into this question, especially with clients who are going to college and receive a drug related misdemeanor or felony charge. The myth that many of those clients believe is that any type of drug conviction will result in the end of student loans, and thus the end of their college experience. However, quite to the contrary, federal student loans are generally available, even in limited circumstances to people who are incarcerated.
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Joining the Army with a Criminal Case

An issue I frequently come across when advising clients in a Michigan criminal case who are considering pleas is whether they can join the Army either in lieu of probation, or after their punishment is concluded. Although most people would assume that the United States Armed Forces would be happy to accept new recruits who want a second chance, the fact remains that entry into the Army after a criminal case can be an extremely difficult experience.
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4th Amendment Privacy Rights in your Backyard

Recently, I represented a young man who found himself in the backyard of a party in possession of alcohol and under 21 years old. As he was hanging out with his friends, the police entered the fenced-in backyard through a closed gate. The officers never announced their presence, did not request consent to enter, and did not obtain a search warrant. Admittedly, the party was somewhat loud, as the officers were responding to an anonymous noise complaint from a neighbor. Ultimately, the party was stopped, and many of the young people were cited for misdemeanor minor in possession of alcohol.
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Understanding a Conviction's Effect on Immigration Status

One of the most misunderstood areas of criminal practice by attorneys is the effect that a conviction may have on a non-citizen’s immigration status. As a criminal defense attorney, I have handled many cases where a conviction would result in my client’s deportation. Unfortunately as well, I have witnessed many other lawyers advise their clients to take plea deals which immediately cause the client to get deported.
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Keeping out Accuser Statements in Domestic Violence Trials

Recently, the Michigan Legislature adopted MCL §768.27c, which, in Michigan domestic violence trials, allows the prosecutor to bring in to evidence of an alleged victim’s statements to police, even if that person does not appear at the trial. As noted by the Legislature, the rational of this law is that it is “common that a domestic violence victim will make a statement to a police officer or other emergency responder but later may be unwilling to testify in court against the abuser.” (See Bill Analysis) Although the Michigan Legislature certainly had good intentions regarding the implementation of this law, the application of the law runs contrary of the Constitution and is illegal. Nevertheless, the vast majority of these cases are never challenged by criminal defense attorneys, thus resulting in many convictions and pleas based on illegal and inadmissible evidence.
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Understanding the Minor in Possession of Alcohol Charge

As an attorney who has handled many minor in possession of alcohol cases throughout Michigan, I continuously argue cutting edge defenses in order to win MIP cases. The reason why I handle so many MIP cases is because Michigan, and specifically, certain district courts, have taken the minor in possession of alcohol charge and treated it as though it was a major misdemeanor offense. Ultimately, this has resulted in many young people receiving sentences ranging from heavy probationary sentences, to jail if the probation is violated.
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Tough Judges in the Oakland County District Courts

As Michigan criminal lawyers who practice statewide, I, along with the other members of our firm, have handled cases in nearly every District Court in the Lower Peninsula. It has been our experience from our various cases that the toughest District Courts in Michigan are located in the northern half of Oakland County. These District Courts include the Rochester Court, the Novi Court, and the Bloomfield Hills Court.
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Challenging Field Sobriety Tests in Drunk Driving Cases

All too often in the world of criminal defense drunk driver representation, attorneys who do not concentrate in drunk driving defense will take on winnable drinking and driving cases and advise their clients to plead guilty. In many cases, the reason for this bad advice is based on an erroneous interpretation of the police report generated by the arresting officer. Contained within the report will undoubtedly be the officer’s rendition of the client’s performance of the officer’s field sobriety tests. Knowing and understanding the science behind the standardized tests, as well as the validity of the tests is vital to a successful defense for your client accused of drinking and driving.
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Understanding Battered Spouse Syndrome in Michigan Law

In the late hours of August 10, 2009, Joni Holbrook, a mother and friend to many in her community, took her husband's police issued firearm and shot her husband multiple times while he slept. Melvin Holbrook, a decorated veteran of the Michigan State Police, lay dead from the wounds. At first glance, this case seemed to be an open and shut First Degree Murder case. However, when we were retained to represent Joni, it became apparent that the major issue of the case was the question of why would Joni kill her husband.
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Performing an Opening Statement at a Jury Trial

Conducting a proper opening statement is a vital part of winning your case. Too often, I see lawyers go into the opening and bore the jurors to death with lengthy and irrelevant discussion about their case. Instead, I have found that in order to conduct a compelling opening, you must first believe in your case. If you don't believe in what you are doing, then how can you get 12 strangers to believe in your client's innocence. Next, you need to know your case like the back of your hand. In the above case, I put myself in my client's shoes and could only imagine the horror she suffered at the hands of her abusive boyfriend.
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