Here is an excerpt from my book: The Ann Arbor Criminal Defense Playbook - A Comprehensive Guide to Washtenaw County
If you’re charged with an MIP in Washtenaw County, this is a misdemeanor offense, which if you plead guilty would give you a criminal record. It’s all too common to hear from someone in their late 20’s or early 30’s who needs my help to remove an MIP off of their record. They tell me that they’ve lost out of admission to schools, been rejected for jobs, and simply haven’t reached their potential, because they’ve walked around with a criminal record for the past 5-10 years. Do not let this happen to you!
The first step in defending yourself against an MIP charge is to call a timeout and speak to an attorney. Contacting a lawyer ten years later is too late to avoid the negative impact of a Minor in Possession offense. When I speak with potential clients, we discuss being proactive from day one, and changing the story of your case. If you’re charged with an MIP in Washtenaw County, the prosecutor, judge, police and your community are ready to label you a trouble maker, and give you a criminal record.
All of my clients begin proactive community service work in the local area in order to demonstrate that they are a positive influence in the community. It’s great that you have done community service in the past, but it’s more important to do it after being charged. It’s important to show that you’re not a troublemaker, but rather the opposite; that you help others, and you’re already making better choices in your life.
Along with community work, my clients attend a handful of AA meetings for an impact experience. I want all of my clients to hear what can happen if alcohol takes over your life; from drunk driving offenses to losing a job, custody of your children, getting divorced, and other negative outcomes. My clients who receive an MIP likely don’t have an alcohol problem, but I want them to learn and hear from others.
I want my clients to make conscious decisions early on that they are not going to allow alcohol to get them in trouble with the law again or ruin their life. If my client can show a judge and prosecutor that they are already thinking beyond the MIP, and understand the real dangers of alcohol, it usually leads to a much better outcome for my client.
I also have all of my clients undergo an alcohol education component, and occasionally submit to a screening and assessment by a licensed substance abuse counselor; depending upon the facts of the case, this could be an important element to our approach.
If my client follows my lead and my program, we have an excellent chance to have their case dismissed with little to no additional “punishment”. When I work with a client charged with an MIP in Washtenaw County, we aim to remove ourselves from the punishment column, and into the educational “I learned from this experience” column.
For MIP cases in Ann Arbor, the judge will either be Judge Easthope or Hines, but it may be assigned to the magistrate to begin with for an arraignment. When I work with a client, we waive the arraignment, and ask for a court date with one of the judges. The prosecutor is usually the City of Ann Arbor as the Ann Arbor Police Department make most of the MIP arrests in Ann Arbor, but if the University of Michigan Police Department or the Sheriff’s Office makes the arrest, the prosecutor will be the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office.
If my client has followed my lead with my proactive program, it’s quite possible to get the judge and the prosecutor to join us in entering the educational/lesson learned column, and avoid the punishment column, while supporting our goal of not having a criminal record from this incident.
My clients create the outcome they want, and get the judge and the prosecutor to agree. We take control of the case, because by being proactive, you’re showing that the case had the right impact on your life, and you earned the right to have your case dismissed. It’s rare to control the outcome of your case when it comes to criminal law, but a proactive approach gives the client that unique power.
Attorney Jonathan Paul is a former New York City and Michigan Prosecutor, and a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. Mr. Paul has been featured in Hour Magazine, and the New York Times for his selection in Super Lawyers Magazine. Based on past client reviews, Mr. Paul has also earned me a “Superb” 10.0 Avvo Rating.