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Another Not Guilty Verdict

On Count 1, Home Invasion – First Degree, we the jury find the defendant not guilty.
On Count 2, Felony Firearm, we the jury find the defendant not guilty. 
On Count 3, Felonious Assault, we the jury find the defendant not guilty.

These were the words read by the foreperson at Michigan defense attorney Chris Kessel’s trial.  Our client immediately burst into tears when the verdict had been completed.  Had he been convicted, our client would have been looking at a minimum of 2 years in prison on the felony firearm count and an additional 2 or 3 years on the other counts…so you can understand the tears.

The case centered around allegations made by an old friend of our client; that our client and his nephew broke into the complaining witness’s home, assaulted him with a pistol and threatened his life.  Our client’s entire defense rested on Chris’s ability to turn the “victim’s” words against him.  Thankfully Chris is a top defense attorney and was up to the task.  Among the points Chris was able to make were that: 1) even though he claimed to have been struck many times by a pistol in the head and face, the complaining witness had no injuries, 2) initially the complaining witness never mentioned having been struck with a pistol, but later changed his story repeatedly to increase the number of times he’d been struck, 3) during the 911 call, there was never any mention of being struck with a weapon or having any sort of death threats made, 4) the complaining witness explicitly said that our client said nothing after hitting him with the pistol…only to later change his story to say the client told him he would kill him if he called the police.  While these are only some of the inconsistencies Chris Kessel was able to show the jury, there was still tension in the air as the jury came out with their verdict.     

At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have decades of experience dealing with assault charges.  Because we are top criminal defense attorneys, when a client retains Nessel and Kessel Law we immediately begin to develop a comprehensive strategy for success.   Sometimes success means convincing the prosecutor to dismiss the charges completely, or have them greatly reduced.  Other times it means a motion to suppress evidence to have the case dismissed by a judge, or fully preparing for trial and securing a not guilty verdict. 

Assault charges are often fueled by emotional and hostile witnesses.  More often than not, a verdict will hang solely on the testimony of a complaining witness.  The means that you need an attorney who is skilled in the art of cross examination, who can force a witness to admit things that may contradict earlier statements, police reports, hospital records, and other witnesses.  Other times a case will turn on what the defendant’s intent was during the alleged assault.  It can often times be difficult if not impossible to prove what someone’s intent was.  At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have the experience needed to persuade a prosecutor, judge, or jury that you did not have the necessary intent to convict.  

If you or a family member has been changed with an assaultive, contact the defense lawyers at Nessel and Kessel Law today.

Client Acquitted of Attempted Murder Charges

“Not guilty on Count 1, Assault with Intent to Murder.  Not guilty on Count 2, Assault with Intent to Commit Great Bodily Harm Less Than Murder.  Not guilty on Count 3, Felonious Assault.”  Those were the words uttered as the verdict was read in criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel’s most recent trial.  The trial was held in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit, Michigan.  As you can imagine, our client was thrilled.  In fact, she immediately burst into tears as the verdict was read. 

The charges were based upon allegations that the client had been involved in what can only be described as a massive street brawl.  One of the responding officers described the scene as “complete chaos and total mayhem” in his report.  The allegations were that our client and another defendant assaulted several neighbors.  Specifically it was alleged that out client stabbed a woman several times in the back and in the head.  However, at trial, top defense attorney Chris Kessel was able to pit each of the witnesses against each other.  The alleged victim said that the client came out of her home and stabbed her.  Another witness, when pressed, said she saw the client get out of a nearby vehicle and stab the complainant.  Finally, the alleged victim’s own mother was forced to testify that she never saw the client do anything.  These conflicting versions of events, coupled with a suspect identification of the actual assailant all resulted in a quick and decisive verdict.  This was a particularly satisfying victory for Michigan defense attorney Chris Kessel, as the client was facing approximately 25 years in prison were she to be convicted. 

At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have decades of experience dealing with assault charges.  Because we are top criminal defense attorneys, when a client retains Nessel and Kessel Law we immediately begin to develop a comprehensive strategy for success.   Sometimes success means convincing the prosecutor to dismiss the charges completely, or have them greatly reduced.  Other times it means a motion to suppress evidence to have the case dismissed by a judge, or fully preparing for trial and securing a not guilty verdict. 

Assault charges are often fueled by emotional and hostile witnesses.  More often than not, a verdict will hang solely on the testimony of a complaining witness.  The means that you need an attorney who is skilled in the art of cross examination, who can force a witness to admit things that may contradict earlier statements, police reports, hospital records, and other witnesses.  Other times a case will turn on what the defendant’s intent was during the alleged assault.  It can often times be difficult if not impossible to prove what someone’s intent was.  At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have the experience needed to persuade a prosecutor, judge, or jury that you did not have the necessary intent to convict.  

If you or a family member has been changed with an assaultive, contact the defense lawyers at Nessel and Kessel Law today.

 

Marijuana Charges Dismissed

This week in the district court for the City of Eastpointe, top Michigan defense attorney Chris Kessel convinced prosecutors to dismiss a marijuana charges against his client.  The client was traveling in Eastpointe when he was stopped for “speeding.”  When the officers approached the vehicle, they claimed that they smelled marijuana inside of the vehicle.  Using the pretext of the alleged smell, the officers then searched the vehicle and recovered a small amount of marijuana under the passenger seat.  The client was then charged with possession of marijuana.

What the police and prosecutor didn’t know was that the client was driving his mother’s car and that his mother has a medical marijuana card.  At a preliminary hearing, defense attorney Chris Kessel was able to successfully argue that because the car that was being driven belonged a medical marijuana patient and because the amount was relatively small, there was no way to prove that the client had knowingly possessed the marijuana.  Thankfully the prosecutor realized what the outcome of trial would likely be, so the case was dismissed.  Continue reading “Marijuana Charges Dismissed” »

Successful Plea Reached

In some cases, a “win” is a not guilty verdict at the end of a hard fought trial.  In other cases, finding a way to avoid trial and still make your client happy is what’s best for all parties involved.  In a case this week, while there was no trial, there was definitely a win for our client.  Originally, our client was charged with two felonies: breaking and entering a building and malicious destruction of property – greater than $20,000.  Each of these charges carries up to 10 years in the Michigan department of corrections, as well as thousands of dollars in fines.  Our client has a wife and a young son, so even a jail sentence was not an option.

Thankfully, our client had hired two of Michigan’s top criminal defense attorneys.  After having multiple meetings with the special prosecutor out of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, we were able to have both felony counts reduced to misdemeanors.  Not only that, but we were able to lock in a sentence of probation, meaning our client wouldn’t have a spend a single night away from his family.  However, this plea had another positive note to it.  By only having two misdemeanors on his record, out client will be eligible to have his convictions set aside (expungement) after his probation is complete.

Chris Kessel is an expert in expungements and wanted to make sure that when this process is over, his client will have a clean record.  In Michigan, a person may have two misdemeanors on their record and have them BOTH expunged afterwards.  Thus, not only will our client avoid a felony conviction and jail time, but his record will be clean when all is said and done.

Dana Nessel honored

Criminal defense attorney and civil rights icon, Dana Nessel, will be recognized next week by Wayne State University’ Law School.  At the annual Treasure of Detroit ceremony, Ms. Nessel will be recognized with several other promenent members of Detroit’s legal community who have made significant contributions to the practice of law

As a graduate of Wayne Law’s class of 1994, Ms. Nessel began her career with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, where she  served in several specialized units. During her tenure Dana Nessel successfully prosecuted dozens of murder cases, specialized in “shaken baby” cases, and prosecuted major auto theft and chop shop rings, to name only a few of her areas of practice.

2005, Dana Nessel left the prosecutor’s office to enter the world of private practice, where she has become renowned as a staunch defender of constitutional rights. In her criminal practice, Ms. Nessel has vigorously defended hundreds of criminal cases, from petty theft to first degree murder. Dana Nessel’s extensive knowledge of the law and her personal experience with the judges, prosecutors and police officers in the area makes her ideally suited to best advise her clients on their concerns, and to know how to approach their cases. As a result, she is able to achieve results unmatched by most attorneys’ practicing in the area, making her one of the top criminal defense attorneys in Michigan.

While Ms. Nessel’s practice has a heavy emphasis on criminal defense, she also handles civil rights actions, family law matters, and general tort litigation. Ms. Nessel is recognized as one of the premier litigators of LGBT issues in Michigan. In 2010, Ms. Nessel brought the matter of Harmon v. Davis, in which a Michigan court, for the first time, held that a non-biological parent in a same-sex couple could establish custodial rights to the couple’s children. Ms. Nessel also successfully petitioned for the first second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples in Oakland and Wayne Counties. She has defended and acquired exonerations for scores of defendants wrongly targeted for prosecution based on sexual orientation and has represented various clients terminated from employment based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2012, she spearheaded the precedent-setting case, DeBoer v. Snyder, which challenged the bans on adoption and marriage for same-sex couples in Michigan. Deboer was later consolidated with its affiliated Sixth Circuit cases into Obergefell v. Hodges in the United States Supreme Court. This landmark case legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. In 2014, Ms. Nessel, along with her co-counsel on DeBoer, was honored with the “Champion of Justice” award by the Michigan State Bar Association. In 2015, she was designated as “Woman of the Year” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Ms. Nessel is also an officer for Fair Michigan, an organization dedicated to the equal protection of women and LGBT residents under the Michigan Constitution.

Here is a link for information regarding the Treasure of Detroit ceremony.

Armed Robbery Charges Dismissed

Multiple counts of Armed Robbery and one count of Felony Firearm were dismissed against M.D., a client of criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel.  It was alleged that our client, while armed with a pistol,  approached two men and demanded their money and their vehicle.  As the alleged robbery took place at night, the identification of the assailant would prove to be the main issue in the case.  

At the preliminary exam, held in the 36th District Court, the prosecutor succeeded in having the complaining witness point to our client and identify him as the man who pointed the gun at him and demanded his belongings.  While the man admitted that the assailant was wearing a hood and the area was “somewhat dark”, he still claimed that he could positively identify the man who robbed him.  When asked to do so, he pointed at our client and claimed he was the man who robbed him.  However, this positive identification would not last for long.

Upon cross-examination by defense attorney Chris Kessel, the complaining witness began to shy away from his identification of our client.  He was forced to admit that because the robbery took place at night and because the only light source was across the street he was not actually able to get a good look at the assailant.  The witness then admitted that he was more focused on the gun being pointed in his face than he was on the face of the person pointing the gun.  Chris Kessel also got the witness to admit that the hood the robber was wearing covered a substantial portion of the upper half of the robber’s face.  Finally, after going over line after line of his written description of the assailant, the witness agreed that our client did not match all portions of the description given only hours after the robbery.  After approximately 30 minutes of cross-examination, the witness readily admitted that he was not sure if our client was actually the man who robbed him. 

The prosecution argued vigorously that the complaining witness had already identified the defendant, thus the case should be bound over.  However, Mr. Kessel pointed out that if the only thing that mattered was what a witness stated on direct examination, there would be no need for a Sixth Amendment right to confront one’s accuser.  The judge agreed and the case was dismissed entirely. 

The Nessel and Kessel Approach

At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have decades of experience dealing with assault charges.  Because we are top criminal defense attorneys, when a client retains Nessel and Kessel Law we immediately begin to develop a comprehensive strategy for success.   Sometimes success means convincing the prosecutor to dismiss the charges completely, or have them greatly reduced.  Other times it means a motion to suppress evidence to have the case dismissed by a judge, or fully preparing for trial and securing a not guilty verdict.  Robbery and Assault charges are often fueled by emotional and hostile witnesses.  More often than not, a verdict will hang solely on the testimony of a complaining witness.  The means that you need an attorney who is skilled in the art of cross examination, who can force a witness to admit things that may contradict earlier statements, police reports, hospital records, and other witnesses.  Other times a case will turn on what the defendant’s intent was during the alleged assault.  It can often times be difficult if not impossible to prove what someone’s intent was.  At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have the experience needed to persuade a prosecutor, judge, or jury that you did not have the necessary intent to convict.   If you or a family member has been changed with an assaultive, contact the defense lawyers at Nessel and Kessel Law today.

Dana Nessel and Fair Michigan

This week in The Detroit Jewish News, their cover story was about Dana Nessel and her Fair Michigan Project.  The article is a profile of civil rights attorney Dana Nessel and the story behind her creation of the Fair Michigan Project, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and the LGBTQ community.

Here is a link to the story.

Violent Animal Charges Dismissed After Motion Hearing

In the 36th District Court, criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel won a significant legal victory for his client, resulting in multiple charges, some of which required mandatory jail time, being dismissed.  Our client was charged with possessing a vicious animal, owning an unlicensed animal, and allowing a dog to walk without a leash.  The possessing a vicious animal charge required a mandatory jail sentence.  These charges stemmed from an unfortunate incident where our client’s dog got off its leash and bit a local teenager.

Regarding the possession of a vicious animal charge, it was attorney Chris Kessel’s position that in order to be convicted for possessing a vicious animal, the prosecution needed to prove that the client had some actual or prior knowledge that the dog in question was actually vicious.  It was the City of Detroit’s position that, despite the fact that the animal in question had NEVER been involved in any type of biting incident prior, that our client could still be convicted because the crime is a “strict liability” crime.  A strict liability crime is one where there is no requirement of the defendant to have the intent to commit a crime, but only to have the intent to commit an act that later turns out to be against the law.  Thus, it was Detroit defense attorney Chris Kessel’s position that because our client didn’t know the animal was capable of being vicious she could not be convicted of possessing a vicious animal.

At a motion hearing before Judge Bryant-Weekes, Mr. Kessel presented argument citing the Michigan court of appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court.  Mr. Kessel argued that at its most basic, common law level, unless specifically noted otherwise, all statutes should have some requirement of “bad intent” before a person is convicted of a criminal offense.  After lengthy briefs were filed and arguments were made, Judge Bryant-Weekes issued her written opinion siding with Mr. Kessel.  Thus, because there was no way the City of Detroit could prove our client had any knowledge that the animal was “vicious”, the charges were dismissed.