Category Archives:Legal Services

Ann Arbor, Bay County and Highland Park Courts Online

Ann Arbor, Bay County and Highland Park Courts now Online Ann Arbor District Court, Bay County District Court, and Highland Park District Court Debut Online Traffic Court

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

Michigan Expungement Law Changes

michigan expungement law changesWondering 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.

If you have questions about expungment, or your eligibility, or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

Michigan IRS Tax Debt Attorney

Michigan IRS Tax Debt Attorney Two things guaranteed in life- Death and Taxes

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.

 

Obesity and Social Security Disability

obesity and social security disabilityObesity and Social Security Disability:

In 1999 the Social Security Administration eliminated the listing for obesity. As a result, proving obesity does not end the determination of whether a person is disabled or not. To be considered obese a person must have a BMI of 30.0 or above. Currently, obesity is considered by SSA to be a “specific medically determinable impairment.” Many conditions if they do not quite meet the listings for an outright finding of disability provide a way by which if a person meets most of the listing, and has an additional specific medically determinable impairment, the person can still be found to be disabled. In this way, it is important to give your attorney a full picture of your health. Even if your case is weak in some areas, additional specific medical impairments may boost your likelihood of success.

To retain Garmo &Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

 

 

Michigan Drinking and Driving BAC limit stays at .08

Drinking and Driving BAC limit at .08Michigan Drinking and Driving BAC limit stays at .08:

In 2003 there were 340 deaths related to drinking and driving. The legislature acted to lower the BAC threshold for drinking and driving from .10 to .08. By 2011, drinking and driving related deaths had dropped to 253. The law lowering the limit was originally temporary. It would have reverted back to .10 on October 1st. The Senate unanimously voted to retain the .08 threshold.  This was not entirely unexpected based on the relatively recent passage of the “Superdrunk” law. It seems the Michigan legislature aims to take a hard line with respect to drinking and driving offenses across the board. If you or someone you know is charged with a drinking and driving offense, it could have serious repercussions with respect to driving privileges and your criminal record. An experienced attorney can minimize this effect.

To retain Garmo &Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

See also, http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013304240087

Organized Retail Crime Act: New Law Allows Prosecutors to Charge Even Minor Theft as a Felony

retail fraudOrganized Retail Crime Act:

Effective March 31, 2013 prosecutors can charge you for felony retail fraud under the new “Organized Retail Crime Act.” Previously, a retail fraud, commonly known as shoplifting, must have involved merchandise valued at over $1000.00 to qualify as a felony. The new act is somewhat of a misnomer as it does not require you to act in conjunction with another person. Even if you act alone and steal something small like chap stick or a DVD can get you charged with a felony. The following activities constitute the new offense of “Organized retail crime:”

(a) Knowingly commits an organized retail crime.

(b) Organizes, supervises, finances, or otherwise manages or assists another person in committing an organized retail crime.

(c) Removes, destroys, deactivates, or knowingly evades any component of an antishoplifting or inventory control device to prevent the activation of that device or to facilitate another person in committing an organized retail crime.

(d) Conspires with another person to commit an organized retail crime.

(e) Receives, purchases, or possesses retail merchandise for sale or resale knowing or believing the retail merchandise to be stolen from a retail merchant.

(f) Uses any artifice, instrument, container, device, or other article to facilitate the commission of an organized retail crime act.

(g) Knowingly causes a fire exit alarm to sound or otherwise activate, or deactivates or prevents a fire exit alarm from sounding, in the commission of an organized retail crime or to facilitate the commission of an organized retail crime by another person.

(h) Knowingly purchases a wireless telecommunication device using fraudulent credit, knowingly procures a wireless telecommunications service agreement with the intent to defraud another person or to breach that agreement, or uses another person to obtain a wireless telecommunications service agreement with the intent to defraud another person or to breach that agreement.

If you or someone you know is charged with a retail fraud or organized retail crime, it is necessary to act fast with an experienced advocate to limit the effect of these charges. To retain Garmo &Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/publicact/pdf/2012-PA-0455.pdf

Can you get a dui for driving a lawn mower? Bloomfield Township Man’s Arrested for Drinking and Driving a Lawnmower

Can you get a dui for driving a lawn mower?Can you get a dui for driving a lawn mower?

Late last month, a 47 year old man who had been drinking decided he had some pressing errands that couldn’t wait for him to sober up. Whether a lawnmower is Mr. Walton’s vehicle of choice, or he was trying to avoid drinking and driving is unknown, but he fired up his lawnmower to head to the store. Police spotted the lawn mower parked at a local store, observed him exiting and begin to drive it. Upon determining Mr. Walton was intoxicated the police pulled him over and he was promptly arrested for felony drinking and driving. As the original article notes “Michigan law doesn’t care whether it’s a lawn mower or a Lamborghini, if you drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated” you are subject to arrest for drinking and driving. Pursuant to Michigan law, any vehicle with a motor is covered. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drinking and driving offense of ANY kind contact 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.

 

HGN (Horizontal Nystagmus Gaze) Testing

HGN (Horizontal Nystagmus Gaze) TestingHGN (Horizontal Nystagmus Gaze) Testing

If you have ever been pulled over and suspected of drinking and driving, you might know there are a series of tests officers administer prior to the BAC known as field sobriety testing. This can include walking heel to toe, saying the alphabet backwards, and or following an object with your eyes and not your head tests (HGN). While in the past I had thought this was only to see if you were able to directions, it turns out there is a biological reason behind the last test. If you have not been drinking (absent some major neurological disorders), your eyeball will pan across a landscape following object at a consistent pace. If you have been drinking though, it will jump from frame to frame across your field of vision. Think of it like the difference between a continuously variable transmission and stick gear shifting. As such, it is impossible to mask this biological reaction. On the other hand, the interpretation of this result is entirely up to the officer so there is very little way to independently confirm the officer’s findings. If you have gotten this far in the process though, there is probably other evidence that is sufficient to uphold your DUI absent extenuating circumstances. Very, very few DUI/OWI/OWVI/DWI offenses get overturned entirely. At this point, it is best for you to focus on minimizing the consequences through strong representation. An experienced attorney knows the ins and outs of metro Detroit courts, various judge’s proclivities, and can work to negotiate a lenient plea agreement and sentence for you.

To retain Garmo &Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

Missed the Wayne County Child Support Amnesty Program? No problem, Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

Missed Wayne County Child Support Amnesty

Wayne County extended a program through the end of May whereby individuals who have a bench warrant out against them for nonsupport. The purpose of the program is that Wayne County had limited resources to pursue these individuals, and by paying 1% of the amount due, of $250 whichever is greater, there could be a fast influx of cash while releasing bench warrants. There is over 800 million dollars outstanding in child support in Wayne County. Approximately 15 people per day in May took advantage of the program. What should you do though if you have missed this program? Don’t despair, you will need to be arraigned on the bench warrant. An experienced attorney though can work to minimize the damages. While child support amounts may not be modified retroactively, if a material change in circumstances has resulted the arrearages, we may be able to get the amount of child support you pay adjusted.

Wanted for not paying child support? Missed the Wayne County Child Support Amnesty Program? We can help you, to retain Garmo &Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100  for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.

Student Loan Debt Stunting the Economy? Student Loan Debt Settlement

Student Loan Debt Settlement

Does this situation sound familiar? Your mid-twenties son or daughter currently lives in your basement. Or this one? You are in your mid-twenties and have had to approach your parents to move back home? This situation is becoming more and more common, and recent census data shows that there are 6 million young adults in this situation (meaning there are also 6 million parents wondering when their kids might finally leave the nest as well). It might seem like kids these days are just lazy, but in reality this is an example of national policy having a trickle-down effect. The vast amount of student loan debt seems to be impacting modern family structure. It is also preventing young people from making big ticket purchases such as a home or a new car. Americans between age 25 and 34 made up on 27% of home buyers in 2011, which is the smallest percentage in the last decade per the National Association of Realtors. Further, if you think about it, that is prime age for people to be buying a  house so it should conceivably be the highest group.

For aggressive Debt Restructuring ideas and legal representation concerning all Debt Collection matters or to retain Garmo &Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100  for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. Including Student Loan Debt Settlement