How to find the right college lawyer for your son or daughter, Levitt Law Firm, Todd Levitt, Attorney

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For more than two decades Todd Levitt, has represented college students who for the first time away from home find themselves in trouble. For a parent this can be devastating not knowing what just happened or how this will affect their child's future. The student potentially could face sanctions from the university as well as the court system. Most universities have available online code of conduct policies and procedures that outline the sanctions and penalties. Additionally, depending on the charge their could be jail time, driver license sanctions, probation, community service, random drug and alcohol testing, counseling, school release, work release and other court ordered sanctions.

WHAT SHOULD A PARENT DO?

Post Bail: Bail is cash, a bond, or property that an arrested person gives to a court to ensure that he or she will appear in court when ordered to do so. If the defendant doesn't show up, the court may keep the bail and issue a warrant for the defendant's arrest.

Example: Daughter is arrested for Drinking and Driving. Bond is set at $7,000.00 cash or surety. You have a number of options, you can post the $7,000.00 cash for a release which will then be applied to any court cost at the end of the case, balance refunded. Additionally, You can hire a bondsman to post the surety. A bondsman will charge a statutory amount set by the state. Typically, in Michigan on a $7,000.00 bond you can expect to pay less than a $1,000.00 to a bondman. The bondsman puts up a guarantee to the court on the remaining bond amount. If you fail to appear the bondsman will search for the absconder seeking to return the person to jail.  The money paid to the bondsman will not be refunded. Courts will also place a 10% on the $7,000.00 to gain release. Therefore you only have to pay the jail/court $700.00. The amount will then be applied to court costs at the conclusion of the case after the court takes a small fee.

personal recognizance bond: Defendants released on their own recognizance need only sign a written promise to appear in court as required. No bail has to be paid, either to the court or to a bail bondsman. However, all other bond condition remain in place.

If you are unable to post bond then your son/daughter will remain in jail pending arraignment before a judge or magistrate. 

Arraignment:  A criminal proceeding where the defendant appears before a judge or magistrate and is informed of the charges in the complaint or information. Your child will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or stand mute to the charges. Depending on the jurisdiction a hearing may also take place to address the issue of bond. Bond may be set, lowered or your child can be released on their own personal recognizance.  

Be sure to consult with a lawyer immediately upon learning that your son or daughter has been arrested.


Once your child has bonded out be sure to review the bond conditions. Typical conditions prohibit alcohol and drug use. Also, not to be engaged in any illegal activity. Violation of any conditions could result in the prosecutor filing a motion to terminate bond, thus your son or daughter goes back to jail. This will have a negative impact on the lawyers ability to negotiate and mitigate damages depending on the strength of the prosecutors case.

Pretrial: A pretrial is a hearing where the attorney meets with the prosecutor to discuss the case. This meeting serves as a first impression for most lawyers and prosecutors to determine the strength and weakness of each others cases. I personally keep my thoughts to myself not wanting to play my strengths at the onset of the case. And, in most cases discovery is not yet completed. 


Discovery: To begin preparing for trial, both sides engage in discovery. This is the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they’ll present at trial.Discovery enables the parties to know before the trial begins what evidence may be presented. It’s designed to prevent "trial by ambush," where one side doesn’t learn of the other side’s evidence or witnesses until the trial, when there’s no time to obtain answering evidence. (American Bar Association)

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT LAWYER TO REPRESENT MY SON OR DAUGHTER?
1) Hire a lawyer who specializes in the area of criminal law. Do not hire a family lawyer to handle a criminal matter.
2) Hire a lawyer who is familiar with the local prosecutors and judges. It is a major advantage as with any business to know and understand the personalities and people you are dealing with.
3) If you hire a specific  lawyer based on their reputation make sure that she is the one who will be appearing in court with your child not an associate of the firm. To often someone thinks they hired a certain lawyer based on an ad or reputation and never see or speak to that person.

4) Do not be afraid to ask any and all questions, this is your child's future and you need to understand the entire process from start to end.

5) Understand the difference between a retainer and a flat fee.

6) Ask if the firm has a waiver for your child to sign allowing you or your husband the ability to communicate with your child's lawyer. Paying the fee does not allow you access to any information without signed written consent from your daughter.

7) If the lawyer makes promise or guarantees an outcome I suggest your seek other council.  A lawyer cannot and should not promise conclusions to any case in any area of law. 

8) Do not rely upon any information you read online regarding the reputation or ability of an attorney. There are to many haters that surf the net spreading ill will and hate.  Using the factors above try to make a good educated decision who to hire.   

9) This may sound a bit off the grid, but ask the local gas station or coffee house attendant who they would recommend. Most often these employees have the pulse of what takes place in and around the community.

10) Do not be afraid to ask if the lawyer accepts payment plans or credit cards.

11) Feel free to ask the lawyer based on their experience what the potential outcomes could be.  

12) Some lawyers charge for a first time consultation. Be sure to ask up front if there is a charge to speak to a lawyer.

13) Most states have laws/statues that allow first time offenders if they plead guilty to avail themselves of the opportunity to walk away without a public conviction. There will always be a record kept with the court and law enforcement could see it. Yet for employment purposes and applications if the question arises have you ever been convicted a crime? depending on the law and successful completion of probation, your child could say no.

Receiving that collect call from jail in the middle of the night is terrifying. The feeling of helplessness and not knowing what to do or who to call is overwhelming. I hope that the above information provides some guidance and direction.  




Mount Pleasant, Michigan Lawyer, Todd L. Levitt has been representing college students for more than 20 years throughout lower and upper peninsula. Levitt Law Firm PC is located off the campus of Central Michigan University. Todd, offers free phone and walk in consultations. Todd Levitt, can be reached at 989-772-6000





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