Written by attorney Jonathan Andrew Paul

Open Container Ann Arbor 15th District Court - Judge Valvo Hines Burke

“This is ___________, I received a ticket for open container in Ann Arbor. I was tailgating/walking around with friends/going from one house to another, and the police stopped me, and told me I can’t walk around with a beer”. The client then sometimes tells me they are from out of town, and they need to be in court in 10-14 days, and they don’t know what to do.

The first thing I tell this client is that this ticket is a misdemeanor crime, and they need to call a timeout. Some potential clients are looking to get it over with as soon as possible; I tell these clients that if they plead guilty they will have a criminal record. Many people are shocked as this offense doesn’t seem like a big deal or back home this isn’t against the law. It’s a huge wake-up call, and usually puts the client into panic mode.

I handle these cases in the same manner as I do other cases; we’re proactive from day one. Although the case seems minor, we still need to treat is as major in the short term to avoid a long-term criminal record. I usually want to know everything I can about my client’s career, and I request they send me a resume. I discuss issues they could have with a criminal record with their career, and we make a plan to have the misdemeanor dismissed. My clients cannot afford any other outcome for their job.

If my client follows my lead with my proactive program, I can typically workout a dismissal with the judge and prosecutor, and keep a clean criminal record for my client. When we work together, you will no longer need to report to the courthouse within the 10-14 days listed on your ticket, because my attorney paperwork with satisfy this condition, and you will avoid a bench warrant. I will be able to take over all communication with the prosecutor and the judge, and we will formulate a comprehensive plan, set goals, and reach those goals together.

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