WHAT IS AN ARRAIGNMENT?
When charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense, a person’s first appearance is in the District Court for arraignment.
Prior to arraignment, an arraignment attorney from the Michigan Indigent Defense Counsel (MIDC) will meet with the person to conduct an initial interview. During the initial interview, the attorney will review the defendant’s rights, charges, and penalties as well as discuss and obtain information for a court-appointed attorney, pretrial release, and bail arguments; including discussions about criminal history.
At the arraignment, the judge or magistrate will advise a person of the following:
- What criminal charges are being brought against a person.
- What the penalties are for the criminal charge being brought.
- Advise a person of their constitutional rights.
- Notify whether or not a person is eligible to be released on bond, and the amount of the bond
- Advise the person of their right to an attorney. If you have requested an appointment of an attorney, the judge or magistrate will address that with the Michigan Indigent Defense Counsel that is present with you in court.
If arrested for a felony, normally the arraignment follows the day after the arrest. Felony arraignments are held before a judge or magistrate who sets the case for a felony pre-trial within approximately one week and a preliminary examination within 14 calendar days following arraignment. If eligible and able to post bond, a person is released to appear on the next scheduled date. If not eligible for a bond or unable to post the set bond, a person is remanded to the county jail until the scheduled preliminary examination date.
FELONY PROBABLE CAUSE CONFERENCE
For individuals arraigned on felony charges, the probable cause conference is the next step of the legal process. The defendant must appear at the pretrial hearing. An individual has the right to be represented by legal counsel at this hearing. You may hire your own attorney, or if you are indigent, you may petition the court for a court-appointed attorney. Forms are available at the court or you can contact the court if you have questions.
A probable cause conference is scheduled prior to a preliminary examination in a felony matter. It is a hearing between the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, and the prosecutor. This is an opportunity for both parties to discuss the case and possibly resolve the case. If the case can be resolved, the court will take the plea or waiver on the date of the pre-trial. If the case is not resolved, all parties will be required to appear for the preliminary examination.
After a probable cause conference on a felony charge, the next step in the legal process is to appear before the District Court judge for a preliminary examination. The county prosecuting attorney will be in court to present the prosecution’s case. After hearing the evidence presented at the preliminary examination, the judge determines if there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and whether or not there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed that crime.
It is suggested that legal counsel represent you at this hearing. You may hire your own attorney or if you are indigent, you may petition the court for a court-appointed attorney. Forms are available at the court.
If the judge determines that there is probable cause (sufficient evidence) to believe that a crime was committed and that defendant committed that crime, the case is bound over for arraignment/pre-trial on the information in circuit court. (53rd Circuit Court).
For individuals arrested and arraigned for misdemeanor violations, the pretrial hearing is the next step of the legal process. The defendant must appear at the pretrial hearing. An individual has the right to be represented by legal counsel at this hearing, however, it is not mandatory.
A pre-trial hearing is a hearing between the defendant/defendant’s attorney and the prosecuting/city attorney. This hearing is an opportunity for both parties to discuss the case and possibly resolve the case by way of a plea, either to the offense charged or if offered, a reduced offense.
If a misdemeanor case cannot be resolved at a pre-trial hearing, the court may set a final pre-trial date prior to setting it for trial. This is an opportunity for the parties to discuss the case further and decide whether the case will go to trial.
Depending on the pre-trial results, a case can take one of two paths in the judicial process. If it is the defendant’s intent to plead guilty or no contest, a plea will be accepted and the sentencing will follow. If the defendant’s intent is to plead not guilty and have a trial, all parties will have to appear for the scheduled jury selection and trial date, unless the defendant advises the court they wish to waive their right to a jury trial and request a bench trial. A bench trial is heard and decided on before a judge.
WHO DO I CONTACT IF I HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT A CASE?
You can contact the clerk if you have procedural questions. Clerks cannot give legal advice. It is recommended that you talk to an attorney for legal information/advice.
WHERE DO I GO IF I WANT TO POST BOND FOR SOMEONE BEING ARRAIGNED AT THE DISTRICT COURT?
During regular court business hours, bond is accepted at the District Court office. After hours, bond is accepted at the county jail.