Recent Cases

Assault and Battery reduced to Loitering

There are lots of cases that, as criminal defense attorneys, we wish would go to trial.  However, as I (Chris Kessel) tell all my clients, this is not, “let’s do a trial because Chris Kessel likes to do trials” time.  Representing clients charged with criminal offenses is about the client and what they believe is best for their life…even if you know you have a “slam dunk” case (disclaimer: there is NO SUCH THING as a slam dunk case).  Today, in the 67th District Court in Flint, Michigan criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel represented a client in such a case.

Our client was charged with assault and battery for allegedly punching another man.  This man happened to be the ex-husband of our client’s girlfriend.  How our client was charged, we will never know, because the facts of the case were these: the complaining witness, our client, and our client’s girlfriend, were all at a baseball game in which the children of the complaining witness and the girlfriend were playing.  At some point the complaining witness began screaming obscenities at our client’s girlfriend.  Our client stepped in and told him to stop cursing, at which point the complaining witness shoved out client, who fell to the ground.  When our client got up the complaining witness pulled back with his fist, as though he was about to punch our client, at which point our client punched the man in the face and broke his jaw.  Let me be clear, this is not our client’s version of events.  This is a summary of the police report which included statements from our client, the complaining witness, and another witness unrelated to anyone involved.

I know what you’re thinking…and our client was the one who was charged??!?!

And so the dilemma: take a case to trial that our client would almost surely prevail (there are never ANY guarantees in a trial) or try and resolve the case quickly.  After considering his options our client chose to resolve the case quickly and not drag things out.  And so defense attorney Chris Kessel was able to have our client’s assault and battery charge reduced to a loitering ticket.  Not only did he receive no discretionary fines and no probation, but his case was closed out on the spot.

Sometimes it’s for the best to resolve a case without a trial, even when your gut tells you that a trial would not only be successful, but tremendously enjoyable.  You should make sure that you have an attorney who knows the law, but also knows the practical aspects of taking a case to trial and who has a record of being able to work out desirable resolutions if that’s what you want.

Not Guilty of Criminal Sexual Conduct – Second Degree

Our client was crying, his family was crying…even defense attorney Chris Kessel almost shed a tear when the jury finished reading their verdict; not guilty on charges of Criminal Sexual Conduct – Second Degree.  The case had been awaiting trial for over 10 months, but it had been haunting our client for almost 10 years…

In 2009 our client was approached by the Warren police department regarding an allegation made by his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, that he had inappropriately touched her.  The client adamantly denied that anything had happened and eventually the case was dropped.  Then, in 2017, the girl – now 14 – again began telling people that our client had molested her when she was 5.  This time the claims led to charges being filed against our client.  He was arrested and placed on a $200,000 bond.  Thankfully his finance’ was able to contact Michigan defense attorney Chris Kessel and Nessel and Kessel Law. 

At the preliminary exam at the 37th district court, the prosecutor had the girl go into great detail about the alleged touching.  However, at the same hearing, Chris Kessel was able to get the girl to admit that she couldn’t remember any of the details of the event.  Then, in what would prove the most meaningful exchange in the case, the following questions and answers were placed on the record: 

Q: Isn’t it true that you didn’t have any physical contact with my client?
A: Yes.
Q: And isn’t it true he never touched you at all?
A: Yes. 

Despite this testimony at the preliminary exam, the case was still bound over for trial.  8 months later the trial commenced.  For 3 days a jury heard testimony about a girl who was emotionally damaged, depressed, and still effected because of what happened to her.  However, at the same time, Chris Kessel used the same witnesses to show that the girl had repeatedly changed her story, told the story when it would get her out of trouble, and forced her to confront her prior testimony that our client had never actually touched her at all. 

The jury deliberated for a entire 25minutes before returning their verdict of “not guilty.” 

 Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) cases are especially sensitive because conviction will truly be life changing. Being found guilty for sex offenses in Michigan will haunt and follow a defendant for the rest of their lives. This is an area of the law where false allegations, misrepresentations, and witness manipulation will often times affect the results of a case, especially with sexual crimes involving minors. Not only do these cases create the potential for serious jail and prison time, they also carry the burden of registering as a sex offender. As these cases are often very fact driven, a successful defense to sex offenses requires a complete cross examination and a through analysis of the physical evidence performed by experienced sex crime lawyers. Only knowledgeable defense attorneys will have the expertise to get to the bottom of these allegations, preventing charges of sex crimes from affecting a defendant’s entire life.

Expungement Granted

We all did things when we were younger that we regret as adults.  It’s just a fact of life.  Thankfully, not every poor choice we make as children and teenagers results in a permanent stain upon our adulthood.  Such was the case in the 25th district court in Allen Park this past week, where expungement attorney Chris Kessel was able to convince a judge to remove a conviction from his client’s record. 

When she was 19, our client committed the offense of retail fraud – 3rd degree…she shoplifted a pair of leggings.  She was, as is often the case, caught on camera and stopped by security before leaving the store.  When she ended up before a judge in Allen Park, she pled guilty and was given a one year term of probation.  She went on to complete her probation, graduate from college, enter the police academy, and became a sheriff in another state.  Now, 7 years later, as a mother of two she wanted a career change.  So while – amazingly – to be an officer you don’t need a clear criminal history, to go into the nursing field you do need a clean record.  Enter Michigan defense attorney Chris Kessel…

Chris had the petition prepared, sent in, and the matter was set for a hearing in a matter of weeks.  Once before the judge, expungement attorney Chris Kessel made it clear to the judge that this was a one time event and that the client was not only eligible, but deserving of having the conviction set aside from her record. 

The importance of a clean record cannot be understated, especially for those trying to find employment or trying to enroll in school. If you qualify for an expungement, you want to make sure that the matter is handled properly and successfully.  Don’t leave your future to chance! Trust Nessel & Kessel Law, top criminal defense lawyers in have the experience and legal knowledge to clear records of clients eligible for expungement and we can help you!

 

 

Client Removed From The Sex Offender Registry

Regardless of the outcome, it’s not uncommon for clients and their families to be emotional after a SORA removal hearing.  However, after a recent particularly contentious hearing, both our client and his family were almost in tears.  Prosecutor’s regularly object to these petitions…in fact defense attorney Chris Kessel has never had a hearing where a prosecutor didn’t object.  But the prosecutor in this case didn’t merely object, but called my client a predator and a monster. 

However, while the prosecutor was only able to name call and place blame for kinds of tragic events at our client’s feet, attorney Chris Kessel was able to establish to the judge that his client was no longer a threat to society.  Not only could Chris present a client who had successfully completed his probation and counseling and who has a long educational and work history, but he was able to show the judge that his client was simply not the type of person the SOR was meant for.  And even after the prosecutor personally attacked our client, Chris Kessel was able to remind the judge that the legislature allows for court to make determinations based on a particular client and their circumstances and not the argument that no one should be allowed to be off the registry. 

Thankfully the judge saw it our way and signed the order allowing our client to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry. 

It’s important to know that you only get one shot at clearing your name, and the process of sex offender removal is incredibly complex. Both petitioning for removal and going through the hearing process involve extensive paperwork and other technicalities often present problems preventing defendants from being removed from the list. If your hearing does not go well and your name is not removed from the SORA, you will remain on the registry for the full term dictated by law. Don’t go through this process alone! You need the experienced and skilled sex crime attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law to make the most of your one opportunity at clearing your name for good.

Murder Charges Dismissed

After facing murder charges stemming from an event that took place in 2015, our client almost fell over when a judge at the 36th district court ruled that the case would be dismissed for lack of evidence.  Michigan defense attorney Chris Kessel was thrilled with the result, as he walked out of the courtroom with his client’s family.

The charges had actually been issues once before, back in 2015, but had been dismissed because a witness failed to appear.  When the case was reissued our client was plucked from his home and dropped into the Wayne County Jail, not fully understanding what had happened.  Several witnesses testified at the preliminary exam, though none of them could say that our client had been driving a vehicle at the time the vehicle was involved in a fatal crash.  However, unlike the first time the case was brought, the prosecution presented an additional witness who testified that someone had told him that the client was seen driving an automobile that was involved in an accident.  However, because the witness, an EMS worker, could not identify who spoke to him or describe the manner of the statement, Detroit defense attorney Chris Kessel objected to the statements as hearsay. 

At the end of the exam the judge took the extraordinary step of ordering the transcript of the hearing so that he could determine whether or not the new witness could support the renewed charges of murder.  After several week of consideration, the judge ruled that the new witness could not sustain the reissuance of the charges and the case as dismissed.    

Murder 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.

 

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.

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.