Archive for March, 2010

Arenas sentenced

Well, Judge Morin from the DC Superior Court imposed his much awaited sentence on superstar Gilbert Arenas today.  As mentioned in the earlier post, Arenas faced charges on one count of a felony gun possession of an unregistered firearm in DC.  Prosecutors had asked for a three months jail sentence for Arenas, whose sentencing guidelines were 6 to 24 months in jail due to his two prior misdemeanors on his record. 

Ultimately, Arenas was sentenced to two years probation, which includes 30 days in halfway house and 400 hours of community service. He is also required to register as a gun offender and donate $5,000 to fund for victims of violent crimes. Arenas appeared to be remorseful and told Judge Morin that “every day [I] wish this never happened.”  Arenas’ attorneys sought to avoid any jail time by seeking  probation and community service, arguing the incident was a misguided prank with no intention to harm anyone. Further arguments on Arenas’ behalf were  that the guns were unloaded, that Arenas’ lighthearted comments about the incident were misinterpreted, and that he’s a good role model who excelled at community service throughout his good fortunes in the NBA.

Finally, for those out there who choose to take advantage or are forced to go down a plea deal route, it is very important to note what Judge Morin pointed out during his sentencing.  He said that an important factor was that he truly believed Arenas was remorseful.  Acceptance of responsibility is a huge factor taken into account by virtually all judges in every jurisdiction.  Accordingly, prior to every sentencing hearing, a good criminal defense attorney will prepare their clients, and make sure that they understand all the factors that will be addressed and taken into account by the judge.

Attorney Raymond Cassar is a Detroit Area Criminal Defense attorney who has twenty years of experience in State & Federal Court. His office is happy to give advice regarding all criminal matters. You may learn more about Attorney Raymond Cassar and his team of attorneys by visiting his website at:  http://www.crimlawattorney.com .

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Gilbert Arenas sentencing

Gilbert Arenas is a three-time All – Star point guard in the NBA for the Washington Wizards.  However, today in DC Superior Court he will find out his sentence that will be imposed on him by Judge Robert E. Morin.  The question is whether Arenas will be sentenced to do jail time or get probation and community service for his one felony count of violating the District of Columbia’s strict gun laws.

The basic facts of this case are simple and unfortunately very foolish. Arenas and Crittenton were playing cards and got into a heated verbal joust while flying back from on the team plane on December 19, 2009.  Two days later, Arenas brought his guns to the locker room and in his words “played the prank” on Crittenton by placing the guns on the latter’s chair with the sign, “Pick 1.” Additionally, Crittenton then retrieved his own gun and ensured that Arenas knew he had a “piece” of his own. (Crittenton pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor gun charge and received a year of unsupervised probation.) Subsequent, Arenas entered a guilty plea on January 15th. 

 The maximum term for Arenas’ crime is five years. The sentencing guidelines for someone with his record call for 6-24 months, although those guidelines also allow for probation. The reason his guidelines start at 6 months is that Arenas has had two prior misdemeanor convictions for gun related crimes.  The sentencing guidelines take into account both prior record variables as well as offense variables to increase one’s guideline.  The top of one’s sentencing guideline may not exceed the top of the statutory penalty. Perhaps most important, Arenas’ sentence could determine whether the Wizards will attempt to void the remainder of his six-year, $111 million contract. 

Prosecutors demand a sentence of three months in jail.  Part of their argument is that Arenas’ showed a carefree type attitude throughout the proceedings, that he knew that bringing the guns to the locker room was illegal, that he has a prior gun charge and that he “joked about the incident to large groups, and stated that he did nothing wrong and felt no remorse,” according to assistant United States attorney Christopher Kavanaugh.

The defense has made good arguments to counter on behalf of Arenas, and attempt to persuade the Judge to grant Arenas probation and community service in lieu of a jail sentence. The crust of the defense argument is that Arenas played a much misguided prank but he had absolutely no intent to harm anyone.  Additionally, the guns were unloaded, the media misinterpreted Arenas’s light hearted comments regarding the case, and that he has been a positive role model for the community with much community service and charitable donations through NBA Cares and other charitable organization.  Finally, the defense argues that Arenas was confused about the DC’s complicated gun laws and that through his suspension the rest of the 2009-10 season he was already punished with the tens of millions lost in earnings and endorsements. 

The arguments put forth by both sides are fairly persuasive on their face.  The defense team is making the type of arguments that defendants should expect their clients to put forth in all types of cases.  Lack of prior history, positive impact on the community prior and subsequent to the offense, remorse for one’s actions after entering a plea deal are all factors that a well-trained criminal defense attorney should use to craft a persuasive argument on their client’s behalf at the sentencing hearing.   

Attorney Raymond Cassar is a Detroit Area Criminal Defense attorney who has twenty years of experience in State & Federal Court. His office is happy to give advice regarding criminal matters. You may learn more about Attorney Raymond Cassar and his team of attorneys by visiting his website at:  http://www.crimlawattorney.com .

How To Restore Your Driver’s License – Michigan Law

By Attorney Daryl Wood 

In Michigan, keeping your job is hard enough without having the additional handicap of your driver’s license being suspended or revoked.  Having to depend on friends, family, co-workers or public transportation to get to work is not a recipe for promotion.

A driver’s license may be revoked for many reasons under Michigan law:
    –   repeat drunk driving or substance abuse convictions
    –   refusal of a breathalyzer test (automatic suspension)
    –   points related to suspensions or revocations (12 points within 2 years)

If your license has been revoked you must apply for the return of your license and you must jump through several “hoops” to have a chance for its restoration.

The majority of license restoration cases in Michigan involve an application and hearing through the Michigan Secretary of State, not through the courts. This means you are subject to all of Lansing’s “red tape” and complex regulations.

Unfortunately, many people whose licenses are revoked are not prepared to request a hearing when they become eligible to get it back, and they are therefore unsuccessful in restoring their license.  Speaking  with an experienced driver’s license attorney well before the  eligibility date will ensure that you are doing everything necessary to assure the best chances of success at restoring your license.

Ideally, you want an attorney who will review all of your paperwork before submitting it to the Secretary of State, and who will conduct a practice interview to prepare you for your hearing to ensure you are properly prepared.

If you attempt the hearing on your own, there is a much greater likelihood of denial.  If you are denied after your initial hearing, your appeal must usually be handled through the County Circuit Court for your county of residence.

When attempting an appeal on your own, you should know that any mistakes you make in the process will haunt you in every future hearing until you get your license fully restored.  Most times, the mistakes made will cost you an additional year of eligibility before you can request a new hearing.

Only an experienced Michigan license restoration attorney can evaluate your situation and advise you as to the proper steps and restoration procedures that apply to your specific case.

When choosing an attorney to help you restore your driver’s license, you need someone who knows the process, knows the hearing officers, and understands your likelihood of success, before you walk into the hearing

You will find highly experienced Michigan license restoration attorneys at the Law Offices of Raymond A. Cassar, P.L.C.  We have helped literally hundreds of Michigan residents get their licenses restored. We can help you. Visit www.drunkdrivingmichiganlawyer.com or www.crimlawattorney.com or call (248) 855-0911 or (313) 278-8811.

Roethlisberger follow up….

Well, despite “Big Ben’s” (Roethlisberger’s nickname in NFL circles) getting lawyered up with a famous Atlanta attorney, Ed Garland who is known for representing Ray Lewis in the shooting in 2000 and the rapper TI, mistakes were already made prior.  Reports have come out that confirmed that Roethlisberger volunteered information to the police on the night of the alleged incident on March 5th.

The thought process for Roethlisberger must have been that he was being accused of something he did not do, forcible rape, and therefore he told police the truth as he saw it: no sexual intercourse happened.  HOWEVER, what Big Ben failed to understand is something that most people fail to understand: sexual assault does NOT always mean forcible rape.  In lay people’s terms, sexual assault seems to always be tought of as rape.  The harsh reality is that sexual assault allegations are MUCH MUCH broader than forcible sexual penetration.  “Simple” touching or contact can very well enable prosecutor’s offices to charge sexual assault, and few people out there may realize that.

In MI, Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 2nd degree is simply satisfied with a touching for sexual gratification.  Those are very broad terms, and one, whether a lawyer or not, can easily picture situations where the argument can be made the sexual contact/touching/brushing was done for “sexual gratification.”  Unfortunately, few people realize that concept, and it appears that Ben Roethlisberger may have made that mistake.  Depending on what statements he made to the police, he may have well incriminated himself despite proclaiming his innocence from forcible sexual intercourse.

Attorney Raymond Cassar is a Detroit Area Criminal Defense attorney who has twenty years of experience in State & Federal Court. His office is happy to give advice regarding criminal matters. You may learn more about Attorney Raymond Cassar and his team of attorneys by visiting his website at:  http://www.crimlawattorney.com .

Why Former Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers is Going to Prison

Former Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers received a 37 month federal prison sentence for her role in the Detroit City Council Corruption case.  She is scheduled to self surrender to the designated Federal facility sometime in July.  Many people are asking “how” and “why” she received such a tough sentence.  And everyone is wondering if she will actually serve that “hard time” in prison . . . or just “get off easy” like many other celebrities and public officials.

Here’s the real story of what happened, and why, from the perspective of an experienced Detroit area criminal defense attorney.

In the Federal Court System the Judges have Sentencing Guidelines that they look to, in order to impose an appropriate sentence.  But, every Federal attorney knows that these guidelines are no longer mandatory. The sentencing guidelines are now advisory. This means that the Judge actually could have imposed probation or home confinement for Monica.  Perhaps that is what her attorney was hoping for. Clearly, Monica appeared to be expecting nothing more severe than probation. 

But Monica’s biggest problem was that she was never taught to say “I Am Sorry for What I Did”.  Even as she was being sentenced by highly respected Federal Judge Avern Cohn, she continually displayed her defiant and contemptuous attitude toward our Justice System, the Federal Court and, unfortunately, toward the City of Detroit.  As a result, the wise Judge exercised his authority to “throw the book at her.”

Monica Conyers was certainly incredulous when Judge Avern Cohn actually sentenced her to a prison term.  That is why she kept telling everyone who cared to listen that she would “appeal” the sentence.  What the public needs to know is that she has little grounds for an appeal. This is because the Plea Agreement she signed (under “Rule 11”) precluded an appeal if the Judge sentenced her within a “Guideline” sentence.  It is clear that the Judge did just that.  In other words, since Judge Cohn did impose a sentence within the “guidelines” of the applicable law, Conyers has given up her right to appeal.

Will this stop her lawyers from trying to appeal? It probably won’t. But in all probability, it will prevent them from doing so successfully.

Monica’s attitude through this whole ordeal did not ring well with the Judge or the citizens of Detroit.  Perhaps some humility or contrition on her part may have moved the Judge to impose a lighter sentence – since it was within his discretion to sentence her to something short of prison.  But it was clear from her demeanor throughout the entire process that Monica has little if any real remorse, even though her attorney probably urged her to show at least some contrition. 

It is a well known fact that the American public has a short memory, and an uncanny ability to forgive public personalities who let us down – especially if they exercise a little humility and publicly apologize. There is tremendous power in saying I am sorry.  Even skeptics will agree that it is a lot easier to forgive those who humble themselves and say they are sorry.  It is something we all can relate to, since we all make mistakes.

But Monica Conyers obviously feels that saying she is sorry to the City of Detroit is a sign of weakness. And, as a result, she will now be vacationing in prison.

Monica, you just don’t get it!

Attorney Raymond Cassar is a Detroit Area Criminal Defense attorney who has twenty years of experience in State & Federal Court. His office is happy to give advice regarding criminal matters. You may learn more about Attorney Raymond Cassar by visiting his website at:  http://www.crimlawattorney.com .

CBS producer pleads guilty to a lesser offense in extortion case against Letterman

On March 9th, 2010, Robert “Joe” Halderman, a former CBS television producer, pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny, acknowledging he attempted to fraudulently obtain $2 million from the late-night host David Letterman. He threatened to destroy Letterman’s reputation by airing his workplace transgressions – using information authorities have said he acquired from a former girlfriend’s diary.

The plea deal by Halderman spares him a potential 15 years in prison had he been convicted at a trial. The 52-year-old is due instead to get a six-month jail sentence and 1,000 hours of community service. Under this plea agreement, Halderman must turnover to the prosecutors all copies of any diary entries, photos, screenplay notes or other materials he has concerning Letterman and must agree to a full proof confidentiality agreement to never disclose such private information.

As part of the plea deal, Halderman had to apologize to Letterman.  Furthermore, while reading from his prepared statement to the court, the judge had to ask him to slow down for the court to be able to properly understand his statement. Halderman was struggling financially after a messy divorce, and that played a large part in his ploy against Letterman to gain some financial credibility.

Attorney Raymond Cassar is a well known Detroit Area Criminal Defense attorney who has over twenty years of experience in State & Federal Court.  His office is happy to give advice regarding criminal matters. You may learn more about Attorney Raymond Cassar by visiting his website at:  http://www.crimlawattorney.com .

Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault allegations and the smart way to handle.

Recently, another shocking new development ensued in the life of the $102 million QB of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The proud franchise with its 7 Super Bowl wins and the tradition and pride that it has established throughout the Rooney family ownership is seeing its reputation affected through allegations faced by its Super Bowl MVP quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. This is the second such allegation against Roethlisberger in two years.  The first was not pursued by Lake Tahoe police, but it resulted in a civil suit against Roethlisberger. 

On March 7th, it is alleged that after a night of partying in a college bar in Georgia, Roethlisberger sexually assaulted a 20 year college woman.  This type of allegations are very serious, and generally speaking when something like this hits the press in relation to a professional public figure it usually alleges a crime of violence such as forcible intercourse or something just sort of that.  Of course, it is just as likely that nothing happened, and ulterior motives are inspiring the allegations.  However, once such allegations of sexual assault make it to the police, a serious and potentially life altering investigations begins, and the Roethlisberger matter is just that. Perhaps worse, due to the harsh “court of public opinion,” despite the Constitutional protections, Roethlisberger faces an uphill battle of clearing his name and defending his life and reputation.

At this point in time, Roethlisberger and his team of attorneys are handling such allegations the right way.  Whenever such allegations are put forth, the police will be investigating and they will focus their investigations in two aspects.  First, they will attempt to gather evidence of the complainant’s demeanor shortly after the alleged crime, whether there is any evidence, physical or verbal from other corroborating witnesses, that she/he was indeed sexually assaulted.  Second, the police always attempt to give the accused an “opportunity to explain himself/herself.”  This is nothing more than an attempt to obtain a confession.  Seldom if ever will an accused go to the police, make a statement without the consultation and presence of an attorney, and get himself/herself out of whatever allegations were thrown at him/her.  By hiring an attorney, the accused is assuring that the police attempted contact with him/her will always be screened by his/her attorney, and therefore the possibility of making incriminating statements is greatly diminished.

Roethlisberger is doing the right thing.  He has hired an attorney and is making no statements.  While the press is reporting that he is cooperating with the police, what is truly taking place is that the attorney is handling the investigation phase of this criminal matter.  The attorney is the one who is making contact with the police, he is attempting to extrapolate additional information regarding the allegations, and he is insulating his client from making potentially fatal statements to the police. 

When facing with such an accusation, the prudent and smart thing to do is to simply demand an attorney when the phone call from the police comes.  That phone call will always come, as it is the easiest way for the police and prosecution to obtain a conviction through a confession.  Hiring an attorney to handle such an investigation into a sexual assault is a well worth investment, as the penalties are very harsh, and convictions virtually always result in prison or jail time.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Raymond Cassar, PLC have over 45 years of experience of handling nothing but criminal defense.  Handling criminal investigations and providing insulation and comfort for our clients from the police investigations is what we do, and we are here to help you. For more information on how the attorneys at the Law Offices of Raymond Cassar, PLC can help you in such circumstances please visit www.crimlawattorney.com or feel free to contact us at 248-855-0911.