Art in Court Kayla RollandMany Michigan District Courts allow for diversion programs which basically give you a period of probation and if you do follow the requirements of the programs such as taking a class, not getting into further legal hot water and staying in school or keeping a job you will not have a criminal record and the matter will disappear as if it never happened.  This is not true in all Michigan Courts and for all criminal misdemeanor defendants.  For example, if you have a prior MIP or other alcohol related criminal offense it could result in denial of the diversion programs.

However, many courts in Michigan do offer a diversion program. This is especially the case for the major colleges in Michigan and the Flint area.  There are some colleges towns that make it difficult to get into a diversion program or simply won’t offer a first offender a chance at a clean record.  That is where you really need good, experience legal counsel.  Two such places are Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University and in Saginaw County with Saginaw Valley University.

The MIP Diversion Programs don’t usually start at the first hearing called an arraignment.  Many judges won’t counsel a student or person under 21 years of age as if they are your buddy to plead not guilty and see the prosecutor.  That is why having experienced an MIP attorney to guide you is critical even at the earliest stage of the case.  The arraignment is simply the time when a MIP offender is informed of the charges against them and then enter a  plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest (Which is basically Guilty without Admission).  The only plea at arraignment in most instances for an MIP defendant is Not Guilty if they want a shot at diversion and keeping a conviction off their record.

If you are given diversion this means probation with special conditions.  In a college town like Flint, East Lansing, Ann Arbor or Mt. Pleasant that could mean hundreds of new probationers each school year and big caseload.  So Judges are careful not to fill up the rolls with students that are not contrite and qualify for the program.  Often they leave it to the Prosecutors to figure out if one is worthy of such diversion program treatment during the plea bargaining process.

I have had experience where some District judges will let student or under 21-year-old simply plea guilty at arraignment and not offer the diversion program to students unless they either hire an attorney or negotiate this resolution with the prosecutor on their own.  That clearly is because they want to make double sure the student defendant qualifies for the local court diversion programs.  So hiring an experienced MIP lawyer is very important at this stage.

Occasionally a very kind and compassionate District Court Judge will let student plead guilty at the arraignment and sentence them to the MIP diversion Program where you would get lucky and not end up with a criminal record.  THIS IS NOT THE CASE IN EVERY COURT!

In progressive towns like Ann Arbor the judges and prosecutors have worked together to offer diversion at arraignment. They have you complete an intake form and then if you qualify they offer the diversion program in exchange for a guilty plea.

There are things that can go wrong even in these seemingly progressive cool towns like Ann Arbor.  If you plead guilty and you have a prior MIP or you have used up your diversion program chance in the past or have other pending legal cases you could be in hot water!!!  For example, the penalties could be more severe and you may get denied the diversion program after further investigation of your past by the probation department.  At that point you have already entered a guilty plea and you get to take your medicine for the habitual offender MIP offense.  That is why having a good competent MIP lawyer near your side even in what may seem like a harmless situation is a smart thing to do.  PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS and don’t get talked into doing dumb things simply to make a court docket move faster.

Diversion Programs and How They Work—–

In an MIP diversion program, an underage drinker or  student is put on  probation for 3 months to a year in most cases by the judge as recommended by a probation department. You could be ordered to  attend an alcohol awareness class,  attend several sessions of Alcoholics Anonymous, give breath samples at your local police department or a specialized center for alcohol testing or attend alcohol counseling or therapy. The programs vary by District Court.

Michigan law provides for a Diversion Program in such circumstances.  In all Michigan court diversion programs defendants must enter a guilty plea before the door is open to entry into the program.   In addition, the judge “may” place the minor on probation and require other terms. Therefore, it is not an automatic that the judge will grant diversion programing. Most diversion programs in Michigan are six months of probation with fees, classes and alcohol testing.

Unlike nearly all other criminal matters a diversion program for MIP is not made part of the public record so long as you comply with the conditions of your program or probation and the case is then dismissed by the court.

In other words, even though the police issued a ticket for MIP, summons you to court and faced the probation program you would not have to declare on an application for a job or answer questions to a college recruiter or admissions office that you a criminal conviction of a misdemeanor MIP. This is true even though you are on probation at the time.

If you flunk out of the diversion program by not paying your fine, failing alcohol breath testing, not attending your classes or counseling then you would be subject to immediate conviction of the MIP misdemeanor after a court finding that you did not follow the court’s Order of Probation or Diversion Programing.  So at that point, it is too late to run to your family lawyer to seek help.  Thus, getting an experienced and competent MIP attorney beforehand to know if you have a good defense to the MIP charge is desirable.  It could be that you would be able to fight the case before you have to even be placed on a diversion status.  The law is full of ambiguity and technicalities.  That is what lawyers do is find the legal problems in the case and bring it to attention of the Prosecutor and Judge.  Hopefully one of these will apply to your situation and help you avoid a lifetime record of conviction.



MIP is a Misdemeanor

MIP is a Misdemeanor

The Flint area is becoming increasingly a college town with an estimated 25,000 students now enrolled in the four largest colleges and universities in Flint, Michigan, the University of Michigan-Flint, Baker College, Mott Community College and Kettering University.  Along with a growing nightlife scene and the lure of fun and peer pressure comes drinking….even if the young person is not of age to drink alcohol.

That of course could lead to the first big mistake getting ticketed for being a minor in possession of alcohol.  The way the courts handle these seemingly small matters can have a huge and longer term impact on young students than they realize.  These offenses are increasing in number.

Having legal counsel by your side may result in the type of advice that keeps your record clean and out of sight of college recruiters, employers and yes off those applications for graduate school and licensing boards.

MIP in Michigan is serious business.  Michigan has some of the toughest laws in the nation when it comes to underage drinking.

Contrary to your mother and father’s generation when for many it was legal to consume alcohol at 18 years of age it is not a MISDEMEANOR for a person under the age of 21 to consume or possess alcoholic beverages.

Most misdemeanor crimes cannot be expunged from your permanent criminal record history.  In many cases MIP can be erased from your record if handled properly.  Michigan does not have a criminal record expungement law for misdemeanors as it does for certain felony crimes.  It seems unfair and it is unfair to stigmatize a minor mistake of youth for life.  Alcohol related offenses such as Furnishing a Fake ID to get or have alcohol, furnishing alcohol to minors, drunk or impaired driving are life offenses when it comes to your criminal record.

Clearly the consequences for alcohol related offenses are very serious considering the cost of today’s education, the length of time you have to carry around a criminal record and the possibility you cannot pursue your dream to become a license professional or enter some other line of work that requires background checks.

You need an experienced MIP attorney when you face an alcohol related charge.  The stakes are high and the changes you can represent yourself without legal counsel and get the best results are a risk you cannot afford.

If you need have a need to find an honest, competent and experienced MIP law please call (810) 732-9400 today for a Free Consultation.  Our fees are reasonable and we enjoy working with young people who want a vibrant and successful future.