Criminal Defense Resources & FAQ

Resources:

The following links and websites provide helpful criminal defense resources and information.

Frequently Asked Questions:


What is the cost?

At Chasnick and Terrasi we will handle Michigan criminal cases exclusively on a flat fee basis. The amount of this fee varies depending on the complexity of your case. Whatever the fee, we never charge separately for phone calls, copies or postage. We prefer to spend our time figuring out how to defend your case rather than computing billable hours.

What does it cost for the initial meeting?

Nothing. Unlike many other criminal defense firms we will not charge you for the initial meeting. We will give you as much time as you need to explain your case. Furthermore, when the meeting is over you will never be rushed or pressured into signing a retainer.

I am concerned that I cannot afford a Criminal Defense attorney. Isn't a court appointed attorney free?

No. If you have a court appointed attorney you will get a bill from the State for reimbursement of your attorney fees. Even if you have a trial and win you will still get a bill from the State.

I am going to Plea Guilty, why pay an attorney? Shouldn't I just have a court appointed attorney handle my plea?

Criminal defense attorneys who have a reputation of successfully trying cases are typically able to negotiate better deals than attorneys who have a reputation of never trying cases. If the prosecutor knows that an attorney is willing to pursue a case all the way to trial, then they may be more likely to offer a deal to avoid a trial. Similarly, if the prosecutor knows that the attorney is fearful of a trial, then there is no reason for the prosecutor to make an offer.

What is the difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

Felony offenses are criminal acts that are punishable by life imprisonment or imprisonment in a state prison for a period of time longer than a year. Examples include arson, sex offenses, embezzlement and murder. Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felony offenses and usually do not involve serious bodily harm to another person. A misdemeanor is usually punishable by less than a year in prison. Examples include 1st driving while intoxicated, assault and domestic violence.

I am being investigated for a crime. What should I do?

It is important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you become the target of a criminal investigation. During this time, we can do pre-filing investigations and contact the investigating officer on your behalf. Too often we are contacted after the client has already given a statement to the police. If you are facing jail time or prison, it is crucial that you hire a competent criminal defense attorney immediately.

Do I have to talk to the police?

No. When you are being investigated or questioned as a suspect remember that the government may not have enough evidence to charge you. The government is hoping that you will give them the evidence they need voluntarily. By cooperating, you may end up creating or strengthening the government's case. You have the right to not incriminate yourself.

I was pulled over for speeding and the officer asked to search my vehicle. Can I refuse?

Yes. Many people do not realize that they can refuse a search. A traffic stop is normally just that. If the officer issues you a citation and has no basis to suspect that you are armed and dangerous or involved in criminal activity, the officer cannot search you or your car. If the officer does see something suspicious, then the law allows the officer to do a "pat-down" search of you and of the passenger compartment of your car. The police officer can also "frisk" (feel the outside of) any purses, bags, or other things in the car that could hold a weapon. If you allow the officer to search you or your car, however, then the search will normally be considered valid -- even if there were no solid reasons behind the officer's request.

I was pulled over for Drunk Driving in Michigan. What happens I refuse a blood-alcohol test?

Refusing a chemical test at the request of a police officer results in a 6 month license suspension for the first refusal and a 1 year suspension for the second refusal in 7 years. However, refusing to submit does not mean that the police can not get a sample. The police officer may obtain a search warrant for your blood from a judge based upon probable cause that the driver is intoxicated. If the search warrant is granted then the police may draw your blood with out your consent; generally this is done at a local hospital.

I was convicted of Drunk Driving in Michigan. Can the police take my car?

Yes. With the 1st drunk driving offense a judge may immobilize your vehicle. After a 2nd or subsequent offense a judge must immobilize your vehicle.

The office never gave me a Miranda warning. Can I get my case dismissed?

No. The police are only required to give you your Miranda warnings if you are under arrest and the officer wants to interrogate you. The only consequence of not informing you of your rights is that the prosecution cannot use any of your answers to questions asked by the police after the arrest. However, if you do receive your rights and still volunteer any statement to the police, that statement is admissible in court against you. It is always best to have an attorney with you during any police questioning.

How can I get my record expunged?

MCL 780.621 allows the expungement of a criminal record five years after the completion of prison time or imposition of a sentence. Serious crimes like murder, aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated, and sex offender crimes are never expunged. Less serious crimes may be expunged only if you have made real changes in your life. You must show that you are a different person now and it is very unlikely that you will commit another crime.

What is the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act?

State law allows a judge to place a youth between 17 and 20 who has pleaded guilty to be placed in prison or on probation without a conviction to avoid a criminal record. If the youth successfully completes the program, there is no criminal record.

What is "7411"?

Under 7411 certain offenders charged and convicted with possession of drugs can have their record discharged and dismissed.