SERVICES
CIVIL
​​​​Civil rights refer to the rights of individuals to receive equal treatment under the law. This includes freedom from discrimination in the workplace and in seeking housing. Most civil rights laws originate from the federal level, most notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Michigan Civil Rights law, which also prohibits discrimination on the basis of one's weight, allows private lawsuits and carries a three-year statute of limitations.    


CRIMINAL
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What we call criminal law broadly refers to federal and state laws that make certain behavior illegal and punishable by imprisonment and/or fines. Our legal system is largely comprised of two different types of cases: civil and criminal. Civil cases are disputes between people regarding the legal duties and responsibilities they owe each other. Criminal cases, meanwhile, are charges pursued by prosecutors for violations of criminal statutes.

Felonies and Misdemeanors

Criminal cases are generally categorized as felonies or misdemeanors based on their nature and the maximum imposable punishment. Each state is free to draft new criminal laws, so long as they are deemed constitutional. Thus, what is a crime in one state may not necessarily be a crime in a neighboring state.
A felony involves serious misconduct that is punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year. Most state criminal laws subdivide felonies into different classes with varying degrees of punishment. Crimes that do not amount to felonies are typically called misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is misconduct for which the law prescribes punishment of no more than one year in prison. Lesser offenses, such as traffic and parking tickets, are often called infractions. 
Police Investigate, Prosecutors File Charges
Many people think that police officers (who investigate crimes) also charge offenders. That is a common misconception. Police gather evidence and sometimes also testify in court. But prosecutors – including district attorneys, United States Attorneys and others – ultimately decide whether a suspect is prosecuted or not.

Criminal Defense Lawyers

A qualified criminal defense attorney is often a crucial advocate for anyone charged with a crime. These attorneys are very familiar with local criminal procedures and laws – some may have even first worked as prosecutors. Most defense lawyers should be able to handle any misdemeanor or low-level crime. But not all lawyers are qualified to handle serious charges. Some courts don't allow inexperienced attorneys to represent defendants facing capital punishment, for example.
So whether you were arrested for a crime against a person (like assault and battery, rape, or murder), a crime against property (like shoplifting, burglary, or arson), or a drug crime (marijuana possession or cocaine dealing), our criminal defense lawyer can help.


    
EXPUNGEMENTS
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When expungement of an arrest or conviction is an option in a state or county, in most instances a person's criminal record must meet certain standards in order to qualify for the process.
Whether or not a person is eligible for expungement will usually depend on a number of factors, including:
The amount of time that has passed since the arrest or conviction;
The severity and nature of the event for which expungement is sought (i.e. a conviction for a sex offense may lead to a denial of expungement);
Events in the applicant's criminal record (including arrests or convictions in all jurisdictions, not just the offender's state/county); or
The severity and nature of other events in the applicant's criminal record.
Depending on the state and/or county, special eligibility rules might exist for expungement of arrests or convictions that occurred while the offender was a juvenile, and arrests or convictions for sex offenses.

The Expungement Process
While the process will be different in each state or county, typically, it starts with filing an application or petition for an expungement. Not all jurisdictions use the same terminology. So, for example, while Utah refers to this as expungement of records, California refers to it as cleaning your record with a dismissal, and some states like Michigan refer to it as setting aside a conviction. Regardless of the description used, the effect is the same as the process will result in the removal or sealing of your criminal records.

When filing an application, your court will likely have standard forms to use as well as checklists of documents and information you'll need to include with your request. It's critical to make sure that you include all of the necessary items in your request. If certain documents or information are not available, then your application should explain what steps you took to find them and why you were not able to obtain them.

Often times, however you can receive everything that you will need to include with your request from the county prosecutor's office. In many jurisdictions, you will even need to obtain approval from the prosecutor's office before your request goes to the court.

Usually, when the court grants a petition or application, it will issue an order of expungement which can then be served on other agencies. This makes sure that any records they have on your are also sealed or removed. These agencies often include:
The arresting agency (such as the local police department or sheriff's office);
The booking agency (such as the county jail); or
Your state's department of corrections (covering your records while serving any prison sentences)
Other Considerations

If your underlying convictions involve sex offenses, then you may be subject to certain registration and reporting requirements. If you obtain an expungement of your criminal records, don't assume that this will automatically remove any registration or reporting requirements. In California, for example, in addition to an order dismissing your criminal records, you will also need to file a separate motion to be relieved of your registration and reporting requirements. If that separate request is not granted, you would still need to follow the registration and reporting laws in your state.

    
DIVORCE  / FAMILY
​​​​​​​In order to file for a divorce in Michigan, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:

A judgment of divorce shall not be granted by a court in this state in an action for divorce unless the complainant or defendant has resided in this state for 180 days immediately preceding the filing of the complaint, the complainant or defendant has resided in the county in which the complaint is filed for 10 days immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. (Michigan Compiled Laws - Section: 552.9)

No Fault Divorce Laws

As previously noted, Michigan is one of many states that allows what is known as a “no fault” divorce. A no fault divorce means that you do not need to prove that your spouse was “at fault,” or did anything wrong. Instead, you just have to provide any reason that the state honors for the divorce. Under Michigan divorce law, the reason is that the marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown,” which is merely a legal way of saying that you and your spouse do not get along and you cannot repair your marital relationship. Michigan also has alternatives to the standard divorce, such as an annulment or legal separation.

Michigan Custody Laws

If you and your spouse have any children together, you should be aware of how Michigan child custody laws work, as well as Michigan laws pertaining to child support guidelines and child support enforcement. Also, if you have been the victim of domestic violence, the state of Michigan has resources available to you.
Navigating the divorce process can be extremely difficult, both emotionally and legally. You may find that speaking with  our attorneys about your case can make things easier. 

TRAFFIC TICKETS  
Traffic charges must be taken as seriously as any other criminal charges, especially when a traffic offense rises to the level of a misdemeanor or felony, which carry the potential for harsh consequences. If you have been charged with a traffic-related misdemeanor or felony, the best place to start is to speak with one of our experienced attorneys, who in some cases may be able to "plead down" a serious traffic offense from a felony to a misdemeanor (or a misdemeanor down to an infraction), in order to best minimize punishment for the offense.

Most traffic tickets are issued for traffic offenses called "infractions" -- including tickets for mechanical violations and most non-dangerous moving violations. Infractions do not usually carry the same stigma and penalties as serious criminal offenses. But certain traffic-related offenses are categorized as "misdemeanors" or even "felonies", and can result in more significant fines, loss of driving privileges, or even imprisonment.
Generally speaking, in most states, a traffic violation becomes a misdemeanor or felony if it:
Causes injury to a person or destruction of property, or
Creates a real threat of injury to a person or destruction of property.

Traffic Felonies and Misdemeanors:

Going through a red light may be a misdemeanor in one state, for instance, but it becomes a felony if the driver maliciously hits another vehicle in the intersection and an occupant of that vehicle dies. In addition, some traffic offenses are defined as misdemeanors or felonies from the outset, such as driving with a revoked license, leaving the scene of an accident, or reckless driving.
People accused of these more-serious traffic violations are entitled to all constitutional protections provided to criminal defendants, including the right to a court-appointed attorney and a jury trial.

Traffic Misdemeanors
The criminal justice system would quickly be overwhelmed if every minor breach of the law required a full criminal trial. Therefore, less egregious traffic violations are often treated as misdemeanors (although many minor traffic offenses are considered even less severe "infractions"). Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, generally punishable by a fine or incarceration in the county jail for less than one year. Although precise classifications vary on a state-by-state basis, common examples of traffic misdemeanors include:

A drunk driving conviction can lead to steep fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. Additionally, it could affect your job security and significantly raise your insurance rates. Since the stakes are typically fairly high, it usually pays to have a DUI attorney handle your case. Your attorney will be skilled at scrutinizing the evidence against you, ensuring that your rights are protected, and securing the best possible outcome.

Producing evidence of motor vehicle insurance upon request of police officer; violation as civil infraction; electronic copy; certificate of insurance as prima facie evidence that insurance in force; contents; presentation of proof of insurance to court; civil infraction determination; surrendering license unless proof of insurance submitted to court; suspension of license by secretary of state; order; fee; renewal, transfer, or replacement of registration plate; producing false evidence as misdemeanor; penalty; points; section inapplicable to owner or operator of motor vehicle registered in other state or foreign country or province.


BANKRUPTCY
Bankruptcy is a legal process meant to give people a fresh start by relieving burdensome debts. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for example, the debtor’s property is liquidated and the proceeds paid to his or her creditors. In a Chapter 13, on the other hand, the debtor creates a repayment plan and repays his or her debts in accordance with it. Once the bankruptcy process is complete, the filer typically is released from personal liability for most debts. Find introductory information on bankruptcy below, including a more detailed definition of bankruptcy, information on changes to bankruptcy laws, and the key distinctions between the most common forms of personal bankruptcy.« Show Less

Bankruptcy: An Overview

Most people have some idea what is meant by the term bankruptcy, which refers to a legal process intended to help resolve debt issues for those who cannot afford to repay their creditors. However, fewer are aware of the many different kinds of bankruptcy permitted under the law or the effects that choosing one form of bankruptcy over another might cause. Kinds of bankruptcy are typically named for the chapter of the Bankruptcy Code that established them. Bankruptcies include:

Chapter 7 - Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Also called "liquidation." In this form of bankruptcy most of the debtor's assets are sold and the proceeds are used to pay creditors. Whatever debts
Chapter 13 - Chapter 13 Bankruptcy allows the person seeking bankruptcy to retain certain valuable assets such as their home and car. Instead they develop a plan to repay creditors over a longer period of time and the court determines whether the plan meets the requirements of the code. The debtor has any remaining debts discharged when they complete payment under the plan.
Chapter 11 - Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is also called "Restructuring" and is a form of bankruptcy used by businesses that wish to continue their operations while repaying creditors.
Chapter 12 - Chapter 12 Bankruptcy is quite similar to Chapter 13 bankruptcy except that it is intended specifically for businesses built around family farming or fishing.
Chapter 9 - Chapter 9 Bankruptcy permits cities, towns, counties, school districts, and other municipalities to declare bankruptcy similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Since they are intended to protect individuals; most debtors will be most interested in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. One threshold issue relating to eligibility for one or the other kind of bankruptcy has to do with the debtor's income level. Those with little or no income are eligible to file for Chapter 7, which is a simpler and quicker form of bankruptcy but also results in the liquidation of virtually all the debtor's assets. Chapter 13 may permit the debtor to retain some significant assets, but also takes considerably longer before those debts are discharged. If a debtor's income qualifies for Chapter 13 bankruptcy but they apply for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy the court may dismiss the case or convert it to a

Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Significant differences also arise in bankruptcies involving:
Mortgages and Car Loans
Debts tied to Past Crimes
Debts Owed for Child Support, Alimony, or Student Loans
Nonsupport Debts Owed in a Divorce, Property Settlement, or Agreement
Co-Debtors on Personal Loans
Nonexempt Valuable Property
Secured Property
A Prior Bankruptcy