Author Archives: Matt Van Steenkiste
As part of the continuing “Judge Online” movement, several local courts recently signed with a software service that allows civil infractions, or even low level misdemeanor crimes to be handled online. Programs such as these are part of an increasing move to make courts more efficient. However, we still wouldn’t recommend that you go out try to negotiate your own ticket or misdemeanor.
The problem lies in the nature of the procedure the software requires. Per their own directions, step 2 is “if you’re willing to admit guilt but would like to negotiate for a lesser charge, you compose an explanation of your circumstances-perhaps even a justification of your actions- and submit it through the court’s website.” This is the exact opposite of how our attorneys would recommend that you proceed. Once you have admitted guilt, there is no incentive left for prosecutors and city attorneys to come to a deal. All they would have to do if you fought a ticket was prove your guilt. If you have just admitted guilt, why would they offer you a better deal? You have done their job for them. Even if this system provides marginally better deals, it does not match the value of meeting a prosecutor face to face to argue your case. Showing you are willing to hire an attorney to show up and fight your ticket demonstrates that you are not going to go away easily, and it is in the prosecutor’s best interest to give you a great deal.
The 74th District, 14A District, and 30th District courts are betting at you won’t do more than log on and ask for a reduction in the charge. However, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. Are you going to be satisfied with a slight reduction in the charge or do you want the best deal available? If you don’t want to roll the dice with your traffic record, or criminal record contact Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
Ann Arbor, Bay County and Highland Park Courts Online
Wondering about the new Michigan expungement law changes. Michigan law may now allow you to get a conviction removed from the public record? If so, you should be aware of changes to Michigan’s expungement statute.
Expungement allows a person who has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor to set aside that conviction and take the matter off the public record. When a conviction is on the public record it allows employers to see it when doing criminal history background checks. Therefore, expungement is crucial to those with a criminal conviction who are trying to get a second chance.
Michigan’s previous law would allow a person who has one felony conviction to apply to have that conviction expunged. Further, it would allow a person with two misdemeanor convictions to apply to have both of those convictions expunged. To apply, one must have completed probation, discharged from parole or finished imprisonment. Also, the applicant would have to wait a mandatory period of time starting on the date of sentencing.
However, the new law has made this process more difficult for the applicant. The mandatory period of time an applicant must wait after sentencing remains five years. Also, convictions for several common traffic offenses are still unable to be set aside, such as Operating While Intoxicated.
The most serious change is the new laws treatment of Deferrals and Dismissals. Generally, some misdemeanor violations allow a first time offender to defer his sentencing. Upon completion of probation, the charges to the offender would be dismissed. The new treatment of this rule provides that dismissals from deferrals would still be counted as a misdemeanor conviction when eligibility for expungement is being determined. Therefore, a first time offender who receives a deferred sentence, and whose case is ultimately dismissed, will still be effected by that dismissal if ever apply for expungement of another misdemeanor or felony.
In terms of expungement, it is important to distinguish the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is any offense punishable by not more than one year imprisonment, or a fine. A felony in this state is an offense punishable by more than one year of imprisonment. Therefore, a misdemeanor carrying a punishment of more than one year is defined as a felony.
Expungment is an extremely helpful tool in giving those with past criminal convictions a second chance. Those living with a conviction on their public record know so well how difficult it can be to find employment and give back to society. However, expungment can be a risky process for the applicant, as in the event the petition is denied, now one cannot re-file for another three years.
The dreaded day of April 15th is quickly approaching. Remember that you MUST file your return or request an extension to file by October 15th on this day to avoid penalties. It is important to keep in mind that when filing an extension, it is only an extension for filing purposes, NOT an extension on your obligation to pay. The amount due from the previous year’s tax return can be used as a guide to what you have to pay this year. We recommend that you always go to an experienced certified public accountant or tax attorney.
What happens if you cannot pay the balance due or have past due taxes?
With the dismal Michigan economy, there are many taxpayers who cannot afford to pay their tax debt. This results in the debt moving to the collection departments of the IRS or State. Whether it is personal taxes or business taxes that are owed, the IRS and State of Michigan are aggressive collectors. They have the ability to garnish your tax refunds, file liens on your property, garnish your paychecks, and even levy your bank accounts. They may even knock on your front door!
What we can do for you:
Fortunately the IRS does have an Offer in Compromise program. The State of Michigan, much like other states, has finally passed legislation for an Offer in Compromise program which began January 1, 2015. A “fresh start” program has been implemented allowing more lenient guidelines. Some notable Offer in Compromises accepted this past month for qualifying taxpayers have been:
-A onetime payment of $200 on an IRS debt of $75,000
-A onetime payment of $150 on an IRS debt of $25,000
In order to qualify, the State or IRS may want financial information from you such as, whether you or your spouse are working, if you have any medical hardship, if you own your own home or other property, and your bank statements. This information will be used to determine if you are eligible per their guidelines for a reduction in liability. Tax debt can be a stressful burden. If you have questions about your past due tax liability, or to retain a Michigan IRS Tax Debt Attorney / Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
Commit any crimes today? After you read this, you may be less sure of your answer. A report was recently published, “Overcriminalization in the Wolverine State,” outlining how out of control our legislatures have become. To clarify, there is not a higher crime rate in Michigan, there are just more crimes a person can be accused and/or convicted of. For example, recently our office represented an individual for the egregious misdemeanor of failing to have a lid on their trashcan. Some other examples from the article include:
■One man who disposed of scrap tires at a facility he thought was legal was sentenced to 270 days in prison and a $10,000 fine for unlawfully disposing of the tires since the facility did not have a license.
■A few years ago, a woman faced charges for operating an illegal day care simply because she helped her neighbor’s children get on the morning school bus.
■Other pitfalls include driving motor vehicles in a state wilderness area, purchasing a new or used motor vehicle on the weekend and transporting Christmas trees without a bill of sale.
■And here’s a sampling of new laws passed in 2012: It’s a crime to display any material containing the name of an elected Michigan official at a polling site; and also illegal to display an owner’s contact information on a barge.
While it is admirable for legislators to legislate against serious crimes, this proliferation of laws can have several unintended consequences. First, it can entrap law abiding citizens. We don’t want courts to waste their time pursuing non dangerous offenders. Secondly, this can divert law enforcement efforts away from dangerous criminals. Finally, a confusing legal code can lead to inconsistent applications of the laws, whether through mistake, or by design. Many of these esoteric laws are rarely used, and can be used as tools of oppression against communities that are more heavily surveyed by the police.
There is one consequence of these crimes that seems was fairly likely intentional: it brings in revenue for the state and municipalities. If you have been a victim of overzealous lawmakers, or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
Our experienced family law attorneys can help you work through your divorce.
If you are a single parent of minor children you may be wondering what payments you could be required to make or could receive to provide for your children. Payments of this type that cover health care, child care and educational expenses are referred to as child support. Payment of child support is determined and ordered by Circuit Court and may be part of a divorce proceeding.
A person may receive child support if they are the parent or guardian of a minor that lives in the person’s home when one or both of the child’s parents do not live in that home, the child is financially dependent on that person, and a child support order has been issued by a court. There is a formal process you must undergo in order to receive a court order for child support. Once support is ordered, the individual required to pay must do so in a timely manner. An organization called Friend of the Court will enforce the child support order if an individual fails to pay. Friend of the Court may do this in a number of ways including income withholdings, tax refund interceptions, or by bringing an action for civil contempt of court.
If a court has ordered child support to be paid to you and the other parent is withholding these payments, contact Garmo & Kiste, PLC. We are experienced attorneys that have the resources to help you get the money you need to care for your family. For more information about divorce or child support or call Garmo & Kiste, PLC Michigan Child Custody Attorney s at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
The holidays are approaching and this can be a very challenging time for families undergoing divorce, especially if there are minor children involved. As parents going through a divorce, you should know that you can negotiate how the holiday time will be spent. A holiday schedule will ultimately be ordered by the court but it may take into account the arrangement the parties desire. You may choose to share holidays or split them evenly by assigning certain holidays to one parent on even years and the other on odd years.
The holidays can be an emotionally difficult time if you are undergoing a divorce. One thing that may help is to try to plan events like dinners and present exchanges ahead of time. Take your schedule into account and plan ahead to ensure things run smoothly. If last-minute changes happen, try to be patient and flexible.
Additionally, consider reaching out to others for help when you’re working through a divorce during the holidays. Support from family and friends can help you focus on what the holidays are really about- enjoying the company of the people you care about.
If you have questions about holiday schedules or parenting time, call Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. Our experienced family law attorneys / Holiday Parenting Time in Michigan can help you work through your divorce.
Are you a student at Wayne State University that has been charged with a criminal offense? You should know this situation should not be taken lightly as criminal convictions can impact your entire life. Don’t let your youthful indiscretion impact your career.
Minor In Possession of Alcohol (MIP) is a common offense among college students but the fact that it is well-known does not lessen the consequences it may have. Under the Michigan Liquor Control Code Section 436.1703, the first offense can carry a fine, substance abuse treatment, and costly probation.
If you are 21 or older, you should know that there are also offenses that those of legal drinking age may be charged with. Your actions while under the influence of alcohol may still have negative consequences. For example, an officer may give you a Disorderly Person ticket under the Michigan Penal Code Section 750.167 for being intoxicated in public if they believe you are causing a disturbance. This carries a punishment of up to 90 days of imprisonment or a fine of up to $500.00. Also, many individuals over the age of 21 are charged with Operating While Intoxicated for getting behind the wheel after having one or two too many drinks. Under the Michigan Vehicle Code Section 257.625, this offense has serious consequences that may include imprisonment for up to 93 days and a fine of $500.00, depending on the situation.
If you have been charged with Minor In Possession of Alcohol, Disorderly Person, Operating While Intoxicated, or any other offense and are a student, contact the Minor In Possession of Alcohol Metro Detroit Lawyers at Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. As alumni of Wayne State University Law School, we know the value of a good education and know how important it is to start your career off right. We have all of the tools needed to minimize the negative impact of the charges you received and we bring years of experience and individualized attention to every case we handle. Contact us today.
Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) is one of the busiest airports in the United States. As such, safety and security are high priorities. In order to promote these goals, the Wayne County Airport Authority Board adopted a new Airport Ordinance in March of 2013. This document details the rules that apply to travelers.
Travelers may be familiar with an announcement made in the airport that luggage should not be left unattended. This is a warning that coincides with an Airport Ordinance. Section 6.7 states that, “[a] Person shall not abandon personal property upon Airport premises… Violation of Subsection 6.7 is a misdemeanor.” In fact, it appears that law enforcement officers have been taking this rule very seriously in recent months.
Travelers may be surprised that a number of other seemingly innocuous activities are considered misdemeanors under the Airport Ordinance if conducted at the airport. These include:
• Using roller skates or other similar devices
• Altering, defacing, or damaging any airport property including walls, floors, or even plants
• Gambling in any way without a permit
• Posting or distributing any informational or advertising materials without a permit
• Taking still, motion or sound pictures of or at the Airport for commercial purposes without a permit
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor for violating these or any other sections of the Ordinance, contact the attorneys at Garmo & Kiste, PLC. These charges should not be taken lightly as conviction will create a criminal record or add to an existing one.
Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) misdemeanor criminal charges? Dealing with Homeland Security, Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) or customs/immigration violations? To receive more information, call Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message
34th District Court
11131 Wayne Rd
The Michigan State Spartans are gearing up for another game this Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Spartans have had a strong season and many fans will be donning green and white and gathering in East Lansing to watch the game.
Fans will enjoy the fall weather on Michigan State’s beautiful campus and tailgate at the well-known tennis courts and beyond. Though the consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted in certain areas on campus, East Lansing law prohibits a number of acts that seem commonplace on football afternoons. As such, it is important to keep in mind that law enforcement officers will still be on the lookout for individuals committing offenses such as open intoxication, urinating in public and minor in possession.
Tickets for these offenses should be taken very seriously because they carry economic and social penalties. For example, an individual being cited for minor in possession the first time can face a $100 fine plus court costs, community service and substance abuse screening, and a Criminal Record. The punishment increases with subsequent offenses. Open intoxication and urinating in public charges can even carrying jail time.
For information about specific charges see the links below:
- Assault and Battery
- Disturbing the Peace
- Domestic Violence
- Drunk Driving / DUI / OWI / OWVI
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
- Malicious Destruction of Property
- Marijuana Use/Possession
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP)
- Obstruction of Police/False Information to a Police Officer
- Open Container / Open Intox
- Operating within the Presence of Drugs
- Possession of Firearm While Intoxicated
- Superdrunk/High BAC
- UIP/Indecent Exposure
Students facing any of these offenses will face obvious inconveniences when handling matters such as this but it can be even more difficult for individuals that received tickets when visiting from out of town. If you have received a ticket while tailgating or spending game day in East Lansing, contact the attorneys at Garmo & Kiste, PLC for help. We have extensive experience defending individuals facing these types of tickets. For more information about East Lansing Michigan’s Open Container Law or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
Charged with Tailgating Crimes Michigan?
Fall is here, football season is in full swing, and the tradition of tailgating has resumed. With both the NFL and NCAA playing there are plenty of opportunities for fans across Michigan to get together to enjoy the sport. On weekends, thousands of fans flock to downtown Detroit to watch the Lions or to Ann Arbor to see the Wolverines. While most of the football traditions are all in good fun, some fans may find themselves facing law enforcement on game day. Charges for Operating While Intoxicated, Urinating in Public, Minor In Possession, Disorderly Person and Transportation of Open Intoxicants are very common during football season in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Even though these charges are common, they are criminal offenses and should be taken seriously as they could have a negative impact on individuals’ careers or education because potential employers and universities frequently require the disclosure of criminal convictions.
If you have received criminal charges relating to your weekend activities, contact the attorneys at Garmo & Kiste, PLC. We work frequently in Wayne, Oakland, and Washtenaw County and can aggressively represent you in your matter. We are seasoned criminal defense attorneys and will strengthen your case with years of experience. If you would like to retain an attorney at Garmo & Kiste, PLC or receive more information, please call Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. The attorneys of Garmo & Kiste, PLC will help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.