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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Michigan

If you’ve been arrested and are facing charges, you need a passionate and skilled attorney in the courtroom backed by a powerhouse team. The repercussions of a criminal conviction, whether for a misdemeanor or felony, will forever alter your life. Our Michigan criminal defense attorneys can help you. A conviction on your record can have severe consequences and seriously limit you and your family’s future. Let our Michigan criminal defense lawyer team help you. Facing criminal charges? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.

What Does a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

A criminal defense attorney is a lawyer whose practice areas include defending people and organizations that have been charged with crimes. We work in a variety of settings, and in both state and federal courts.

Criminal defense attorneys can handle a wide variety of duties related to criminal cases from beginning to end. These include:

  • Interviewing witnesses to gather facts
  • Performing legal research and developing case theory
  • Gathering evidence in support of our client
  • Drafting, filing, and arguing motions before the court
  • Gathering expert witnesses to testify on behalf of the client
  • Negotiating with the prosecution for a plea bargain if necessary

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys in Michigan

Barton and His Team Have Practiced Criminal Law for Decades Across the Entire State of Michigan and in Federal Courts.

Criminal Charges That Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyers Handle

Defense law attorneys can handle whatever charges the prosecution may bring, but the following are among the most common.


Assault is placing a person in fear of being touched without their permission including any attempt to cause physical injury to someone else. Note that under Michigan law, this is distinct from battery, which is the actual touching that successfully and intentionally inflicts violence against someone else. A battery could also occur if an object is taken out of a person’s possession without their permission. For example, taking a phone out of someone’s hand without their permission is a battery.

A defense lawyer can help with this charge by making it difficult for the prosecution to prove every aspect of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. We can do this by claiming that you acted in self-defense or the defense of someone else. We may also argue that the threat of harm was not imminent or that you didn’t have the ability to carry out the perceived threat.

Driver’s License Restoration

If your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, a Michigan criminal defense lawyer may be able to help get it restored. The difficulty of driver’s license restoration varies based on the reason it was suspended or revoked in the first place. Repeat offenders or drivers who lost their license due to drug- or alcohol-related incidents have a very specific process that must be followed.

With a Michigan criminal defense lawyer by your side, you may have a better likelihood of getting your license restored. While you do not strictly need a lawyer for the restoration process, they can help you compile all the necessary evidence to demonstrate your commitment to safe driving, like a drug screen, support letters, and more. We can even examine your case for errors or new arguments.

Drug Crimes

Drug crimes consist of a wide range of offenses, from possessing controlled substances to distribution. The nature of the charges will vary based on the quantity and classification of the drug involved. Additionally, a manufacturing drug charge differs from simple possession or distribution.

A lawyer with experience defending clients charged with drug crimes can help with any drug-related charge you may face. While much of their work focuses on counteracting the prosecution’s attempt to demonstrate your guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the state of Michigan also offers jail alternatives if convicted. If a conviction is likely, your lawyer can still help by exploring the options available to nonviolent drug offenders, such as probation or rehabilitation. Drug crimes often involve police searches and seizures without a warrant. It is important to evaluate whether an accused’s constitutional rights were violated by law enforcement. If they were, the evidence can be suppressed and the case dismissed.

DUI Defense

A DUI offense, or OWI as it is known in Michigan, involves driving under the influence of a substance like drugs or alcohol. This kind of charge can come with serious consequences, including fines and the suspension of your license. Second or subsequent DUI offenses provide a much higher likelihood of a jail sentence.

A Michigan criminal defense lawyer can help you combat the charge. A common strategy is showing that the initial traffic stop or arrest was unconstitutional. If your lawyer can show that, everything the police discover after the fact may be dismissed automatically under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. All police officers in Michigan must have reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop, and simply suspecting drunk driving may not be good enough.


A man in handcuffs being interrogated

Expungement is the removal of past criminal offenses and convictions from your record. While this process does not require a lawyer, having one by your side throughout can help the process go smoothly and quickly.

A criminal defense lawyer will take advantage of the relatively new Clean Slate Michigan law regarding the expungement of criminal convictions. Additionally, an experienced lawyer can properly prepare the application for expungement and help you include all the necessary information and documentation.

Fraud Offenses

Fraud encompasses various crimes related to falsifying information and tricking others. These typically are nonviolent white-collar crimes like embezzlement and can come with significant penalties for those found guilty.

Criminal defense lawyers who represent fraud offenses can take several approaches in their defense. For example, We can argue that the accused was not involved and that it was a case of mistaken identity. We may also argue that it was a case of misunderstanding or that there was a specific lack of intent. A skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer can also help with common defenses like entrapment and committing fraud under duress.

Gun Crimes

Gun crimes typically cover the illegal possession or carrying of a firearm. Michigan’s gun rights laws have prohibitions, and anyone who does not comply with the licensing requirements could violate those limits. Violations can include carrying a concealed weapon without a concealed pistol license (CPL), possession while committing a felony, possession while being a felon, possession while being convicted of domestic violence, and carrying a firearm in prohibited spaces like courthouses and school zones.

A criminal defense lawyer works to protect people accused of gun crimes by showing that they did not violate any of Michigan’s gun laws. They may do this by arguing a person was not prohibited to carry unlawfully, or they may question whether the gun was even real. Another possible defense for having and using a gun despite improper licensure is the violation of a person’s constitutional search and seizure rights by law enforcement.

Licensed Professionals

Many professionals require licenses to operate in their profession, and some criminal charges can affect the validity of those licenses. In some cases, you may not even need to be convicted to lose your license, as simply being charged with a crime may leave you unable to continue working in your licensed position.
A criminal defense lawyer does more than just fight the charges against licensed professionals. Many licensed individuals, like teachers and nurses, have a set time frame in which they must report any conviction to their regulatory agency. A lawyer can help you report on time and determine whether reporting is required by arraignment or only after a conviction.

Property Crimes

Property crimes include trespassing, home invasion, destruction of property, and arson. Essentially, breaking, entering, or destroying someone else’s property without permission is likely a crime. Punishments for these crimes can be severe, so it is crucial to start building your defense as soon as possible.

A Michigan criminal defense lawyer typically enacts defenses in property crime cases by evaluating specific laws around the kind of property in question. A skilled lawyer can also help counteract overeager prosecutors and fight for lesser sentences for offenders with no prior record who deeply regret their actions.

Theft Offenses

Theft involves any instance in which property is stolen from another person or entity. With severe punishments for theft regardless of the monetary value taken (though larger values are often more harshly sentenced), it is critical to establish a defense as soon as possible.

Criminal defense lawyers tend to approach theft offense cases by adopting a defense regarding specific intent. Forgetting to scan an item at the self-checkout, for example, is hardly a planned heist. Other defenses can include accounting errors and momentary lapses in judgment. The best criminal defense for your circumstances will vary based on the details of your case.

Facing Charges? Unhappy With Your Current Attorney? Request a Free Consultation Now.

What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the amount of potential prison time. While a felony conviction may result in prison time, this is not always the case. Meanwhile, a misdemeanor conviction subjects an offender to less time in jail. Michigan law prohibits punishing a misdemeanor with more than a year of incarceration, though it is still possible to get some jail time. The amount of jail time depends on the nature of the misdemeanor, as it can range from a few days to a few months.

While misdemeanor charges may not warrant prison time, repeat offenses can change that. For example, a DUI charge is a misdemeanor the first and second time. If you get a third DUI charge in a lifetime, however, it is considered a felony, and you could face prison.

What Does It Mean to Be Arrested in Michigan?

Strictly speaking, an arrest is when a person is taken into custody by a police officer and is not free to leave. Even before being taken to the police station, a person can be arrested during initial questioning. A good indication that you are under arrest is if a police officer reads you your Miranda rights (though they may not always do this).

When you are arrested, the police will search you for contraband and process you in the police system. Then, you will be provided a phone call to contact your family, your lawyer, or a bail bondsman. If you cannot afford an attorney or do not have one of your own, one will be provided for you. Assume that any call you make after being arrested will be recorded unless it is to your lawyer.

What Are My Legal Rights in Michigan?

You have numerous legal rights in Michigan if you are arrested or even questioned by police. You are protected against false imprisonment and police brutality and are entitled to legal representation regardless of your socioeconomic status. If you have yet to be arrested, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you from illegal search and seizure, meaning police cannot search you or your property without your consent. The Fifth Amendment entitles you to remain silent, as you cannot be forced to answer police questions.

Some additional protections under the law include the right to due process and the right to have any illegally obtained evidence against you dismissed. You have the right to confront your accuser and have a speedy and public criminal trial with an impartial jury in criminal court. Remember that just because these are your legal rights does not mean police will protect them or will not try to trick you into waiving them.

What to Do If You Have Been Falsely Accused of a Crime in Michigan

If you have been falsely accused of a crime, you need to contact a Michigan criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Know your rights, and do not consent to any of those rights being violated by law enforcement. Remember, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to demonstrate that you are guilty rather than on you to prove your innocence.

What To Do:

  • Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
  • Say nothing without your attorney’s legal advice.
  • Comply with police orders, though not necessarily
  • their questioning.

What Not To Do:

  • Do not say that you are sorry.
  • Do not cooperate with questioning.
  • Do not waive your rights.

I’m Being Investigated by the Police. Do I Need a Lawyer?

Yes, you should hire a lawyer if you are being investigated by law enforcement. Get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible to help monitor that the entire process is conducted in a way that keeps your rights protected. The police and other investigators often use tactics that violate your rights to get information, but they never face the consequences unless you know your rights in the first place. Additionally, a lawyer involved early in the investigation will have more time to gather the necessary information to protect you at trial if necessary.

I’m Innocent! Should I Work With the Police to Clear My Name?

No, never work with the police without the assistance of a lawyer. Even if you are under arrest and have to submit to searches, you can never be forced to answer any questions they ask. It is illegal for them to punish you for refusing to answer a question. Additionally, it is important to remember that the legal system is often more concerned with closing cases than seeing justice done. Anything you say, even if you are genuinely innocent of the crime you are accused of, can be used against you. In most cases, a judge is the only person who can order you to answer questions or comply with any kind of investigation or examination.

The only person you should work with to clear your name is your criminal law attorney, as they are the only ones who are professionally invested in helping you. Police, prosecutors, and other agents of the criminal justice system are typically rewarded based on convictions. Clearing your name is not their priority.

Potential Consequences of Criminal Convictions

Being convicted of a crime can have severe consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your life. The potential for fines, jail time, and even prison sentences is obvious enough, but that is only the beginning. Even after serving time in particularly harsh sentences, you will face new obstacles in aspects of life like employment and loans. Finding a rental can also be challenging if landlords conduct a background check on you. Some states prohibit convicted felons from voting, serving on a jury, or holding public office. Travel permissions may be reduced, and you could lose custody of children if you get a criminal record. Lastly, both Michigan and federal law prohibit a felon from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

What Crimes Have No Statute of Limitations in Michigan?

In general, the statute of limitations for crimes in Michigan is six years from the day the crime was committed. This includes criminal offenses like arson, burglary, and assault. Some other crimes have a 10-year statute of limitations, including the following:

  • Extortion
  • Assault with intent to murder
  • Attempted murder
  • First-degree home invasion
  • Manslaughter
  • Child abuse

More serious crimes in Michigan have no statute of limitations, so you could be charged and convicted for them no matter how far in the past the crime was committed. Crimes without a statute of limitations include the following:

  • Murder
  • Terrorism
  • Solicitation to commit murder

How to Choose a Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

Your attorney should be skilled in many areas of criminal defense. Even more than having a comprehensive understanding of the law, you want your attorney to be respected in the legal community among prosecutors and judges. You also can’t afford to wait. Many law firms and attorneys lack the team necessary to get to your case quickly, explore all issues, and work together to find the best strategy and communicate with you regularly. When choosing a lawyer to represent you, look for someone responsive, empathetic, and well-respected amongst their peers, with positive client reviews demonstrating their past successes.

Lawyer writing down notes on a piece of paper

Why Choose The Law Offices of Barton Morris?

The Law Offices of Barton Morris features several attorneys, paralegals, administrative assistants, and other support staff, including a legal courier, giving you the attention you deserve while fighting for your desired outcome. Our attorneys are experienced Michigan criminal defense attorneys who will go to work for you and aggressively fight for the results you need. Our criminal defense attorneys have significant experience and skill as trial lawyers. Our lawyers are well-respected in our courts due to our success and confidence in handling both Michigan and federal criminal cases.

At The Law Offices of Barton Morris, you will be able to work with the only American Chemical Society Forensic Lawyer-Scientist in the state of Michigan. With this qualification, Barton Morris can fully understand the value of any relevant evidence utilizing his forensic knowledge and training. Couple that with the commitment to showcasing the larger backstory than what is being told by the prosecution, and you can expect a comprehensive defense.

Our Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys Care

Whether it’s a traffic ticket or murder charges, your case is extremely important. No one understands that more than our lawyers, and we want to help you. None of our clients will ever feel like their case isn’t being taken seriously.

Our Experience, Professionalism, and Compassion

When you retain the services of The Law Offices of Barton Morris, you get more than just a lawyer to stand beside you in front of a judge. You get an entire team of dedicated lawyers, paralegals, and support staff fighting relentlessly on your behalf. In addition to his years of experience, Barton Morris has also been featured in the Super Lawyers list several times for his professional achievements and commitment to his clients.

Our Criminal Defense Philosophy

There are many attorneys out there who take the first deal offered to their clients. Our criminal defense attorneys know that the best results come when a case is effectively handled and litigated. We are committed to thorough preparation because we believe that preparation is key to effective litigation. As our client, you’ll be fully prepared for what will happen at each stage of your case. We’ll do everything we can to alleviate the stress that a legal issue can cause to you and your family by answering your questions and keeping you informed of all appointments and court hearings.

We Fight to Protect Your Rights

The Law Offices of Barton Morris will fight to protect your rights when you are charged with a crime. Too often, police and prosecutors are more interested in meeting arrest quotas than finding actual justice. That is where our law firm steps in to work toward justice and see that your rights are protected throughout the entire process with our years of experience.

If you require the services of a criminal defense attorney in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County and beyond, including in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Bloomfield, Flint, Grand Rapids, Southfield, Port Huron, or Troy, contact our Michigan criminal defense attorneys today by completing our online contact form or calling us at 248-541-2600 to start with a free consultation at our law practice.

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