Criminal Law

Muskegon Attorneys Assisting People Facing Prosecution

Being arrested or facing a criminal charge can be a daunting experience. A single conviction can dramatically affect your future, limiting educational opportunities and job prospects. This makes it especially important to obtain knowledgeable legal representation when you find yourself in this difficult situation. The experienced Muskegon criminal defense lawyers at McCroskey Law can fight vigorously for your rights at each stage of the process. We also maintain offices in Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, from which we can represent defendants in other areas of Michigan. If you need a drunk driving attorney or guidance with any other type of criminal charge, we are here to offer the compassionate and dedicated assistance that you deserve.

Fighting Charges in Michigan

Generally, crimes are charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Felonies are charged when a crime is considered relatively serious. If a conviction is obtained, the court will consider sentencing guidelines when imposing a penalty. In 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that guidelines that were previously considered mandatory should be considered advisory. As a result, a sentencing court can now use its discretion to depart from the range specified in the guidelines, although it is still required to take the guidelines range into account when imposing a sentence.

The sentencing guidelines place various offenses in six different groups. These are crimes against a person, crimes against property, crimes involving a controlled substance, crimes against public order, crimes against public safety, and crimes against public trust. Within each of these groups, the offenses are further sorted into a "class" based on the seriousness of the offense. Generally, the class determines the sentence, with Class A offenses being punished with life imprisonment or any term of years, and Class H offenses being punished with jail or another intermediate sanction.

If your case goes to trial, the prosecution must prove all of the elements of a particular criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high burden of proof, and one way that your defense attorney may attack the charges is to raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors as to one or more elements of the offense. In some cases, a useful defense may be to try to suppress the evidence by attacking the procedures used to obtain it. The police must respect your constitutional rights when they stop you, arrest you, search you or your property, or interrogate you. They must also follow certain protocols. Failing to abide by the rules governing your rights and police procedures can result in evidence being thrown out. In some situations, this will prevent the prosecution from being able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Drunk driving charges (known as Operating While Intoxicated) are common. There are varying penalties for a first drunk driving offense. The penalties are less serious when a defendant has a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .08% and .17%. If you are charged with a first offense in this category, you may face up to 180 days of a license suspension and six points on your driver's license. The penalties are more severe when the driver has a BAC of .17% or higher, or when the offense is not a first offense. The penalties are also higher when a minor is in the vehicle at the time of the offense, or there are bodily injuries as a result of the drunk driving.

Different criminal charges apply to boating under the influence (BUI). In Michigan, a person who is caught operating a boat, jet ski, or watercraft while intoxicated or impaired can be charged with a crime. Where the case is prosecuted depends on the location of the violation in relation to the shoreline. Boating while intoxicated is a charge that depends on your BAC being above the legal limit. In 2015, the threshold for being intoxicated while boating dropped from .10 to .08. However, even if you do not surpass the legal limit for BAC, the prosecution can also bring a boating while visibly impaired charge, which requires proof that your ability to handle or steer the craft was visibly impaired because you drank alcohol. If boating while intoxicated or boating while visibly impaired results in a serious injury, you will be charged with a felony, and you could face imprisonment and hefty fines.

Consult a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Muskegon or Beyond

At McCroskey Law, our Muskegon criminal defense attorneys can carefully evaluate the facts and circumstances of the charges against you and determine whether there has been a violation of your constitutional rights, as well as whether other defenses may be available. We also help our clients understand the potential penalties, and the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, and counsel them on a course of action that is suited to their needs and goals. If you need a boating while intoxicated attorney, representation in an OUI case, or assistance with any other criminal matter, you can trust us to handle your case diligently and aggressively. McCroskey Law maintains offices in Muskegon, Battle Creek, and Grand Rapids, and we also can represent defendants in Kalamazoo, Niles, Jackson, Ludington, and Holland, among other communities. Contact us at 800-442-0237 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.