About Attorney Dustyn Coontz
My name is Dustyn Coontz and I am a criminal defense attorney serving Lansing and the surrounding areas. This is the part of most lawyers’ websites where they talk about themselves – the honors in law school they received, their career accomplishments, and their community involvement. I am not going to do that. Not because I don’t have those things, but because you probably don’t really care all that much.
If you are on my website, you are probably going through one of the toughest, darkest, scariest times of your life. I want to get you through that. If you have been wrongly accused, I want to get you acquitted. If you are experiencing something in your personal life that caused you to make a bad decision, I want to get you somewhere that can help you through that personal problem. If you made a mistake, I want to make it so that mistake doesn’t define the rest of your life.
So if you want to know about me, here is what you should know: I am a skilled, successful lawyer and I practice criminal defense because it’s what I am passionate about. I enjoy helping people through some of the worst times of their lives. Whether you’re facing drug crime charges or a DUI, I can help.
Get to Know Me
I went to law school with the mindset that I wanted to be a human rights lawyer. I wanted to prosecute the people and governments that are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Understandably, it ticks me off when governments come after their own citizens. When in law school, I saw that American citizens (especially people of color) are often mistreated by my government. I’m not okay with that. I believe in America’s ideals of liberty, the rule of law, and equal protection. If we can’t get those things right on our own soil, how can we be the City on a Hill for other countries who don’t even have these ideals enshrined in a constitution like we do? I figured the best way to fight our sometimes repressive government is to practice criminal defense.
In short, me. A lot of lawyers do not take the time to actually look at the unique facts of a case. I do. A lot of lawyers are afraid to try a case. I’m not. Many lawyers won’t file motions. I will. If they do file motions, far too many of them are shockingly bad writers. I’m not. Some lawyers don’t really care about their work or their clients. There is little in this world I value more. I bring blue-collar effort to produce blue-ribbon results.
I clear my schedule the best I can and I work. I analyze. I reanalyze. I create diagrams and visual aids. I think about how I can get the jury on my team. I try to be vigilant about my case’s weaknesses while also working up the case’s strengths. I try to make it so I’m not just defending, but I’m controlling the narrative.
I am to be there on the front line battling it out with my client. I am the face and voice of the case. My job is to strategize and lead.
Ultimately, I think it comes down to the intellectual rigor I bring to a case. It is important because while some cases are cut and dry, many are not. And I think too many attorneys default to the mindset that the case in front of them now is just like the last one. I come to my cases with the mindset that my client is innocent and telling me the truth, which allows me to look at the facts and the law more freely and creatively. It allows me to make First Amendment arguments in bomb-threat cases, Second Amendment arguments in concealed-carry cases where the person is under the influence on her own property; and Fourth Amendment arguments in cases where a city-owned hospital collected urine without consent or reasonable suspicion. It doesn’t mean I win those arguments. But the mere fact that I make them puts my clients in a better position to get a better plea deal or win at trial.
Changing the law and changing lives. I haven’t gotten to change the law as much as I’d like, but I’ve certainly been able to change some lives – from helping people get clean to guiding them through the worst time of their lives to showing them they have someone to count on.
In the words of Cormac McCarthy: “[Y]ou never know what worse luck your bad luck saved you from.” First, McCarthy’s prose is poetry; he can say so much with so little. Second, it’s good advice. I use this most often in OWI cases where the client could have hurt or killed someone or himself. Or maybe a drug user was arrested early on in her substance abuse before it ruined her whole life. Going through the criminal justice system is never pleasant but it can also be a catalyst for some positive life changes.
Read My New Book: "Surviving a Criminal Case in Michigan (And Picking Up the Pieces Afterward)"
Maybe it’s the flashing lights in your rearview. Maybe it’s a knock at your door. Heck, maybe it’s a battering ram at your door. However your first interaction with the criminal-justice system happens, it’s likely that this encounter is just the start of a long, stressful journey. So I wrote this book for you. This is a user’s manual for getting through a criminal case in the State of Michigan. I’m a lawyer, but I’m not writing for lawyers. I’m writing for regular folks who are likely going through the worst time of their entire lives. Though I wish otherwise, this book isn’t going to save your skin or protect your liberty. Instead, it’s meant as a companion to help you understand what it is you’re up against, what you can expect at different stages of your case, and some ways to either beat a case or to mitigate the damages. While not meant to stand in as a substitute for actual legal advice, I want you to at least get an idea of what your case could end up looking like.