Criminal Defense News
Michel & Associates, P.C. has uncommon expertise in defending individuals and businesses against criminal charges. We pride ourselves in the depth of experience our attorneys possess from both sides of the criminal court bar. Several of our attorneys are former prosecutors who zealously handled the entire spectrum of criminal offenses in representing the government. Because of the real-world education our attorneys share with our firm, all of our lawyers hold prosecutors to the highest standard of conduct. In an increasingly politicized criminal courtroom environment, this is no easy task.
We represent clients in all criminal matters, from prefiling advocacy through trial. We are specially recognized for handling environmental crimes, firearms violations, and white-collar defense. These areas are among the most challenging in the field of criminal law due to the political factors involved. We steadfastly hold the government to its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, earning the gratitude of our clients and the respect of our peers for our strong advocacy in both state and federal courtrooms.
Increased interest in protecting the environment has led to increased prosecution of business operators, owners and managers, and their employees for violating environmental regulations. With our attorneys’ technical expertise and years of experience, we are uniquely suited to defend clients against these types of allegations in both criminal and civil court.
Firearm Offenses and Regulatory Compliance
Our work on behalf of firearm and accessory owners, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers facing criminal charges has garnered national recognition. Increasingly complex state and local laws regulating “assault weapons,” “high-capacity” magazines, and “destructive devices”; laws governing concealed weapons; and other firearm regulations increasingly confuse police and prosecutors, not to mention the general public. The political climate and lack of technical expertise possessed by many police, prosecutors, and judicial officers makes successfully defending against these allegations particularly challenging.
Special Investigations/White-Collar Defense
White-collar crimes are criminal violations that occur in a professional business or government setting. In the last 15 to 20 years, governmental prosecutors have been aggressively pursuing alleged white-collar crimes in several different industries, while Congress and state legislatures have passed new laws to regulate and punish this conduct. Some of the areas being subject to increased scrutiny include the health care industry, government contracting, the firearms industry, campaign financing, and environmental crimes.
Defending clients in white-collar investigations or prosecution poses unique problems and challenges. Michel & Associates, P.C. attorneys are well-equipped to meet those challenges while serving businesses and individuals who face white-collar criminal allegations. Our attorneys understand, and are sensitive to, the public relations ramifications of these matters and have significant expertise in environmental and firearm regulatory white-collar investigations and criminal defense. As trial lawyers and former prosecutors, our Criminal Defense practice group provides the skills and experience that add a critical element to our effective representation of clients. Our lawyers have tried numerous cases in state and federal courts, argued successfully before courts of appeal, and have been special counsel to a number of investigative commissions.
Our clients range from large corporations to small and emerging businesses. We represent high-profile individuals who have made their mark in business, public office, sports, and entertainment. We prize our ability to help our clients avoid problems before they become the subject of investigation, charges, or publicity. When appropriate and necessary, we have and can negotiate preindictment or pretrial settlements, including agreements that avoid any criminal sanction.
Clients recognize the value of requesting our assistance as a proactive measure and working with us to design and implement corporate-compliance programs to prevent and detect violations of criminal law. Similarly, knowing how prosecutors apply criminal laws in particular industries, we undertake compliance audits, draft and edit compliance plans, and assist in implementing those plans.
With the recent passage of Proposition 21, California juvenile law has changed its emphasis from rehabilitation to punishment. These changes affect all children charged with crimes, and a juvenile conviction can affect a child for a lifetime. Our attorneys are qualified to deal with the unique issues that arise in juvenile proceedings. Now more than ever, it is crucial that children have effective, aggressive representation to protect their rights and preserve their futures.
A child facing criminal charges is also commonly facing school disciplinary proceedings too. Our attorneys are experienced in representing children both in court and at school disciplinary or expulsion proceedings, including in matters involving learning disabilities or other special needs where unique laws and procedures apply.
Michel & Associates’s lawyers use their specialized experience in a variety of legal fields to assist patients, caregivers, doctors, cooperatives, collectives, dispensaries, and others associated with the cultivation, distribution, and use of medical marijuana. Michel & Associates’ attorneys typically assist our clients in business formation, licensing, permitting, tax collection, leasing of facilities, establishment and implementation of best management practices, interaction with and lobbying of state and local law enforcement and government representatives, seeking the return of seized property including marijuana, bringing civil actions to protect the rights of our clients, and defending against civil litigation and criminal prosecutions. For now at least, the federal government steadfastly refuses to recognize the medicinal value of marijuana, or even to acknowledge the difference between medical and recreational use of marijuana. So marijuana, including medical marijuana, is still illegal under federal law. But many states have enacted legislation that allows certain patients to use medical marijuana legally. In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act (CUA), allowing medical marijuana patients and their caregivers the right to cultivate and possess marijuana for medical use. And in 2003 the State Legislative passed Senate Bill (SB) 420, which gave the Attorney General the authority to clarify some aspects of the CUA.
Unfortunately, interpreting the often ambiguous Health & Safety Code provisions that set the CUA and SB 420 into law has proven to be extremely complicated and politically influenced. Legal interpretations of the CUA and SB 420 continue to evolve. In California, regulations and opinions regarding the application of the medical marijuana laws vary widely between cities, counties, State agencies, and multi-jurisdictional agencies. As some jurisdictions resist allowing dispensaries to operate, legal issues concerning the identification and qualification of patients and caregivers; forming, opening and operating a collective or cooperative; cultivating and distributing medical marijuana; recovering costs of operation; and getting back property seized by law enforcement officials are necessarily being resolved or refined through litigation. As cases work their way through the courts, judicial decisions often raise more questions than they answer.
Michel & Associates’ attorneys are uniquely qualified to represent our clients in what is still a highly charged and dynamic political environment, one in which inadvertent violations can be all too common, and potential legal consequences unjustly severe.
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