The Office of the Public Defender provides representation for any indigent adults charged with a crime in St. Clair County. We also provide representation for indigent persons who are charged with violating a Personal Protection Order.
Our office also does not handle any other type of cases. As such, we do not represent persons in juvenile criminal matters, family law matters, civil matters, or in any other type of case.
At your arraignment, and depending on the type of charge you have, you may be required as part of your bond to test randomly for drugs and alcohol. Usually people are required to test three to five times per month at their own expense.
Most people who live locally are referred to Bluewater DRP for random testing. You will be given contact information for Bluewater DRP, and will be required to call them to set up your testing. There is an initial fee to set up testing, and then fees for each random test. Ordinarily you will be assigned a color. You must call the facility early in the morning to see if your color was called that day. If your color is called, you must then report for testing within a window of time set by the facility.
Clients are always urged to comply very strictly with these testing requirements. If you fail to test for any reason, the court may assume you are positive for alcohol or drugs regardless of whether you used or not.
Clients will often ask about their “discovery packet.”
In St. Clair County, there is no such thing as a discovery packet. Your attorney will receive discovery from the prosecutor once they are appointed and file an appearance letting the court know they will be representing you.
Discovery means the information that the prosecutor has obtained and will use in prosecuting you. It includes police reports, photos, written statements, bodycam videos, surveillance videos, phone records, and any other documents that may be relevant.
You are entitled to receive copies of all discovery information your attorney receives on your case. You simply need to make a request for it.
The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) is a law in the State of Michigan that allows youthful offenders to keep criminal convictions off of their record.
The statute applies to young adults who are between 17 and 24 years old. If you are between 17 and 21, when you resolve a case, you can ask the judge to grant a delayed sentence under HYTA. It is judge’s sole decision at sentencing as to whether to grant a person HYTA status. If you are sentenced under HYTA, and you successfully complete all terms and conditions of probation, you would not have any conviction relating to the case. It should be noted that you can still do some jail time as part of your sentence under HYTA.
If the crime occurs when you were older than 21 but less than 24, you can still ask the court to grant you HYTA status. The difference is if you are between 21 and 24, the prosecutor must consent to the delayed sentence as part of the plea agreement as well.
The Michigan Public Health Code contains a provision (MCL 333.7411) that allows first time offenders charged with possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia to keep criminal convictions off of their record. The statute is often referred to as “7411.”
If you are charged with possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, when you resolve your case, you can ask the judge to grant a delayed sentence under 7411. It is judge’s sole decision at sentencing as to whether to grant a person 7411 status. If you are sentenced under 7411, and you successfully complete all terms and conditions of probation, you would not have any conviction relating to the case. It should be noted that you can still do some jail time as part of your sentenced under 7411.
It should be noted that this law does not apply to charges involving delivery or possession with intent to deliver drugs.
Your driving privileges and driver’s license could be affected if you are convicted of a crime.
Most commonly, there will be some impact including a suspension of your driving privileges if you are convicted of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI), Driving on a Suspended License (DWLS) or Reckless Driving. Other crimes also may cause a suspension of your license. These include any felony in which a motor vehicle was used, and some drug offenses as well.
You should check with your attorney to discuss any possible sanctions to your license if you are convicted of a crime.
At the present time work release is not an option if you are sentenced to jail time.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, if the court granted a person work release, the jail would allow people to leave jail during the day to go to their employment. At the end of your work shift, you would then be able to return to the jail and stay there overnight.
However, because of the pandemic, the jail was not in a position to let people come and go from the jail on a regular basis due to concerns over people bringing the COVID-19 virus into the facility. As such, work release was halted. To date the jail has not re-instituted any of that programming.
An expungement is a way to remove past offenses from your public record. The process is also known as setting aside a conviction. Recent changes in Michigan law allow for up to three felonies and unlimited misdemeanors to be expunged from your record. However, certain types of crimes (including life offenses and most Criminal Sexual Conduct convictions) are not eligible to be expunged.
You will have to wait at least 3 years, and as long as 7 years, after you complete your sentence to apply to the court for an expungement. The time frame varies depending on the type of charge you are trying to remove from your record.
The Office of the Public Defender does not provide any services in regards to expunging prior criminal convictions.
You should consult a private attorney to assist you in this regard.