Overview of the Judicial Process in Criminal Cases


Michigan Criminal Defense Appeals Lawyer

Overview of the Judicial Process in Criminal Cases

Arrest

  • You are arrested for a crime and taken into custody:
    • If you resist arrest you may increase the charges against you.
    • You will have to give personal identification proving who you area, if you lie, or your identity cannot be determined you will be photographed, fingerprinted, and held in custody.
    • You can be searched and all personal items will be taken from you (subject to being returned at a later time).
    • Any illegal item or suspected contraband found on your person will be collected as evidence.
    • If the arrest was for a misdemeanor or felony you will be photographed and fingerprinted.
    • You will be asked to be interviewed, but you may refuse, you do not have to answer questions and can ask to speak to an attorney.
    • If there any outstanding warrants for your arrest, you will likely be held in custody.
    • You may be held in custody until arraignment if deemed a flight risk or were arrested on serious charges. You may be sent home with a summons to appear if the charges are minor.
    • If charges are later dropped, you can petition to have the arrest and related records expunged.

Arraignment

  • If the person arrested is charged with a crime, they are arraigned and referred to as the "defendant" for all legal purposes. At the arraignment:
    • The criminal charges against the defendant are explained;
    • The possible penalties are explained;
    • The defendant is officially given his or her Constitutional Rights and must sign to indicate they read and understood them;
    • A defendant is asked how they plead (Not Guilty, Stands Mute or Guilty);
    • Bond and bond conditions are set;
    • If there any outstanding arrest warrants the defendant will likely be held in custody even after arraignment;
    • A court date is given or the defendant is advised that notice will be mailed to them and that they must appear in court on that date.

Trial

  • If the case goes to trial:
    • Typically, the defendant hires a criminal defense lawyer, or a court appoints one if the defendant is indigent;
    • The prosecutor prepares a case against the defendant;
    • Both sides present their facts, evidence, and case and both sides are given final closing;
    • The jury reaches a verdict.
    • If the verdict is "guilty" sentencing is imposed by the judge (in rare cases, a jury may be involved in sentencing).
    • The court's probation officer prepares a report for the court that applies sentencing guidelines, but ultimately, it is the judge who decides a sentence.
    • The defendant may be released while waiting for sentencing, or held in custody.
    • If the defendant is found "not guilty" they are released, entitled to expunge their record and the state may not appeal the verdict or retry the defendant for the same charge for the same crime.

Post-Conviction Rights

There are many post-conviction (after a defendant is convicted of a crime) options available to a defendant. Some of the legal remedies depend on how the defendant pleads. For example, a defendant who pleads guilty may waive the right to an appeal. Still, this does not mean there are no possible avenues to explore after a conviction.

A sentence may include time in prison, a fine to be paid to the government, and restitution to be paid to crime victim(s). The court's probation officers assist the court in enforcing any conditions that are imposed as part of a criminal sentence. The supervision of offenders also may involve services such as substance abuse testing and treatment programs, job counseling, and alternative detention options.(3)

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