criminal defense attorney

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.

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.  

 

 

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.

 

 

Armed Robbery Charges Dismissed

Last week, in the 36th District Court, criminal defense attorneys Dana Nessel and Chris Kessel secured a major victory for their client.  Charges of armed robbery, felonious assault, and felony firearm, were all dismissed against our client.  The charges were brought as a result of an altercation where 5 people were present; the complaining witness and the 4 defendants.  The complaining witness claimed that he went to the home of one of the defendants, where all 4 men (including our client) were present.  According to the testimony, the 4 men asked the complaining witness about some money the men believed the man owed them.  Then, the conversation turned violent as three of he men engaged in a fight with the complaining witness.  The key was that there was never any testimony that our client was involved in the physical fight.  Eventually the men separated, at which point our client had a conversation with the complaining witness about the money he believed he was owed.  However, at that point, one of the other three men pulled a gun and began shooting into the air.

All four men were charged with armed robbery, felonious assault, and felony firearm.  At the preliminary exam, the attorney for the other defendants focused their attention primarily on the actions of the complaining witness.  However, Dana Nessel and Chris Kessel had a different strategy; focusing on the actions of their client.  Through extensive cross-examination of the complaining witness, Dana Nessel was able to establish that our client took no part in the actual fight, nor did he attempt to take any money from the complaining witness.

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Client Found Not Guilty Of All Charges

Client acquitted on all charges.

Criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel patted his client on the back as she in tears while the jury foreperson read the verdict.  After what must have seemed like an eternity (approximately 4 months), the nightmare was finally over.  Our client had been found not guilty on charges of Felonious Assault, Domestic Violence, and two counts of Malicious Destruction of Property.  It took the jury an entire 15 minutes to reach their verdict…though to be fair, they were not given a verdict form until approximately 10 minutes into the deliberation. 

The charges stemmed from allegations made by the “victim” that Mr. Kessel’s client had punched and scratched and thrown a heavy dinner plate and a large stick at him, all of which caused several cuts and bruises.  After that, the “victim” said that our client broke several windows and caused extensive damage to “victim’s”.  Our client claimed that the only injuries that her (now) ex-boyfriend sustained we as a result of her defending herself against his attack.  During cross examination, defense attorney Chris Kessel pummeled the complaining witness with all of the changes in his story.  The ex could not keep straight from where he had been before he came home, what damage had been done to his car, how our client had sustained injuries to herself, and even how many children he had in common with our client…the answer of which is actually zero.  At one point, while Mr. Kessel questioned the complaining witness, the judge, jury and audience burst out into laughter at some of the explanations given for the inconsistencies. 

The mood turned serious as Mr. Kessel’s client took the stand.  She testified how the “victim” had been abusing her for years while the two had been in a relationship.  She described, through tears, how the “victim” had come home intoxicated and began yelling at her.  When she told him she wanted to leave him, the verbal assault became a physical one, as he cut her wrist and knocked a tooth out.  Our client even brought the short she had been wearing, covered in blood, to show where she had bled after she had been attacked.

Thankfully the jury was able to see the sincerity in the client’s face.  When contrasted against the ridiculous story of the “victim”, as shown by attorney Kessel, there was no doubt in the jury’s mind. 

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.  

Criminal Charges Dismissed

Defense Attorney Chris Kessel Files Motion and Gets Case Dismissed.

A Third Circuit Court judge agreed with criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel that a Highland Park police officer violated his client’s 4th Amendment rights, thereby causing the case t be dismissed.  The client was thrilled when she realized that the charged against her were to be dropped because the prosecutor no longer had any evidence to support the charges.  The case was unique in that an officer was totally and completely honest when he described how he violated the client’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.  What was not unique was that the officer still did not believe he did anything wrong.

In his testimony, the officer described how he watched the client (legally) park her vehicle on the side of the road and then remain in the vehicle for several minutes.  The officer admitted that he had no reason to suspect that the client was engaged in any criminal activity, whatsoever.  Despite that fact, the officer activated his emergency lights and performed a traffic stop on the client.  According to the officer, he was conducting a “wellness check.”  Oddly enough, when cross examined by attorney Chris Kessel, the officer was forced to admit that he was not able to see anyone in the vehicle acting in a manner that would indicate anyone was in distress.  The officer also testified that when he approached the client he asked her for her license and registration.  His reason; “I wanted to know who I was talking to.”  However, the officer was unable to respond when Chris Kessel asked, “if you wanted to know who you were talking to, why didn’t you just ask her for her name?”

After argument, the judge sided with Mr. Kessel, agreeing that the officer had no authority to stop the client.  As such, the evidence recovered as a result of the traffic stop was suppressed and the case was dismissed.

New Michigan Gun Law

 

On March 4, 2015, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that would change the way concealed pistol licenses (CPL) were issued.  Yesterday that bill went into effect.  According to the Governor, the new bill will “streamline” how CPL’s are issued.  However some, including those at Nessel & Kessel Law, are concerned that the new law will allow for more potentially dangerous persons to possess and conceal weapons.

Under the “old system” each county had a 3 member “gun board” that would consider applications for CPL’s.  The board’s were comprised of various law enforcement officials; one of which was usually a member of the County Sheriff’s office.  If the applicant was not expressly prohibited by law from receiving a CPL, the board could still request an interview with the applicant.  The application could then be granted or denied based on the interview.

Under the new law, these gun boards have been dissolved.  When a person applies for a CPL, the clerk’s office has 45 days to issue a CPL.  If the applicant does not receive a denial after 45 days, his or her application will actually serve as a valid, temporary permit.  Additionally, now it is the county clerks and state police that will take responsibility for the application process. Applicants must disclose whether they’ve been diagnosed with any mental illness.  However, federal law prohibits the Michigan state police (which will now determine an applicant’s eligibility) from gaining access to mental health records.  The only exception is if the applicant was involuntarily ordered to receive treatment by a court.   Thus it’s likely no one will catch an applicant if he or she lies.

All this means that it will now become easier for citizens of Michigan to obtain CPL’s.  Unfortunately the minimal training required to receive a CPL does not do nearly enough to prepare a person in the event that they are forced (or simply choose to) use their firearm.  It is all too often that a person who legally owns and conceals their firearm will find themselves charged with a crime based on their use of the weapon.  It only takes a few seconds and a person can find themselves facing gun charges like Felonious Assault, Brandishing a Firearm, Reckless Discharge of a Firearm, and Felony Firearm.

If you or a friend or family member has been charged with a gun crime, contact the defense attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law.

 

Alleged Confession in a Rap Verse

Criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel found himself in a rather unique position yesterday.  The fact that he was holding a preliminary examination in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice was not unique, or even rare for that matter.  The fact that Chris Kessel’s client was charged with First Degree Murder was also unremarkable.  What made the situation so odd is that the prosecutor’s office claimed to have a confession by Chris Kessel’s client…and that the confession was made in the form of a rap verse that was alleged to have been recorded by the client. 

At the preliminary exam, it was clear that much of the case against Michigan criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel’s client is circumstantial.   Further, in a lengthy argument with the judge, Mr. Kessel argued that even if the court were to accept that the voice on the recording was his client’s, much of what is sung about in rap music is an exaggeration of facts.  Because of the low threshold of evidence required to take the case beyond the preliminary exam stage, the case was bound over.  However, defense attorney Chris Kessel is looking forward to fighting this case as it works its way through the justice system. 

Because of the unique nature of the case – or rather the confession – it garnered media attention.  Here is a link to the story done by Fox 2 and Charlie Langton.  Here is a link to a story by the Metro Times. 

Attempted Murder Charges Dismissed

Attempted murder, felony firearm, and reckless discharge of a firearm were just some of the charges that were dismissed after a preliminary exam held by defense attorney Chris Kessel, in the district court in the City of Taylor, Michigan.  It was alleged that our client, JM, had used a shotgun to shoot his son in the arm, in an attempt to kill him.  The allegations were supported by witness statements that claimed that the client had raised the weapon at his son, who was standing in a hallway in the family home, and fired a single shot, hitting him in the arm. 

During the exam the prosecutor continually tried to elicit testimony to show the defendant had acted intentionally.  The complaining witness (our client’s son) testified that there was a fight earlier in the day, which lead to a confrontation over the weapon that was later fired.  The prosecutor went over where the two men were standing, the position of their hands on the firearm, and spent a considerable amount of time on the significant injuries that the complaining witness sustained.  

Despite the allegations, the complaining witness, on cross examination, testified that he believed that the shooting was an accidental one.  The judge appeared skeptical at first, but then attorney Chris Kessel, with the help of the witness, reinacted the shooting for the court.  After the reenactment the judge told Chris Kessel that he found the demonstration most helpful…he then proceeded to dismiss all the charges.  The prosecutor tried to get the judge to add additional misdemeanors to the charging document, but the judge refused.

Our client went from looking at a possible prison term of a minimum of over 10 years to being home for dinner that night. 

If you or a friend or family member has been charged with any offense, make sure you have the best representation possible.  Contact the attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law today for a free consultation. 

New HYTA Law

Recently, the Michigan Legislature made what some what call a surprising move…they made life a little bit easier for young criminal defendants.  For years, criminal defendants aged 17-20 have able to take advantage of HYTA – the Holmes Youthful Training Act – as a way of avoiding a criminal conviction from staining their record.  When a youthful offender pled guilty to a certain offense, he or she, upon successful completion of that probation, would have the conviction suppressed from their criminal record.  The determination of whether or not HYTA status would be granted was in the sole discretion of the judge.  However, the new HYTA statute, while not perfect, has opened the door for more youthful offenders to be granted HYTA status.

Under the new statute, offenders up the age of 24 are eligible for HYTA probation.  However, there is a catch…for those aged 17-20, the decision regarding HYTA still resides with the judge.  For those aged 21-23, the decision to allow for HYTA rests not with the judge, but with the prosecutor.  This gives the prosecutors more leverage in negotiating pleas for those who wish to receive HYTA probation.

Defendants who enter guilty pleas to life offenses, traffic offenses, major drug offenses, or criminal sexual conduct charges, are disqualified from receiving HYTA probation.

Those placed on HYTA probation may be required to complete school, maintain employment, be placed on electronic tether, or be subject to a number of other requirements.  There is also the possibility of spending time a special branch of the MDOC, for up to 3 years.  However, there are certain offenses for which a defendant may NOT be sentenced to a term of incarceration.

If you or a family member of friend believe you may be eligible for HYTA probation, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law.