Category Archives: Sartz

Tips for Homeowners considering remodeling projects….

Homeowners, for a litany of potential reasons, may need to remodel or 38286807_7bcf7bb83c_zreconstruct portions of their home. Unfortunately, things do not always turn out well and litigation may ultimately be necessary.

However, prior to starting any remodeling projects, there are a few basic questions and things a homeowner can do to help avoid some significant issues in the future. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means. These are just some general observations based on my years of litigating these types of cases. These projects are often much more legally complicated than they appear.

    • First, if you have a project in mind, check your local rules.
      • Your local ordinances and building codes, for example, should be available online or at the city/town hall. If you want a bigger garage, for example, you may need a variance or approval for any sort of expansion from local authorities. Zoning may be an issue as well. Building codes vary significantly depending on where you live. Some cities, for example, are very restrictive. You may need to pull permits and get approval from multiple levels of the government, all the way up to the Feds, depending on where your property is located.
      • You may be restricted by privately negotiated rules as part of a subdivision or local association. These restrictions will often be considerably tougher than local building codes and you risk litigation if you do not comply with them.
      • Certain projects just cannot be built, legally, or may be far too expensive to get all the necessary permits and approvals, especially for people living near environmentally sensitive areas.
    • What’s your budget?
      • Will you need financing?
        • Rates and terms for home-equity lines are different than rates for purchases. Equity lines may add a significant additional monthly payment so factor that in as well.
      • Plan on cost-overruns and try to under-budget these projects.
        • Things will happen which will probably drive up the costs. If everything works out, great; you have a surplus.
    • Check with your property insurer.
      • Remodeling or additions to a house or condo may impact your homeowner’s policy. Further, you will need to know whether damages may be covered under your policy.
    • Check your mortgage and note.
      • Depending on the type of project, you may need to consult with your lender or anyone else with a legal interest in the property. In the fine-print of a mortgage, there may be language which would require the lien-holder’s approval because significant remodels may impact their property interest.
        • A mechanics lien, for example, has important legal ramifications in terms of who has priority to the proceeds of the house if it is sold or foreclosed upon.
    • Are you planning on hiring anyone or doing it yourself?
      • I recommend properly insured and licensed professionals for a vast majority of the work, given the potential risks; however, the legal liabilities and responsibilities are very different depending on whom is doing the work.
      • There are less legal protections available and greater potential liability risks if a homeowner attempts to do the work on their own. However, for a highly skilled and resourceful homeowner who can navigate the permitting process, it may be a way to save money.
      • It may be legally easier for a homeowner to pull a building permit, for example; however, I urge caution if a contractor is asking the homeowner to do this in the homeowner’s name.
        • Some less reputable builders and contractors may hide behind owner-permits to complete jobs which legally, they would not be permitted to do otherwise.
    • What type of professionals will you potentially need?
      • While most general contractors will know what a project requires, different types of professionals charge different rates.
        • Disputes over pay and working conditions between a general contractor and sub-contractors may stall your project, cause significant cost-overruns, or cause other significant headaches.
      • If you do your research in advance, you can anticipate and estimate these costs and build it into your budget.
      • If you are interested in hiring someone, prior to meeting with them, make sure they are properly licensed prior to discussing any terms.
      • Are they insured or bonded? In a vast majority of professions, there is some type of insurance or bonding available for practitioners.
        • It is good to know this information. This will be a big issue if something goes wrong. It is usually acceptable to ask.

 

  • If you decide to hire someone and start the project, make sure you have a written contract and use written agreements.
  • Make sure all the parties sign the agreement.
  • Make sure all the parties carefully review the agreement.
  • Be aware of the fine print…all the language in that contract is in there for a reason.
  • If litigation is ultimately necessary, the written contract will be a key issue. The written contract is the first place the lawyers and court will look at when examining a dispute over terms.
  • If you have concerns, make sure you put those concerns in writing, send the other party a letter informing th7594030640_91d17e5b9b_zem of your concerns, ask them to fix the issues, and save a copy.
    • Do not just rely on texts or calls. Even an e-mail is better than just a phone-call since it creates documentation with a date and time-stamp that could be used later.
    • It is vitally important to document your concerns and make sure the other party has time to address your concerns, i.e., give the person you hired a chance to fix or address your concerns.
    • Put any amendments to the contract in writing. Oral amendments to a contract, for example, are much harder to enforce. If you agree to change something, make sure it is in writing and preferably signed or initialized by the parties.
  • Do not play games with payments and keep clear records of payments and receipts.
    • Make sure the parties are in agreement about how and when payments will be made.
    • You may be better off suing afterwards rather than breaching a contract by just stopping payments.
    • If litigation is ultimately necessary, it is often better to go into the litigation with “clean hands.”  A bounced or stopped check, for example, may have significant ramifications which are not readily apparent.
    • Book-keeping is a big issue if the matter ends up in litigation; especially if insurance payments are involved.
  • Be clear about deadlines and advise the other party of future issues in advance.
    • Communication issues over dates is a key dispute in many of cases if they end up in litigation.
  • Keep the lines of communication open.
    • So many potential disputes may be resolved through simple and direct communication.
  • Give yourself an extra cushion of time for the work to be done. Delays may happen for a variety of reasons (weather, for example) beyond anybody’s control.

Even with all the best preparation, delays and cost-overruns should still be planned for. Ultimately, though, most people are reasonable and will be able to work through any issues they may have.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, we encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Our office frequently handles this types of matters. For a free initial consultation, please contact us at (517) 507-5077.

For information on Deeds under Michigan Law, click here.
For information on Nuisance claims under Michigan law, click here.
For information on the Summary Proceedings Act, under Michigan Law, click here.
For information on real-estate litigation, notably lawsuits involving homeowners and builders, click here.

 

OUI’s…still no relief under the Amended Laws to expunge prior Convictions…

No relief for Traffic Offenses under the new, Amended Laws to expunge prior Convictions…

There has been a lot in the news recently about changes to the expungement laws in Michigan. It was a significant step by the Legislature. The new amendments offer hope for people convicted of certain types of offenses, notably drug convictions. More importantly, people with multiple counts of certain types of offenses may also be eligible for the first time. …see MCL 780.621, amended Am. 2014, Act 335, Eff. Jan. 14, 2015; See also House Bill No. 4186, entered as PA 463 of 2014, in the process of being codified.

Unfortunately, however, for people convicted of certain of offenses under Michigan law, notably traffic offenses, the traditional routes to seal and expunge convictions will still not be available.

Under the new amended Michigan law, the expungment statute, …see MCL 780.621, amended Am. 2014, Act 335, Eff. Jan. 14, 2015; See also House Bill No. 4186, entered as PA 463 of 2014, in the process of being codified., under section (3)(d) excludes traffic offenses, meaning convictions for offenses prosecuted under the motor-vehicle code cannot usually be expunged. See also MCL 780.621a (1a)(b)( “Traffic offense” means a violation of the Michigan vehicle code, Act No. 300 of the Public Acts of 1949, being sections 257.1 to 257.923 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, or a local ordinance substantially corresponding to that act, which violation involves the operation of a vehicle and at the time of the violation is a felony or misdemeanor.).

While traffic charges and convictions may be set-aside, dismissed, dropped, or sealed for other reasons (appeals, juvenile-offender status, court-order, not-guilty verdicts, nolle-prosequi orders, etc.), it is a much more difficult process to attempt to seal or set-aside a conviction because these types of charges have been excluded from Michigan’s expungment law, MCL 780.621. For example, according to the Michigan Court of Appeals, data in 2012, only around 21.5% of all criminal appeals resulted in either partial or full vacate/remand; meaning across all criminal-law related appeals, in 78.5% of the cases filed, the Court of Appeals affirmed a prior ruling or decision by the lower court. Again, these numbers reflect all criminal-offense related appeals to the Court-of-Appeals. It is safe to surmise that the odds of a person successfully appealing an OUI conviction to either a circuit court from district court, or to the Court of Appeals from a circuit court, are even less than the 21.5 percent.

The longevity of a possible conviction should be a consideration if a person is charged with an OUI/OWI. The collateral ramifications for this type of conviction will linger for a long period of time. There is no direct way to remove a prior conviction currently under the expungment law.

These new amendments will potentially allow a significant percentage of new people with prior convictions to have their convictions set-aside; however, it offers no relief for people convicted of offenses that would be classified as “traffic offenses.”

We represent clients throughout Michigan on traffic offenses and all types of criminal charges and appeals. For a free initial consultation, please call our Lansing office at (517) 507-5077.

For more information on other traffic offenses, such as Operating While Intoxicated, click here.

For information on additional Michigan Traffic offenses such as operating on a suspended/revoked/denied license, click here. 

For information on expunging prior non-traffic convictions, click here. 

Residential Leases: Fixed Term v. Month-to-Month

FIXED-TERM VERSUS MONTH-TO-MONTH LEASES

With residential leases, finding the right kind of lease is a common issue for both landlords and tenants. Each type of lease has their own set of pros and cons. The right lease depends on a person’s particular circumstances and how they anticipate their circumstances will be for the duration of the proposed lease. In more practical terms and in a broader, more general sense, the key issue is the trade-off of cost versus flexibility. The following is a general list of some of the pros and cons of two of the more common residential lease options, depending on most markets:

Month-to-Month Leases:

  • More flexible, in general, for both the parties;
  • May be terminated by either party with a thirty days’ notice;
  • May cost more per month, depending on the landlord, than a fixed term lease;
  • Less potential long-term costs;
  • Less stability; either party, for a litany of potential reasons, could just provide the thirty-days’ notice and terminate the lease;
  • A better fit for people who are uncertain about their long-term plans, whether it’s due to a possible sale of the property, career changes, life changes, school, etc.;
  • A better fit for people who may need to move on short-notice;
  • A better fit if a tenant is concerned about the condition of the property;
  • A better fit for both parties if they have respective concerns, in general, about the other party;
  • Legally easier, usually, for a landlord to evict a tenant;
  • Availability varies depending on the market; certain markets are so saturated, landlords do not typically offer this option.

Fixed Term Leases:

  • more stable for both the parties; both parties should reasonably expect the tenancy will last the listed term on the lease;
  • usually require a thirty days’ notice to terminate near the end of the lease, but the termination provision for a fixed-term lease may be amended depending on the written provision for termination in the written lease;
  • generally speaking, landlords in most markets charge less rent per-month for a fixed-term versus a month-to-month;
  • a better fit for most tenants if they plan on staying in a particular area, long term;
  • a better fit for most tenants if they do not anticipate any need to move quickly for the duration of the lease;
  • in certain markets, especially college towns, this may be the only viable option for a vast majority of landlords given the saturation of tenants, the cycle of moving patterns, and relative scarcity of rental-housing;
  • legally more complicated and costly if the parties wish to terminate the tenancy and if the matter proceeds to an eviction proceeding through the courts;
  • tenants may find it necessary to sublease if they wish to leave early, if their landlord permits them to sublease; otherwise, they may be in breach of the lease and could risk a potentially significant amount of rent being owed;
  • may be more costly, in general, for a tenant if they did need to leave early;
  • Landlords usually have more leverage if a tenant wants to leave early;

Regardless of the type of lease, a residential lease should always be in writing and in compliance with the numerous provisions applicable to residential leases according to Michigan law.

If you need specific legal advice, please privately consult with a lawyer. This blog post is a general discussion about leases, only, and is not intended as specific legal advice. Circumstances vary significantly depending on the parties and areas.

Our office frequently handles this types of matters. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.

For information on Deeds under Michigan Law, click here.
For information on Nuisance claims under Michigan law, click here.
For information on the Summary Proceedings Act, under Michigan Law, click here.
For information on real-estate litigation, notably lawsuits involving homeowners and builders, click here.

For more information on Notices to quit/terminate tenancy, a key form required to be provided to a vast majority of tenants prior to commencing eviction proceedings, click here.

Tips for Renters

Landlord-tenant law is a significant portion of our firm’s practice. We represent landlords and tenants across Michigan.

Renting is often an affordable and convenient way to find housing. However, Michigan law has a litany of rights and obligations for both tenants and landlords. Notably, there are several unique requirements for this area of the law (i.e., among others, the Summary Proceedings Act, MCL 600.5701 et. seq., The Landlord-Tenant Act, MCL 554.601 et. seq., and the Truth in Renting Act, MCL 554.631 et. seq.), and the local district courts often have a very busy landlord-tenant docket.

Tenants should approach a new lease with realistic expectations. A good landlord-tenant relationship often requires a significant amount of cooperation and patience for all involved. Tenants do not own the place; it is a more “limited” property right to use and enjoy the property, among other things. However, it is not a full conveyance, and remember, what a tenant does to the property may have significant ramifications.

Further, I would recommend the following:

Before and when you first move in:

Before you move in to your new rental unit, make sure you follow a few basic steps:

  1. Carefully review your lease and make sure you get a written copy of the lease. Your written lease will be a key issue if there is ever an eviction proceeding or litigation involving the lease.
  2. Make sure you understand the length of the lease, rent payments, pay close attention to late fees or other penalties, etc. Do you really need a year-lease or do you plan to move somewhere else in a six months? Is a month-to-month lease available?
  3. Get written copies of your lease and all documents from your landlord. Keep them in a safe place.
  4. Note where and how your landlord intends to be keep your security deposit.
  5. Get a checklist from your landlord.
  6. Pay close attention to the checklist and make sure everything is in working order prior to resubmitting it you landlord.
  7. Take a few pictures; especially if there are non-working appliances, issues the carpet, or other obvious issues with the rental space. With smart-phones, it is very convenient now to take and keep pictures of the rental space when you move in.
  8. If things are not in working order, notify your landlord, preferably in writing. Your landlord is entitled to “reasonable notice” and fixing issues may take a few days or longer depending on company and the issue.
  9. Rent from reputable rental companies and individuals you trust.
  10. Only have roommates that you trust.
  11. Don’t sign any lease unless you are absolutely committed to living there and make sure the terms are affordable. Leases, especially fixed-term leases, may hard to get released from if “life events” occur (divorces, unemployment, etc.). A month-to-month lease may be a better option if you anticipate some life-altering events happening over the next year (new job, transfer, different school, etc.) as opposed to a fixed term lease.

During your lease:

  1. Document any concerns you have about your rental in letters sent to the rental management company.
  2. Use letters when you have a maintenance issue as well as phone calls. Be polite but explain the issue in sufficient detail.
  3. Keep copies of any maintenance requests or receipts with your lease and other documents.
  4. If you intend to fix, alter, or do anything to the interior or exterior, make sure provide notice to your landlord in writing and have their permission to do so.
  5. If you wish to sublease, and if it is permissible to do so under the terms of your lease, make sure you get your landlord’s permission to do so. Preferably, have your sub-leaser just take over the lease completely.
  6. If you have a serious maintenance issues, notify your landlord immediately. If they fail to respond, again, make sure you document their response in a written letter to your landlord prior to any self-help efforts to fix the matter.

When you move out:

  1. Provide proper notice to your landlord, as required, prior to your new move date. For a month to month lease, a 30-day notice is typically required. Your lease provides more information.
  2. Carefully review your closing checklist and thoroughly inspect your rental unit.
  3. If possible, take pictures of the interior, including appliances, etc.
  4. Put your new address in the form of a letter, mailed to your rental management company, ideally when you move out but no later than a few days afterward. Ask that your security deposit or any other correspondences be sent there.
  5. If there are any issues after you move, document them and respond in writing. Phone calls alone are not enough; Michigan law requires written notice for many things.

Additional Resources

If you end up in litigation with your landlord, legal assistance may be available regardless of your income level.

Legal clinics like the Michigan State University College of Law, Rental Housing Clinic, have excellent resources available online and may provide tenants or landlords with legal services if eligible.

There are also Legal Aid services available state-wide depending on income and screening eligibility.

Some courts may even provide free or low-cost legal services for tenants. However, please note this varies significantly depending on the county and local district court, so always call the your district court and check; do not assume these services will always be available.

Lastly, there are referral services including: The Michigan State Bar Lawyer Referral Information Service (800) 968-0738, among others. These referral services may provide a list of local attorneys who may be able to provide further assistance.

This is not an exhaustive list.

Both landlords and tenants have rights and responsibilities. Landlord-tenant agreements are an affordable and viable way to obtain housing. However, the parties must always remember that these leases carry significant legal obligations and require a certain amount of patience and cooperation by both the tenant and the landlord.

Our office frequently handles this types of matters. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.

For more information on Notices to quit/terminate tenancy, a key form required to be provided to a vast majority of tenants prior to commencing eviction proceedings, click here.
For more information on Michigan’s Summary Proceeding Act, click here.
For information on the differences between month-to-month versus fixed term leases, please click here.

Retail Fraud, First Degree

file0001305562393

If you are charged with an offense and cannot afford to pay for your own defense, the court may appoint you an attorney payable at the public’s expense. You have a right to counsel.

The following is a series of posts on various types of criminal charges. This series of posts will start with what are commonly known as “theft offenses.”

Loss and theft prevention is a big issue for retailers. Stores, especially larger chains, often have advanced surveillance, loss-prevention employees, and train their staff in techniques designed to deter or minimize losses from theft. However, even with all of these measures, theft offenses still cost larger retailers millions of dollars in losses and these cases still comprise a significant portion of a local court’s misdemeanor docket.
“Retail Fraud, First Degree”, MCL 750.356 (3) & MCL 750.356c, a felony charge, is the most severe offense out of the “retail fraud charges,” and carries significantly more sanctions for conviction than retail fraud second or third degree, MCL 750.356 (4) & (5) and MCL 750.356d. It is often charged against people who allegedly “shop-lift” merchandise from merchants and retailers when the value of the allegedly stolen merchandise has a value over $1,000.00.

If the accused individual already has a prior conviction for retail fraud second degree, MCL 750.356 (4); MCL 750.356d, they may be charged with retail fraud first degree even if the value is between $200.00 and $1000.00 pursuant to MCL 750.356c (2).

The maximum possible penalties for a conviction may include “imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.” MCL 750.356c (2). Further, since it is a felony charge, a convicted individual could also face up to five years of probation as well or other sanctions at the court’s discretion.

In general terms, retail fraud first-degree is the most severe of the “retail fraud” charges. It is also considered a “crime against dishonesty.” As with any theft offense, and as with any felony, there are collateral consequences that go well beyond the courts if a person is convicted of this charge.

As noted in the Michigan Rules of Evidence, convictions involving a “crime against dishonesty” may be used against someone by an opposing lawyer if they ever testify in another court-proceeding to attack their credibility.

A conviction for this type of charge, for example, may also impact a person’s ability to find work in certain fields. A lot of employers, especially those professions involving the financial industry, may be deeply concerned about an applicant or employee if they have this type of conviction on their record.

Since it is felony charge, a felony conviction would impact a person in ways beyond what is listed here. For a list of the additional potential sanctions, please visit the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and their website, which has an informative article on the lost privileges of convicted felons.

If convicted, as a felony, it could stay on a person’s record for a long period of time.

However, certain people, especially younger alleged offenders between the ages of 17-20 who are interested in potentially pleading guilty may be eligible for diversionary programs such the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (see MCL 762.11-762.16), which, if completed, could keep a conviction from being entered in their public record. Diversionary programs often require probation and generally need to be negotiated through the plea-bargaining process prior to any trials.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, we encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Our office frequently handles this types of matters. For a free initial consultation, please contact us at (517) 507-5077.

For information on the Michigan charge, “Uttering & Publishing,” click here.

For information on Michigan’s embezzlement charge, click here.

For information on the less severe, misdemeanor charge called, under Michigan law, Retail Fraud, Second Degree, click here.
For information on the less severe, misdemeanor charge called, under Michigan law, Retail Fraud, Third Degree, click here.

Retail Fraud, Second Degree

Loss and theft prevention is a big issue for retailers. Stores, especially larger chains, often have advanced surveillance, loss-prevention employees, and train their staff in techniques designed to deter or minimize losses from theft. However, even with all of these measures, theft offenses still cost larger retailers millions of dollars in losses and these cases still comprise a significant portion of a local court’s misdemeanor docket.

“Retail Fraud, Second Degree”,MCL 750.356 (4),MCL 750.356d (1)(b) is more severe offense than retail fraud third degree, MCL 750.356 (5), MCL 750.356d (4), and is often charged against people who allegedly “shop-lift” merchandise from merchants and retailers when the value of the allegedly stolen merchandise has a value over $200.00 and less than $1,000.00.

If the accused individual already has a prior conviction for retail fraud third degree, MCL 750.356 (5), they may be charged with retail fraud second degree even if the value is under $200.00 pursuant to MCL 750.356d (4); MCL 750.356 (4)(b).

Retail fraud, second degree a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by “imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine,” MCL 750.356 (4), costs, restitution, probation up to two years, or other sanctions at the court’s discretion.

In general terms, this particular charge, MCL 750.356 (4), MCL 750.356d (1)(b) carries significantly greater sanctions for a conviction than a retail fraud third degree. However, it is not as severe as some of the other theft offenses which will be discussed in later posts because it is still a considered a misdemeanor. It is also considered a “crime against dishonesty.” As with any theft offense, there are collateral consequences that go well beyond the courts if a person is convicted of this charge.

As noted in the Michigan Rules of Evidence, convictions involving a “crime against dishonesty” may be used against someone by an opposing party if they ever testify in another court-proceeding to attack their credibility.

A conviction for this type of charge, for example, may also impact a person’s ability to find work in certain fields. A lot of employers, especially those professions involving the financial industry, may be deeply concerned about an applicant or employee if they have this type of conviction on their record.

If convicted, as a misdemeanor, it could stay on a person’s record for a long period of time.

However, certain people, especially younger alleged offenders between the ages of 17-20 who are interested in potentially pleading guilty may be eligible for diversionary programs such the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (see MCL 762.11-762.16), which, if completed, could keep a conviction from being entered in their public record. Diversionary programs often require probation and generally need to be negotiated through the plea-bargaining process prior to any trials.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, we encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Our office frequently handles this types of matters. For a free initial consultation, please contact us at (517) 507-5077.

Retail Fraud, Third Degree

Loss and theft prevention is a big issue for retailers. Stores, especially larger chains, often have advanced surveillance, loss-prevention employees, and train their staff in techniques designed to deter or minimize losses from theft. However, even with all of these measures, theft offenses still cost larger retailers millions of dollars in losses and these cases still comprise a significant portion of a local court’s misdemeanor docket.

“Retail Fraud, Third Degree”, MCL 750.356 (5), MCL 750.356d (4) is often charged against people who allegedly “shop-lift” merchandise from merchants and retailers when the value of the allegedly stolen merchandise is under $200.00. This offense may also be charged as some variation based on a local municipal ordinance; however, the possible maximum punishments are often similar.

This is a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by up to ninety-three days in jail, “a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater,” MCL 750.356 (5), MCL 750.356d (4) costs, restitution, probation up to two years, or other sanctions at the court’s discretion.

In general terms, this particular charge, MCL 750.356 (5), MCL 750.356d (4) is the least severe of the theft offenses that will be discussed in later posts. However, it is considered a “crime against dishonesty,” and as a theft offense, there are collateral consequences that go well beyond the courts if a person is convicted of this charge.

As noted in the Michigan Rules of Evidence, convictions involving a “crime against dishonesty,” may be used against someone by an opposing lawyer if they ever testify in another court-proceeding to attack their credibility.

A conviction for this type of charge, for example, may also impact a person’s ability to find work in certain fields. A lot of employers, especially those professions involving the financial industry, may be deeply concerned about an applicant or employee if they have this type of conviction on their record.

If convicted, as a misdemeanor, it could stay on a person’s record for a long period of time.

However, certain people, especially younger alleged offenders between the ages of 17-20 who are interested in potentially pleading guilty may be eligible for diversionary programs such the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (see MCL 762.11-762.16), which, if completed, could keep a conviction from being entered in their public record. Diversionary programs often require probation and generally need to be negotiated through the plea-bargaining process prior to any trials.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, we encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Our office frequently handles this types of matters. For a free initial consultation, please contact us at (517) 507-5077.

 

 

 

Pre-trial bond is not out of reach

When a person is arrested and arraigned on a criminal misdemeanor or felony, bond is frequently an issue. When magistrates and arraigning judges determine a bond or bail amount, the purpose is not to punish someone for being charged. Unless a person is charged a violent capitol offense such as murder, there should be some type of bond or bail. Courts look at a variety of factors, with their primary focus on a person’s perceived threat to the community and possible flight risk.

Further, the amount or conditions are not set in stone. Bond conditions may be challenged or modified later on by motion, or the presiding judge may decide to add additional conditions to a bond. The process of determining a bond amount varies significantly depending on the particular county, type of offense, whether a person has a past criminal history, and many of the factors.

However, this guide provides some insight into what the courts are supposed to examine when the amount is set.

Types of Bond

There are two important components with different types of bonds. First, there is the listed amount for the bond. This is a monetary determination made by the arraigning or presiding judge or magistrate. The second classification addresses how that bond can be posted. This guide lists some of the more common types of bonds. For more detailed information, please review Michigan Court Rule (herein-after “MCR”) 6.106.

  • “Personal Recognizance:” Here, a person does not need to post any sort of bond to remain free from custody as their case proceeds.Common with less severe misdemeanors.
  • “Cash/Surety:” A person needs to either post the listed amount or either obtain a bondsman who can provide a surety or negotiate some of type of “surety” agreement with the court.
  • “10%:” A person needs to only pay 10% of the listed amount. There may be additional classifications or modifications depending on a person’s county of residence. Some judges may require a GPS tether for example.

Bond Factors

MCR 6.106 (F) (1) (a-i) lists the following bond factors: (a) defendant’s prior criminal record, including juvenile offenses; (b) defendant’s record of appearance or nonappearance at court proceedings or flight to avoid prosecution; (c) defendant’s history of substance abuse or addiction; (d) defendant’s mental condition, including character and reputation for dangerousness; (e) the seriousness of the offense charged, the presence or absence of threats, and the probability of conviction and likely sentence; (f) defendant’s employment status and history and financial history insofar as these factors relate to the ability to post money bail; (g) the availability of responsible members of the community who would vouch for or monitor the defendant; (h) facts indicating the defendant’s ties to the community, including family ties and relationships, and length of residence, and (i) any other facts bearing on the risk of nonappearance or danger to the public.

General Advice

Some general tips prior to being arraigned on a felony or misdemeanor charge:

  • Have a trusted friend or family member appear at your arraignment. It’ll be potentially important to have someone available.
  • Never assume you’ll be given a personal recognizance bond. Even with misdemeanor offenses, an arraigning judge may still insist on a small cash bond. Make sure you bring some cash or bring a trusted friend or family member with some money in case you need to post a bond.
  • Have the cards of a few bondsman with you. If you know you may have to post in advance, it helps to have the contact information about bondsman in your local area.
  • Bring personal paperwork with you regarding your employment, medical conditions, etc. As noted above, the court looks at these factors.
  • Retain council and have legal representation at your arraignment. The right lawyer who represents you well could make the difference between walking out that day or getting stuck with a big bond.

For additional information, please visit the following link:

Michigan Court Rules

Our experienced trial attorneys fight hard for our Michigan clients. We represent clients statewide. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.

For more information on Michigan criminal law, click here.

For information on Michigan No-Contest pleas, click here.

For information on expunging prior non-traffic convictions under Michigan law, click here.

For information on Michigan probation violations, click here.

Recent Entries »