The Criminal Procedure in Michigan
Speak to Our Bay City Defense Lawyers
If you are facing charges, it is in your best interest to gather as much
information about your situation as possible. Here we have outlined the
criminal process in Michigan to give you an idea about what you may be
going through. If you have any specific questions about your situation, please
reach out to our team today.
An arrest is not a conviction. It simply means that the police have probable
cause to believe that you committed a crime. Probable cause is a subjective
standard, but essentially means that it is more likely than not (more
than 50%) that you did something wrong in the view of the police.
You are probably familiar with Miranda Rights from television shows. Miranda
Rights originated from a United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v.
Arizona, in which the Supreme Court set forth certain rights that the
police must tell a person when they are arrested prior to interrogation
or questioning. These rights are that you have the right to remain silent,
that anything you say can be used against you in court and that you have
the right to an attorney.
A common misconception is that if you are not read your rights, you go
free. In reality, Miranda Rights only serve to protect people from incriminating
themselves after an arrest. In the event you were not read your rights,
yet gave a statement or said things to the police that might incriminate
you during an interrogation, it may be possible to "suppress"
the evidence by motion.
However, it is possible to waive the right to remain silent by either stating
as much, signing a waiver or voluntarily making a statement.
Decision to Charge
The decision as to whether you will be charged with a crime rests with
the Prosecutor, generally an assistant prosecuting attorney who reviews
the case file and determines if there is sufficient reason to file charges.
If you are charged with a crime, bail will most likely be set by the court.
Bail is an amount of money or a pledge of property that is designed to
ensure that you appear in court. Sometimes the court will reduce your
bail at the request of your lawyer. Before spending money on a bondsman,
have your family contact us first. Money you spend with a bondsman will
not be returned.
Arraignment is the first appearance before the court in which you enter
a plea. The court will then set the next date to allow for an exchange
of information between the prosecutor and your lawyer and possible negotiations.
You are entitled to receive all information the prosecuting attorney has
regarding your case, including all information which may benefit you.
The prosecutor may not pick and choose what information to provide.
At your option, you may elect to have a preliminary exam hearing in which
the court hears evidence from the prosecutor and makes a determination
whether there is probable cause to proceed with the case. At this hearing,
only the prosecution's case is heard, and your attorney is allowed
to cross examine their witnesses and scrutinize their evidence.
It is common for the prosecution and defendant to engage in plea bargaining.
Plea bargaining may include a reduction of the charges or some incentive
by the prosecution to resolve the case between the parties. Plea bargaining
can be useful because whether you agree to a resolution is voluntary and
takes the risk out of the process.
The constitution guarantees your right to a jury trial if you so request.
It also guarantees you the right to confront your accuser, to scrutinize
their evidence and cross examine. If you choose this option, your fate
then rests with the jury.
If you plead guilty pursuant to a plea bargain or if you are found guilty
at trial, a judge will sentence you at a hearing. At this hearing you
will be entitled to make a statement to the court, if desired, and possibly
produce evidence and testimony which may convince the court to lessen
the punishment. If you are being sentenced pursuant to a plea bargain,
however, the sentence that the prosecutor recommends (which you would
have agreed to) is generally accepted by the court, so there is no need
to present evidence.
If you are convicted at trial, you are entitled to appeal the decision
by right. The grounds for appeal are limited. In other words, your case
is not re-tried, the appellate court looks for error in the application
of the law, procedural errors at trial or other errors in the process.
If you accept a plea bargain, you waive your right to appeal.
Call (616) 920-6565 now to speak to our team of Bay City criminal defense lawyers.
Do not hesitate to call Gower Law PLC for a
case evaluation at (616) 920-6565