Benzie County is a beautiful region in Michigan. The county is blessed with natural beauty and a low population density. Benzie County is a natural playground. The county shares a border with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Platte River, which flows into Platte Lake, is great for river tubing and canoeing. Not far out of Honor Michigan is the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Platte River Campground. In the winter there is great skiing at Crystal Mountain Resort. Benzie County is the smallest county per square mile in Michigan and the county seat is located in the village of Beulah. Benzie County is a great place to live and play. However, if your playing or vacation gets out of hand, attorney Matthew Benedict is a criminal defense lawyer in Benzie County who can help you and your family with your criminal law problems.

Benzie County has two criminal courts, the 85th District Court and the 19th Circuit Court. District Court has misdemeanor jurisdiction. I have handled many cases in the 85th District Court. In Benzie County, there are two prosecutors, due to the low caseload and relatively small population. In addition, there is a low number of court staff, and probation officers, in comparison to neighboring courts. Don’t be mistaken, this doesn’t make being charged with a crime in Benzie County any less serious.

A porch view of the Benzie County Government Center where a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Benzie County Michigan attends court.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Job Description in Benzie County

First and foremost, a criminal defense lawyer’s job is to ensure that the client is treated fairly by the court. This duty to ensure fair treatment extends to advocating the client’s constitutional rights when zealous police officers exceed their search and seizure authority. I have filed and won motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence. I have filed motions to exclude confession that resulted from Miranda Rights violations. The duty to ensure fair treatment also includes speaking on behalf of the client during sentencing, to make sure there is a fair sentence imposed. This procedure is called allocution. Benzie County district court judges noticeably use fewer presentence reports prepared by probation officers. This means that a criminal defendant has fewer opportunities to explain what happened or how the conviction will impact their family. Put another way, a defendant being sentenced after a guilty plea or guilty verdict has less opportunity to demonstrate their worth for leniency by the judge. Criminal sentencing and allocution are very important in the 85th District court, this procedure may be the only chance to earn leniency by the court. No criminal defendant should stand alone before a sentencing judge in Benzie County. Below is a video discussing errors made by defendants and lawyers during allocution.

View of opening frame of video discussing sentencing errors in District Court.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer in Benzie County Needs Experience

A criminal defense lawyer in Benzie County needs experience because the court docket moves quickly. The court docket moves along quickly in Benzie County, there is no time for an inexperienced criminal lawyer to learn as they go. A defense strategy needs to be formulated quickly, and that requires experience. I possess that experience from handling over 800 misdemeanors in the 86th District Court. Furthermore, know one of the Benzie County prosecutors from her time as a prosecutor in Grand Traverse County. I have both the legal and personal experience to make a difference for people charged with a crime in Benzie County.

Benzie County Common Crimes

In the district court, some common crimes in Benzie County include DUI or drunk driving, simple assault and battery, and domestic violence. The Benzie County prosecutor is a woman and the assistant prosecutor is also a woman. Both of whom are tough with Domestic Violence cases. A domestic violence charge in Benzie County will likely result in a no-contact bond for the defendant. Often this means families are immediately disrupted and separated. DUI or drunk driving in Benzie County has all the characteristics of any other Northern Michigan County. The 85th District Court in Benzie County does not operate a sobriety court tailored to second-offense drunk driving offenders. Felony charges are uniform across Northern Michigan county. All felony charges require a dedicated criminal defense attorney. I am a criminal defense lawyer in Benzie County that can make a difference.

Other Criminal Law Services

A good criminal defense lawyer in Benzie County also helps their clients on the back end. Back-end services are legal services to help the client as they clear or overcome a criminal conviction. The following are criminal law services that I offer.

Driver’s License Restoration in Benzie County

When people struggle with drugs or alcohol, their substance abuse problems often result in DUI convictions. When a driver has two or more DUI convictions within seven years, the Michigan Secretary of State revokes driving privileges for life. In order to get back on the road, the driver must go through the driver’s license restoration process. I have written many blog articles on how to get your driver’s license back. Visit my driver’s license restoration blog to learn more.

Criminal Conviction Expungement in Benzie County

Currently, there is a movement sweeping the nation to make the expungement of criminal convictions easier for people. The impact of a criminal conviction last for years resulting in loss of employment and housing opportunities for people convicted of a crime. My criminal conviction expungement service helps people finally free themselves of a criminal conviction. For more information visit my remove a criminal conviction page.

Personal Protection Order (PPO) Lawyer in Benzie County

A PPO is a civil protection order issued by the 19th Circuit Court in Benzie County. This order can be very restrictive and dramatically impact the respondent’s life. I have represented both people seeking a PPO and people defending a PPO. Most personal protection orders start with an ex parte order. If this order is contested by the respondent, the 19th Circuit Court will schedule a hearing. Attorney representation at this hearing makes a big difference. To learn more visit my PPO page here .

Call 231-883-4170 for help

Where are the Courts in Benzie County

Benzie County Government Center where a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Benzie County Michigan goes to court.

The 85th District Court, the 19th Circuit Court, and the Benzie County Probate Court are held within Benzie County Government Center at 448 Court Pl, Beulah, MI 49617. Benzie County maintains two courtrooms, one large courtroom and one small courtroom. Both courtrooms are located on the upper level or ground floor of the Benzie County Government Center.

Distant view of the Benzie County Government Center where a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Benzie County Michigan attends court.

There are two police departments serving Benzie County:

Benzie County Sheriff’s Department

Frankfort Police Department

Frankfort Criminal Defense Attorney

Frankfort is the largest city in Benzie County. Located at the intersection of Betsie Lake and Lake Michigan, Frankfort is one of the gems of Northern Michigan. Frankfort is one of those communities that swells in the summer. Frankfort hosts a July 4th celebration that is famous in Northern Michigan for fireworks. The Frankfort Public Beach and Playground is a world-class beach on Lake Michigan.

Frankfort has a police department that keeps busy during the summer months. The community always welcomes visitors but insists that the permanent residents remain safe from drunk driving and other crimes associated with good times. Should you find yourself on the wrong side of the Frankfort police department, I would be happy to help you in the 85th District Court.

Frankfort Restaurants

Stormcloud Brewing Company

Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar

Benzie County Restaurants & Attractions

Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre

The Roadhouse Mexican Bar & Grill