The Criminal Procedure in Michigan
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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
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.