Michigan Upholds Prosecutors’ Duty to Investigate Crimes

Prosecutors Must Provide Exculpatory Evidence to DefendantsThis may come as a surprise, but in criminal cases, prosecuting attorneys are required to investigate the possibility that defendants are innocent. They have a constitutional duty to turn over evidence tending to prove a defendant’s innocence even when that information was known to some other government entity, like the police. For a long time that duty required the information to be otherwise unavailable, but not anymore. (more…)

Michigan Senate Allows Landlords to Ban Medical MariJuana

iStock_000011882614XSmallThe Michigan legislature considered several modifications to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) in 2013. Now it has begun again as the Senate passed a bill that will restrict where qualified patients will be allowed to cultivate and use their medication. (more…)

What Happens if My Roommate Lets the Police In?

Can Your Roommate Consent to a Police Search?It seems like everyone has a roommate these days. Whether it is a spouse, partner, friend, or just someone to help pay the rent, almost everyone shares their home with someone. So what happens if the police come to search your home? Can your roommate let them in over your objection? (more…)

How Does the Judge Decide on a Sentence?

What Factors in to a Criminal Sentence?When you’re faced with criminal charges, most attorneys talk in terms of worst-case scenario. They refer to crimes according to their statutory maximum sentence. Sure, they may remind you that you could get something lower than that, but how can you know? Once you are found guilty, how can you predict what your sentence will be? (more…)

Court Tells Spouse She Must Testify

Can the prosecutor make you testify in court?It used to be very hard for prosecutors to get one spouse to testify against the other in criminal proceedings. Over time changes to the law have made it easier. Now a recent Court of Appeals decision has swung the gate wide open, at least in certain kinds of cases. (more…)

Are Felony Firearm Laws Unconstitutional?

Are Felony Firearm Laws Unconstitutional?Did you know that it is illegal to carry a gun if you have been convicted of or served a sentence for a felony in the past 3 years? If you are among those who value your 2nd Amendment rights, that might come as a shock. You might ask if such a law is legal, now that the Supreme Court has guaranteed an individual’s right to bear arms. (more…)

Michigan Authorizes New Mental Health Courts

New Mental Health Courts give hope to the mentally illAs of December 30, 2013, there’s a new option available to criminal and juvenile defendants in Michigan. Or there will be if local courts choose to make it available. The option addresses the close connection between mental illness and criminal behavior to reduce the number of repeat offenders and allow the seriously mentally ill to receive treatment. (more…)

Why Is My Lawyer Asking That?

Lawyers ask a lot of questions. Here's why.

“Man Carrying Question Mark” by hyena reality on freedigitalphotos.net

If you come in for a consultation at Schmidt Law Services, or most other lawyers’ offices, you’ll be asked to fill out a lengthy information sheet. It might seem like more information that an attorney could ever need to handle your matter, but there really is a reason behind all those questions.

Information Required by the Court

Some of the things the lawyer asks for go directly onto forms required by the court. For example, the Friend of the Court requires hair and eye color, height and weight on their initial Title IV-D Application. That information is used to issue bench warrants if child support is not paid. If the information is not provided it can cause problems when a resolution is reached and your lawyer is trying to close the case.

Writing Out Your Story

Other questions on the information form could seem redundant. Especially if you are filing out the information right after your initial consultation it could feel like the attorney should already know what is going on in your case. But these kind of narrative questions serve two purposes:

  1. It corrects misunderstandings between you and your lawyer early on and makes sure you are on the same page regarding the facts and your priorities.
  2. Writing out your story will help you put things together in your mind and will give you something to refer back to in preparing to testify.

If you skip these questions you could find yourself at odds with your attorney because she relied on her interpretation of events, which might not be your interpretation.

Getting to Know You

There may also be questions on the information form that seem irrelevant to the case at hand. You might be asked about your volunteer affiliations or who you live with. These questions are designed to allow your lawyer, and through him your judge, to get to know who you are. One of the dangers of busy courts is that you can become just another face. By incorporating these personal details, your attorney can inspire empathy and help distinguish you from the rest of the docket.

It may seem like your lawyer asks a lot of questions, especially at the beginning of the case. But the inquiries are likely based on the attorney’s experience, the kind of questions she knows to expect, or efforts to make your case important to the judge. Take your time and answer as completely as you can, so that you can help your lawyer help you.

Medical Marijuana Caregiver Held to Medical Standard of Care

iStock_000011882614XSmallThe Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) provides protections to users of therapeutic marijuana and their caregivers. But a recent Court of Appeals opinion has put a big caveat on those protections, and it’s one of which caregivers had better take notice. (more…)

Court Says Mental Age is Irrelevant, Just Birthdays

Court Rules age the deciding factor for juvenile statusThere has been a lot of buzz in the legal community about juvenile offenders since the US Supreme Court ruled that they cannot be sentenced to mandatory life without parole last summer. But a recent 6th Circuit opinion seems to put a stop to softening sentences for immature defendants. (more…)