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Michigan Felony Court Process
Generally, the court process starts when you are charged with a crime. This occurs either after you are arrested or after a warrant is filed by the prosecutor’s office. In order to have a warrant filed, there must be probable cause.
Arraignment is a very quick procedure. If you are currently in custody this usually happens within a day or two. If you have an open warrant, this will occur when you turn yourself in. During arraignment the judge will read the formal charges against you, allow you to enter a plea (of not guilty) and address issues of bond.
If you are not in custody, some courts allow attorneys to complete the arraignment process through the mail.
This next phase is usually when your attorney receives discovery for the first time. It is also when the attorney and prosecutor determine whether or not they wish to hold or waive a preliminary examination.
The technical and actual reasons to hold a Preliminary Examination are quite different. Technically, a Preliminary Examination can be held to determine whether or not probable cause exists that a crime has been committed in the jurisdiction that the defendant is currently in. While this is the technical reason, a judge will almost always find that probable cause exists.
The real reason that preliminary examinations are held are to secure testimony from witnesses that may be unavailable at trial, to obtain statements that can be impeached at trial or as a tool for the defense attorney to learn more about the case. In most cases the preliminary examination is waived.
Arraignment on the Information
Once the preliminary examination is waived or probable cause is found by the judge, the case is sent to Circuit Court in the same county as the district court. Usually between a few days
and a week the Circuit Court will hold another Arraignment. Usually here the court will continue bond and simply set a date for a pretrial. Some courts allow you to skip this step by filing through the mail.
This is where you discuss with the prosecutor possible plea arrangements and other discovery issues.
If you cannot work out a plea agreement with the prosecutor the case will go to trial.
The criminal felony court process can seem daunting and confusing. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 877-I-CAN-WIN. Our consultations are always free.
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Your attorney will only handle criminal cases. This means we have probably handled your type of case several times before.