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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.

Online Scam Targets LGBT Community

Members of the LGBT community have often found themselves the targets of crime.  Unfortunately, with the advent of technology, the range of these crimes has significantly broadened.  Recently, a number of gay men have become the focus of a blackmail scam.

These men would meet other gay men online and then engaged in consensual sexual acts.  However, almost immediately afterwards, these men would be contacted by a third party who would tell them that the person with whom they just engaged in consensual sexual acts with was a minor.  In Michigan, statutory rape is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  The third party would then tell these men that he would report them unless they paid him off.  Sometimes the payment was a few hundred dollars, but in other instances the payment would be upwards of $70,000.00. 

Many of these men contacted Dana Nessel, of Nessel and Kessel Law and founder of Fair Michigan, a nationally known civil rights attorney.  Ms. Nessel advised these men to contact the police because it was clear that they had been targeted by a scam artist.  Thankfully some of the men did and one man has been taken into custody. 

 

Here is a link to a story done by Channel 7 WXYZ, in which Michigan LGBT attorney Dana Nessel spoke about the matter. 

 

Client found not guilty of all charges.

Yesterday, at the Third Circuit court in Detroit, our client let out a sigh of relief as the jury foreperson read the verdict.  Our client was found not guilty of felonious assault, a 4 year felony, and malicious destruction of property, a misdemeanor.  The complaining witness was actually the uncle of our client, with whom the entire family has been feuding for years. 

The allegations were that our client went over to the complaining witness’s home with a bat and a rock and began yelling at the complainant.  It was then alleged that our client threw the rock at the witness and then swung that bat at him, damaging his vehicle.  During cross examination, defense attorney Chris Kessel was able to confront the witness with his conflicting versions of events.  In one instance, he claimed that he needed an ax to defend himself.  By creatively using the rules of evidence, Chris was able to show the jury that the first time he told this story to police there was no mention of an ax, nor was there any statement about seeing the client throw the rock.  Later, during cross examination by criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel, another witness admitted that damage that was alleged to have been done by out client had been done months ago.

Assault cases almost always rest solely on the testimony of eye-witnesses.  At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have the necessary skill and experience to cross examine these witnesses and find the holes and cracks in their story, thereby allowing us to expose the lies and fabrications in their story.  At Nessel and Kessel Law, not only do we know the law and how to use it to your advantage, but we know how to expose witnesses who are being less than honest.

Regardless of the issue, if you’ve been charged with an assaultive offense in the State of Michigan, you need a top criminal defense attorneyContact Nessel and Kessel Law today if you or a friend or family member has been charged with any crime.  

 

 

Self Defense and Deadly Force

Last night in the City of Detroit, a store owner shot and killed a man who reportedly attempting to commit a robbery inside the store.  There was no weapon recovered from the victim of the shooting.  I was asked a number of questions about the shooting by a young attorney when I was in court today, which made me realize how little most people (even attorneys)  understand about the law of self defense. 

Citizens in the State of Michigan have the right to use force to defend themselves.  However, as a criminal defense attorney in Michigan, I can promise you that the right of self defense is not absolute.  In order to legally use force to defense yourself: 1) you must be in a place that you are legally allowed to be; and 2) the force you use must be proportional to the force being applied to you.  In other words, if someone shoves you, you cannot pull out a gun and shoot that person.  The force used to defend one’s self must only be force that one “honestly and reasonably” believes is necessary to fight off the impending threat.  Another important note is that you may not be in the course of committing a crime when you use self defense.  This means that someone who broke into a house and was confronted by a homeowner possessing a gun could not take out his/her own gun and shoot that home owner and claim self defense.

When it comes to the use of deadly force, the same rules apply.  This means that a person who “reasonably believes” that they are faced with the risk of death or great bodily harm may use deadly force to combat that risk.  A person may also legally use deadly force is they reasonable believe that force is necessary to stop/prevent a sexual assault.  However, again, if there is neither of these risks, deadly force may not legally be used.   

Finally, Michigan is now a “stand your ground” state.   This means that so long as you are in place where you are legally allowed to be, there is no “duty to retreat” before using force to defend one’s self. 

Here is a link to Michigan’s self defense statute.

Marijuana Suppressed – Case Dismissed

At a hearing in the Third Circuit Court, after argument by defense attorney Chris Kessel, Judge Bruce Morrow declared that the actions of the Taylor Police Department violated Mr. Kessel’s client’s constitutional rights and then suppressed evidence recovered by the officers.  The end result of the ruling was that the charges against Mr. Kessel’s client were dismissed.

Attorney Chris Kessel filed a motion alleging that the police had violated his client’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights by coercing consent to search the client’s home and by questioning him without Mirandizing him.  The hearing saw testimony from a member of the Taylor Police Department, a member of the DRANO task force, and Mr. Kessel’s client.  The officers testified that they had a positive hit by a drug dog on the client’s vehicle.  They then testified that the client, after being taken into custody, had given consent for the officers to search his home.  On cross-examination, Mr. Kessel established that no narcotics were recovered from the vehicle (that it was not a positive hit) and that his client was in custody while he was being questioned, and that the consent that was granted for the search was done after the officers threatened the client.

Judge Morrow asked for supplemental briefs on the issue of custody and consent.  At today’s hearing, the judge agreed with Mr. Kessel’s argument that the officers had violated the client’s Fifth Amendment right to receive his Miranda rights before being questioned.  The judge also agreed that the client only gave consent to search his home because he had been coerced by the officers.  With the evidence suppressed, the prosecution was left with no choice to allow the court to dismiss the case.

Drug cases tend to be the most complicated cases because of all the different issues that may come up.  That means you need a drug defense attorney who knows the law and how to use it to your advantage.  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.

There are almost always 4th Amendment issues when dealing with narcotics charges because the arrest usually stems from a stop on the street or while driving, from the execution of a search warrant, or because of the use of a confidential informant to secure information used to perform a stop or obtain a warrant.  Many times your case will hinge on whether or not your 4th Amendment rights have been violated.

Narcotics charges also hinge heavily on police officer testimony.  Generally there will be multiple officers who take part in a “raid.”  At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have the necessary skill and experience to cross examine these officers and find the holes and cracks in their story, thereby allowing us to expose the lies and fabrications in their story.  At Nessel and Kessel Law, not only do we know the law and how to use it to your advantage, but we know how to expose witnesses who are being less than honest.

Regardless of the issue, if you’ve been charged with a drug offense in the State of Michigan, you need a top criminal defense attorney.  Contact Nessel and Kessel Law today if you or a friend or family member has been charged with a drug offense.

 

 

Chris Kessel discusses Ferndale murder and PPO’s.

Tragedy struck Ferndale, Michigan recently where a man allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend and then himself.  The woman, who at the time of the story had not been named, had expressed concern regarding the man’s behavior.  In fact, she had recently filed for a PPO against the suspect.  Channel 7, WXYZ Detroit reached out to Chris Kessel, an expert in the area of PPO law, to discuss the case.

Here is a link to the story. 

Chris Kessel on Fox 2 Let It Rip

The case of former City Counsel president, Charles Pugh, has gained national attention in the past weeks and months.  Knowing that, defense attorney Chris Kessel appeared on Fox 2 Detroit’s Sunday morning Let It Rip, in an episode dedicated to the case of Charles Pugh. 

Mr. Kessel was asked to be on the program because of his extensive knowledge and experience defending those charged with criminal sexual conduct, especially those charged in cases involving child complainants.  Chris Kessel was asked about potential defenses, what type of juror would be ideal for a case such as this, and what potential sentence Mr. Pugh may be looking at. 

Here is a link to Chris Kessel’s appearance. 

“The police didn’t read me my Miranda rights?”

When police need to read you your Miranda rights.

Many times when a client first walks through the door of Nessel and Kessel Law and we begin to discuss their case, I’m often asked “how can they charge me, the police read me my rights?!”  As some of the top Detroit criminal defense attorneys, I can tell you that this question comes from too many people watching too much Law & Order type television.  While many people may not know it, the “rights” they are referring to are commonly referred to as “Miranda rights.”

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