The criminal arraignment in Michigan is your first court date. In all criminal cases you have an absolute right to an arraignment. This is an “absolute right” because it is protected by the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment. This Amendment reads in part “in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.”
Will I Learn What Criminal Charges I Face at My First Court Date?
The “nature and cause of the accusation” is set forth in a document called a complaint. The complaint sets forth the criminal charges. If you were given a ticket, such as in an OWI arrest, a complaint will be issued by the prosecutor before you are arraigned.
The warrant is the document that compels your attendance in court. This is not necessarily an arrest warrant. If you learn that a warrant was issued against you, then please don’t expect that the police will knock on your door in the middle of the night to arrest you. But we highly recommend you don’t go to court alone and sit at the defense table by yourself, with the prosecuotor sitting with an assistant proswecutor. You owe yourself a free consultation with the Barone Defense Firm where a criminal defense lawyer can trll you what to expect – even if you don’t hire us.
What Is the Court Process During My Arraignment?
You and your criminal defense lawyer will appear in court together for the arraignment hearing. This hearing can take place before a judge or magistrate, and in some courts, can be waived by filing a “paper arraignment.” If you have a “live” hearing, then the judge or magistrate will read verbatim the text on the complaint. This will include the specific crime(s) alleged, the statutory reference, and the possible conviction penalties.
After the charges have been read, the court will address your bond. There are two parts to the bond. Part one is the money, if any, the court orders you to deposit to assure that you appear in the future. If you receive a bond, then inevitably the court will order conditions on your bond.
The court will not set any bond in the most serious crimes, such as murder and some sex crimes. In these cases you must remain or be placed in jail while your case is pending.
If you are being arraigned on a complaint or information, then you are entitled to receive a copy of the charging document. Sometimes, even if you were given an OWI ticket at the roadside, the prosecutor will later prepare a complaint and warrant. In these cases, your arraignment will be on the warrant as well. Be sure to speak with your attorney before the hearing to learn what kind of arraignment you are facing.
How Our Best Attorney Will Assist You at the Arraignment
Except in unusual circumstances, or when the charges involve allegations of serious felony crimes, your lawyer can contact the court and schedule an arraignment at a time that is convenient for you. This is why it’s important to hire a lawyer as soon as you learn that criminal charges are pending. Also, your attorney will advocate for the lowest cash amount and for the least restrictive and draconian bond conditions.
Once the charges have been read to you by the court, you will be asked to enter a plea. Usually, your attorney will do this for you and will indicate to the court either that you plead not guilty or stand mute. If you stand mute, then the court will enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf.
In most instances, your attorney will say “your Honor, we waive the formal reading, and the defendant stands mute.” By “standing mute” you do acknowledge that the court has jurisdiction over you. Waiving the reading means the court is relieved of its obligation to read the charges to you out loud. The court assumes you’ve been advised of the charges by your lawyer.
Many people believe that you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty at the arraignment. This is not true. With very few exceptions, the court will not accept a plea of guilty or no contest at the initial arraignment on the complaint.
Will Bond Be Set and Can I Be Taken Back to Jail?
After the charges have been read to you, the next step is for the court to set a bond. There are two parts to a bond (1) a dollar amount, and (2) conditions of bond. In most Michigan DUI cases, conditions involve the non-use of alcohol and drugs, and a monitoring schedule to assure your compliance with this condition.
You should meet with your criminal lawyer prior to the arraignment so that they can learn all of the important information about you and your case. There are many other things that can be done to help you prepare for the arraignment as well.
The criminal defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm will thoroughly prepare for the arraignment to assure that you receive the lowest cash bond and the most favorable conditions possible.
Most arraignments are perfunctory and quick, and you should expect to be in court for only a short time. Your attorney can tell you more about what to expect in the particular court where your case is pending.
You will leave this arraignment with a better understanding of the charges you face, the judge to whom your case is assigned and will be provided with a document that sets forth your bond conditions. You will also have a date to return to the court for your first pre trial. In felony cases the next court date will be a pre-exam conference.
If your case has been scheduled for an arraignment, but you’ve not yet retained a lawyer to assist you, then we highly recommend that you not appear in court without a lawyer because you may be sent to jail again. Contact one of the criminal defense attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm and schedule your free, no obligation case review. Our 24-hour number is (208) 306-9158.