Author Archives: Matt Van Steenkiste

Michigan Fireworks Laws

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iStock 000016947992Medium 300x300 Michigan Fireworks LawsMichigan Fireworks Laws:

The Fourth of July has come and gone but fireworks can still be heard in neighborhoods all around Detroit when the sun goes down. Michiganders have been enjoying relaxed state fireworks rules since Governor Synder signed the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act of 2011. This act allows aerial fireworks to be legally purchased within Michigan state lines, making it easier for consumers to put on their own impressive firework displays around the holidays.

The law states that local governments may create their own ordinances to regulate the use of consumer fireworks as long as the local ordinances do not restrict the use of consumer fireworks on the day before, of, or after a national holiday except to dictate that fireworks cannot be discharged within certain hours. Localities with a population of 50,000 or more may prohibit use from midnight or 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. and localities with a population of less than 50,000 may prohibit use from 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Violating a local fireworks ordinance comes with a fine of up to $500.00 so it is best to refer to your city or town’s ordinance before you use fireworks.

The Act also prohibits the use of fireworks by someone that is under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances or from use on public property. An individual that violates these provisions could be fined up to $500.00.

Recently, Michigan state Senator Glenn Anderson stated that he is working to repeal the 2011 Act and prevent the sale of high-powered fireworks within Michigan.   His primary concern is that the expected economic benefits of allowing sales don’t outweigh the risks to Michiganders’ health of widespread use. Individuals across Michigan feel the same way and have concerns about the noise implications. Local governments are responding to these concerns by strictly enforcing the law.

Violations come with a significant penalty. If you have violated the Act or a firework ordinance, contact the attorneys at Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or send us a private message. We will help you assess your options and discuss how to proceed.

 

Sued by Ally Financial, Inc.?

iStock 000041951814Small 1 300x300 Sued by Ally Financial, Inc.?Sued by Ally Financial, Inc.? Do you owe money for unpaid car, credit card, or various loans? Have you fallen behind on your payments? Many individuals find themselves in a difficult situation, unable to pay off their loans, due to unforeseen circumstances such as the loss of a job. In these instances, consumers should be aware of all options available in order to protect themselves in the event that the creditor takes legal action against them.

If you have been sued by a financial institution such as Ally Financial, Inc. or have fallen behind on loan payments there are a few things you should know. Ally Financial, Inc., like many companies, is multi-faceted and includes the subsidiary of Ally Bank. This company issues a number of loans and may take action to collect them on its own behalf. In some instances the companies are willing to settle. An experienced debt defense attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Further, some companies may exercise abusive debt collection behavior so it is important to be informed of what is not permitted behavior.

Alternatively, if you have not been sued by your creditor, you should know that you do not necessarily have to wait until the company makes the first move. In fact, it may be more advantageous to consult a debt defense attorney before that point in order to discuss your options.

The collections process can be challenging to undergo. If a creditor such as Ally Financial, Inc. has sued you or if you’ve fallen behind on your payments and would like a free consultation, please contact the attorneys at Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 or contact us with a private message.

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Michigan Implied Consent Law

iStock 000012031771Small 300x300 Michigan Implied Consent LawMichigan Implied Consent Law: The Risk of Refusing Tests

If you are a Michigan resident, you should be aware that the act of operating a vehicle enters you into an implicit agreement to submit to alcohol testing. MCL 257.625c dictates that any individual who operates a motor vehicle on a public highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles within the state is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of his or her blood, breath, or urine to determine if he or she has been using alcohol or another controlled substance in certain circumstances. These circumstances include if you are being arrested for operating while intoxicated or while visibly impaired.

Violations occur when an individual is arrested under one of the provisions cited in MCL 257.625c including operating while intoxicated and the driver has refused to submit to a breath test. Though it is not mandatory that you submit to a breath test, you should know that refusal is de facto an implied consent violation. Some individuals refuse under the assumption that it may help them avoid the primary charge including operating while intoxicated. However, the officer will almost always proceed to obtain a warrant to do the testing and the implied consent violation has already occurred.

An individual seeking to challenge the refusal violation must request a hearing within 14 days of the date of notice. Time is of the essence in these cases. The ramification of violating the implied consent provision is a one-year suspension of your operator’s license. Note that this applies only to the first refusal. If you refuse a second time within seven years of the first refusal, your operator’s license may be suspended for a period of two years. There may also be special ramifications if you have a commercial operator’s license.

There is an exception to the implied consent rule under MCL 257.625(c)(2) for individuals that suffer from hemophilia, diabetes or other conditions requiring the use of an anticoagulant which may justify the refusal to submit to a blood test. This defense should be raised by your attorney because an officer may neglect to include this information in his report thus subjecting you to punishment.

Losing your operator’s license has a severe impact on your life economically and socially. If you were arrested for operating while intoxicated or any of the other offenses cited in MCL 257.625c and refused to submit to alcohol testing, contact the attorneys at Garmo & Kiste, PLC. We have extensive experience handling cases in the Metro Detroit area, giving is the expertise necessary to handle these intricate cases. Contact Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 now for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

Cell Phone Searches and the 4th Amendment

iStock 000005022838Medium 300x300 Cell Phone Searches and the 4th Amendment Cell Phone Searches and the 4th Amendment: You’re Going to Need a Warrant for That

A recent Supreme Court ruling took a strong stance in support of privacy, preventing law enforcement officers from searching individuals’ cell phones without a warrant. The Supreme Court made a combined, unanimous decision over Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie that police officers generally must obtain a warrant before searching a suspect’s cell phone regardless of what type of cell phone it is.

In the first case the Court discussed, the defendant was stopped for a traffic violation. After law enforcement accessed information on his cell phone, he was charged with a weapons offense and associated with gang activity. In the second case the Court discussed, the defendant was arrested after police officers believed they observed him engaging in a drug deal. Law enforcement officials then used information on his cell phone to determine the location of his residence, obtained a search warrant and found drugs and other contraband at the premises. The defendant was charged with drug and firearm offenses. In both of these cases, the defendants sought to have the evidence that had been discovered as a result of the cell phone searches excluded. In support of the searches, the government argued that a search of the data stored on a cell phone is “materially indistinguishable” from searching the types of physical items that are typically found on suspects such as address books and purses. Therefore, the government argued that law enforcement officials should be able to search cell phones without a warrant. The Court rejected this argument, humorously noting that, under the government’s logic, a ride on horseback would be materially indistinguishable from a flight to the moon.

Despite this, the Court did state that the exigent circumstances exception could apply, allowing an officer to search a cell phone without a warrant. Under this exception, an officer can search the information contained in a cell phone if it is necessary to prevent an imminent danger. Additionally, the Court stated that law enforcement officers may physically search a cell phone in order to ensure their personal safety. For example, an officer may examine the physical aspects of the cell phone in order to determine that a weapon is not hidden on or in it. Further, this ruling does not denote that cell phones cannot be searched at all; it merely states that officers must obtain a warrant before they perform a search of the cell phone.

Ultimately the Court’s ruling protects individuals’ privacy by requiring law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before searching the information contained in cell phones. This case reinforces privacy interests in a technologically saturated world and serves as an example of how technological evolution may cause us to reconsider the scope of our constitutional rights.

For more information about criminal defense, Contact Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or send us a private message.

Detroit Curfew Laws

iStock 000021432631Medium 300x300 Detroit Curfew LawsThe Detroit fireworks went off without a hitch last Monday, despite the threat of thunderstorms. However, the night was cut short for a number of young viewers. Detroit police officers were out in full force on and one of their goals was to implement the modified curfew. The Detroit curfew law was altered for Monday night, dictating that individuals under 17 years of age needed to be accompanied by an adult after 6 p.m. Ultimately over 100 juveniles were detained for violating the curfew.

The default curfew is less restrictive, though the penalties are significant. The standard Detroit curfew law dictates that it is unlawful for a minor to be on a public street, sidewalk, playground, vacant lot, or other unsupervised pubic place, or in a place of entertainment (including movie theaters and restaurants) during certain times. The Ordinance organizes the rules by age:

  • For minors age 15 and under: from 8:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. during standard time and from 10:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. during daylight savings time.
  • For minors ages 16 and 17: from 10:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m., except Fridays and Saturdays: from 11:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. during standard time and from 11:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. during daylight savings time.

(Sections 33-3-11 and 33-3-12, Ord. No. 30-08, § 1, 12-9-08)

The curfew rules do not apply to private residences, private clubs, schools, churches, duly-licensed family hobby and recreation centers, fraternal organizations, or any other civic agency, organization or institution.

If a minor commits a delinquent act by violating the above referenced rules, the parent could be held responsible. The first conviction for violating the Ordinance subjects the parent to a fine between 75 and 100 dollars. The second violation subjects the parent to a fine between 100 and 500 dollars. All subsequent violations subject the parent to a fine between 250 and 500 dollars and, if the court chooses, confinement in the county jail for between 15 and 90 days or probation upon the condition that the parent participate in a government sponsored mandatory work program for the duration of the sentence. (Sec. 33-6-4. Ord. No. 9-87, § 1, 3-25-87)

Questions about Detroit Curfew Laws? If your child violated the curfew you may be forced to pay significant fines or face other serious penalites. For more information about or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

 

Commercial Motor Vehicle License Penalties

iStock 000009557999Medium 300x300 Commercial Motor Vehicle License PenaltiesCommercial Motor Vehicle License Penalties:

Everyone understands that drinking and driving not only puts yourself and others at risk of serious injury, but it also endangers your ability to have an Operator’s License. The stakes are even higher if you are one of thousands of people that have a commercial motor vehicle license (CMV license), especially if you rely on the CMV License for employment reasons. This may be because Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) are particularly dangerous because they weigh more than 26,000 pounds. (MCL 257.7a)

Your CMV License may be suspended for up to one year if you are convicted of a number of offenses including Operating While Intoxicated and Operating While Visibly Impaired while operating a CMV or even a noncommercial vehicle.

Effectively, any convictions or license suspensions for anything related to a violation while operating a noncommercial vehicle count against the you as if you were operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time the offense occurred. (MCL 257.319b(7)) In fact, if you are convicted or found responsible for a combination of two of these types of offenses, your CMV license can be revoked for life.

This law may seem unfair but there are options available to individuals in these types of situations. For example, under MCL 257.319b(1)(e), if your CMV license was revoked, you may be eligible for reissuance of the CMV license after 10 years.

Many people base their livelihood on having a Commercial Motor Vehicle License. If you have lost or are in danger of losing your CMV License or Operator’s License, Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. We’ll discuss your options and help you take the wheel again.

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act

iStock 000008541367Small 300x300 The Fair Debt Collections Practices ActThe Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) is a key piece of legislation that protects consumers from inappropriate debt collection behavior. It is not uncommon for companies to utilize extreme tactics in order to attempt to collect sums of money. So where does the statute draw the line between acceptable debt collection behavior and those that are unacceptable? The following are examples of behaviors the FDCPA has deemed illegitimate.

  • Under Section 805, the debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at any unusual time or place. The general rule the FDCPA establishes is that the window for communication is between 8 am and 9 pm. Additionally, if you have hired an attorney to represent you in regard to the debt collection, the debt collector is not permitted to communicate with you unless your attorney is not responding.
  • Further, under Section 806, a debt collector may not engage in any conduct which consequentially harasses, oppresses or abuses any person in connection with the collection of a debt. This includes violent threats, using obscene or profane language, and repeatedly calling with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass.
  • There are other illegal behaviors that are more subtle including making false, deceptive or misleading representations in connection with the collection of debt such as falsely representing the amount of debt, implying that an individual is an attorney when they are not, and threatening legal action that cannot be taken.

If a debt collector fails to comply with this law, they are liable for the actual damages sustained as a result of their breach and other damages up to $1,000.00. As a consumer, it is important to know your rights and defend them when they are infringed upon. If a debt collector has employed any of the tactics above or engaged in other questionable conduct, contact the attorneys of Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 or send us a private message for more information about what to do next.

 

Michigan Credit Reporting Error Repair Attorneys

iStock 000019102849Small 300x300 Michigan Credit Reporting Error Repair AttorneysMichigan Credit Reporting Error Repair Attorneys:

Checking your credit report is one of the most important things you can do as a credit consumer.  The three main credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, are responsible for maintaining credit files of millions of Americans.  Some of these credit files have errors.  In fact, the FTC conducted a study of the U.S. credit reporting industry in 2012 which revealed that 5% of consumers had significant errors on at least one of their three credit reports.  This study highlighted the importance of regularly checking your credit report for errors.  These errors can lead to lower credit scores.  Lower scores have a serious impact on your wallet.

So how can you get your credit report?  The Federal Credit Reporting Act dictates that each of the three main credit reporting agencies must provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once a year, upon request.  To order your credit report, call 1-877-322-8228 or visit AnnualCreditReport.com for a printable order form.  You may also purchase a copy of your report by contacting the agencies individually.

What do mistakes look like?  Some agencies may report  mortgages that were the subject of short sales as foreclosures, include debts that were paid off, report negative factors that had to do with documented identity theft that were out of your control, or even post debts that belong to someone else.

What should you do if you find a mistake?  First, you should write a letter to dispute the mistake with the credit agency that reported it.  Some individuals successfully proceed with the dispute process.  However, many consumers find that credit agencies don’t always resolve these situations or even respond to communications.  These are the individuals that may need to take legal action in order for the agency to fix the mistake.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides remedies to consumers that have mistakes on their credit report.  Consumers may, through legal action, recover actual damages that resulted from the mistake such as economic harm and emotional distress and punitive or statutory damages in some situations.  If you have found a mistake and are having a difficult time with a credit reporting agency, call the attorneys at Garmo & Kiste, PLC.  We will help you take the steps necessary to resolve the situation.  Contact Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or send us a private message.

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Michigan Spot Delivery and Automobile Dealer Fraud Attorneys / Spot Delivery and Yo-Yo Financing

iStock 000017289207Small1 300x300 Michigan Spot Delivery and Automobile Dealer Fraud Attorneys / Spot Delivery and Yo Yo FinancingMichigan Spot Delivery and Automobile Dealer Fraud Attorneys / Spot Delivery and Yo-Yo Financing:

Purchasing a car is a very exciting life event.  You find a match, sign the paperwork, make a down-payment and get the keys.  Most consumers would assume that’s the end of the transaction but a certain practice conducted by some dealerships may make it possible for the dealership to reclaim the vehicle at a later date and time.  This practice is called Spot Delivery.  This is when a car dealership will tell a customer that they have been approved for financing and complete the paperwork and sale without knowing if a finance company will actually purchase the customer’s credit contract.  The dealership will give the customer a temporary registration number and if a finance company will not purchase the customer’s credit contract, then the dealership may decide to reclaim the vehicle.  This is called Yo-Yo financing.  The dealership may employ deceptive tactics to regain possession of the property including luring customers in under false pretenses such as the opportunity to receive free services.  Sometimes the dealership will even refuse to return the down payment.

Not only is Spot Delivery unethical but this is considered an illegal practice in Michigan.  Customers that have suffered from this practice may recover the value of the vehicle and sometimes other damages under the Truth In Lending Act and the Michigan Credit Reform Act.

If you have been the victim of Spot Delivery or Yo-Yo Financing, call the attorneys at Garmo & Kiste, PLC.  We are experienced attorneys that will fight for your rights.  Contact Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 now for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

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Michigan Juvenile Expungement Lawyer

iStock 000009770048Small 300x300 Michigan Juvenile Expungement LawyerMichigan Juvenile Expungement Lawyer:

Many people think that if you were convicted of a crime as a juvenile, that crime will not be on your record. However, many times that is not the case and these convictions will still appear on a background check. Thankfully, the juvenile expungement statute is somewhat more lenient than that for adults (although the adult statute has recently changed to include the concept of exempt minor offenses). Under MCL 712A.18e, a person who has been adjudicated of not more than 1 juvenile offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult and not more than 3 juvenile offenses, of which not more than 1 may be a juvenile offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult and who has no felony convictions may file an application with the adjudicating court or adjudicating courts for the entry of an order setting aside the adjudications. A person may have only 1 adjudication for an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult and not more than 2 adjudications for an offense that would be a misdemeanor if committed by an adult or if there is no adjudication for a felony if committed by an adult, not more than 3 adjudications for an offense that would be a misdemeanor if committed by an adult set aside under this section. Multiple adjudications arising out of a series of acts that were in a continuous time sequence of 12 hours or less and that displayed a single intent and goal constitute 1 offense provided that none of the adjudications constitute any of the following:

  • (a) An assaultive crime as that term is defined in subsection (7).
  • (b) An offense involving the use or possession of a weapon.
  • (c) An offense with a maximum penalty of 10 or more years imprisonment.

This means you are eligible if you have 1 juvenile offense which would have been a felony as an adult, and not more than two equivalent misdemeanors, and no felony convictions. You are also eligible if you have three juvenile offenses that would be the equivalent of misdemeanors.

Just as with the adult expungement statute, some exceptions apply including:

  • 1)     The offense cannot be punishable by life in prison if it were the adult version of the crime;
  • 2)     You can’t expunge traffic offenses;

To retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC, for assistance in these matters call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. We are experienced Michigan attorneys with offices in Troy, MI.