Criminal Investigations, Interrogations, Crime Classifications

Criminal Investigations

The criminal investigation is the first stage of the criminal procedure process. A suspect, or accused, may not know that an investigation is being conducted until he or she receives a phone call from the police or is placed under arrest. Unfortunately, a suspect is not usually prepared when these situations occur. The police are proficient interrogators and may ambush you with an agenda of questions. When confronted, most suspects are caught off balance while the police are equipped to gather specific information to bolster the investigation or corner a suspected party. Law enforcement officers ask questions that may appear to be innocuous. However, they are designed to obtain admissions which can establish relationships, motive, intent or place the suspect at or near the crime scene. In addition, police may attempt to get a suspect to cooperate (snitch) before the person has had a chance to consult with an attorney.

An understanding of one’s personal rights, the criminal process and how to handle a criminal investigation is among the most valuable practical knowledge that a person can possess.

What to Do if the Police Contact You

If you are contacted by the police, you should obtain the name and phone number of the detective or investigator. You can ask the officer the reason for the inquiry. However, the officer may not share any information during a pending investigation. Furthermore, you should advise the law enforcement officer that you do not wish to make any statements until you speak with a lawyer. Contact ABDO LAW if you are the subject of a criminal investigation, receive notice of a pending warrant or have been arrested in Macomb County, Oakland, Wayne or St. Clair Counties. As criminal defense lawyers in Macomb County, we can provide you with immediate representation during the criminal investigation process.

Police Interrogation: Never Talk to the Police Without First Consulting with a Lawyer

One of the most important individual rights, the privilege against self-incrimination, can be found in the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The privilege against self-incrimination, also known as the right to remain silent, is stated in the 5th Amendment as follows:

“No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

If you have ever been questioned by the police, then you may know how they operate. They may say that you don’t need a lawyer unless you did something wrong. In extreme cases, they may threaten to immediately arrest a person unless the person provides information or promises to cooperate. What you do not know about interrogation techniques can change your life!

How fast do you think a cop would “lawyer-up” upon being accused of a crime?

When you talk to the police, you could be saying just enough that gets you convicted of a crime. ABDO LAW has shared Youtube video, Don’t Talk to the Police, in various blogs and website pages. This video has had approximately 5,000,000 views and is an excellent resource on the subject of police interrogations and why you shouldn’t talk to the police.

I cannot say that ABDO LAW adopts a “100% Don’t Talk to the Police” rule. Each case has its own unique circumstances and dynamics. Strategically, there are cases when it can be in our client’s best interest to be interviewed by the police. This course of action can only be determined after evaluating all of the existing facts and circumstances and our client is fully informed of the right to remain silent. For Example:

ABDO LAW CASE RESULT: Our client was being investigated for embezzlement which would invariably lead to multiple felony charges. There was a paper trail of evidence which would link our client with several incidents of embezzlement and would support felony prosecution and conviction. Going against our usual judgment, we scheduled an interview with the police where our client confessed and agreed to repay full restitution before criminal charges were processed. Our client was given a major plea bargain by getting a misdemeanor with probation.

Crime Classifications: Felony, Misdemeanor, High Court Misdemeanor, Aiding, Abetting

The period of incarceration, or jail, is the basis for determining whether a crime is labeled as a misdemeanor or felony.

  • Misdemeanor: Minor or petty crimes (misdemeanors) are crimes that are punishable by not more than one (1) year in the county jail. In Michigan, misdemeanors are handled in the district or municipal courts. ABDO LAW handles misdemeanor cases in the district courts on a daily basis. Here is a list of misdemeanor cases that we see most often in the Macomb County District Courts:

    Retail Fraud (first or second degree)


  • Felony: A major criminal offense (felony) is punishable by more than one (1) year, up to life, in the state prison. After preliminary examination, all further proceedings for felony cases are handled in the circuit court. The Michigan Sentencing Guidelines classifies felonies cases based upon the severity of the offense as follows:

    Maximum Penalty

    • Class A Imprisonment up to life
    • Class B Imprisonment up to 20 years
    • Class C Imprisonment up to 15 years
    • Class D Imprisonment up to 10 years
    • Class E Imprisonment up to 5 years
    • Class F Imprisonment up to 4 years
    • Class G Imprisonment up to 2 years
    • Class H Jail or intermediate sanction
  • High Court Misdemeanor: In Michigan, some crimes are classified as a “high court misdemeanor”. The maximum penalty for a high court misdemeanor can carry up to 2 years imprisonment. The high court misdemeanor classification is much less stigmatizing than an offense which is branded as a felony. However, laws are not always consistent and some offenses which have a maximum stated penalty of 2 years, such as Resisting 4th Degree and Fleeing 4th Degree, are classified as felonies; not high court misdemeanors. Ironically, the offense of Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree (maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment) is classified as a high court misdemeanor.

  • Aiding, Abetting, Conspiracy: The penalty for aiding, abetting or conspiring to commit a crime is the same penalty as stated for the underlying crime. The following is partial jury instruction as used by the United States Federal Courts for someone charged with aiding and abetting:

    A defendant may be found guilty of [specify crime charged], even if the defendant personally did not commit the act or acts constituting the crime but aided and abetted in its commission. To prove a defendant guilty of aiding and abetting, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

    First, [specify crime] was committed by someone;

    Second, the defendant aided, counseled, commanded, induced or procured that person with respect to at least one element of [specify crime];

    It is not enough that the defendant merely associated with the person committing the crime, or unknowingly or unintentionally did things that were helpful to that person, or was present at the scene of the crime. The evidence must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with the knowledge and intention of helping that person commit [specify crime charged].

    The government is not required to prove precisely which defendant actually committed the crime and which defendant aided and abetted.

Consequences of a Felony Record

ABDO LAW has achieved successful case results encompassing not guilty verdicts, outright dismissals, reductions of major felonies to misdemeanors, alternative sentencing dispositions and lowering criminal charges to avoid exposure to prison terms based upon the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. Avoidance of a felony conviction is an important goal and can be a huge victory because a person convicted of a felony loses many personal rights including:

  • The right to become an elector and cannot vote, hold public office, or run for office
  • Disqualified from jury service for seven years
  • The ability to possess any firearms
  • Employment opportunities or ability to hold a professional license or permit
  • Travel restrictions to other countries including Mexico and Canada

Contact ABDO LAW for a free consultation and legal representation if you or a family member are the subject of a state or federal criminal investigation, warrant or have been arrested. A criminal investigation can last for several months before the police decide whether to press criminal charges. Initially, we save our clients from police interrogations, polygraph examination and plan a proactive course of action while a criminal investigation is pending. Once retained, we are often able to establish a working relationship with the investigative police agency. This is often the time to equalize negative forces by engaging in tactful legal maneuvers and diplomacy. Our involvement allows for us to schedule the arrest and arraignment process should a warrant be authorized.

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