Michigan residents accused of felony criminal offenses can find themselves both confused and frightened by the process. This fact is more pronounced for individuals involved with the criminal justice system for the first time. Every criminal case is different, but defendants who gain a basic overview of the felony court process may be able to relieve some of the stress and confusion they experience.
Arrests and charges
Once police officers possess enough evidence to believe a person is guilty of a felony offense, an arrest is likely to occur. This arrest can happen immediately at the spot of the offense if a police officer sees the crime committed or has probable cause to believe the person committed a crime.
An arrest does not constitute formal criminal charges. A prosecutor will become responsible for preparing the documents if he or she feels there is enough evidence of guilt to support a conviction.
Lead-up to a trial
The first court date for a criminal defendant in Michigan is an appearance before the District Arraignment Court. A court representative will read the charges against a defendant aloud. The defendant will then enter either a not guilty, guilty or no contest plea. Defendants will also learn the amount of their bail if it is available.
A lot of what goes into the felony court process happens during pretrial proceedings. One goal is to resolve the matter without the need for a trial. The prosecutor and criminal defense team may also become involved in activities to make decisions about important matters, like evidence validity and admissibility.
Criminal cases that remain unresolved after the pretrial phase require a trial. The prosecutor will present all the evidence against the defendant and seek to convince a judge or jury of guilt. The defense team will have the opportunity to rebut the evidence against their client.
A judge or jury will render a verdict of not guilty or guilty once the prosecution and defense finish making their arguments. A guilty verdict from a jury requires the agreement of every member. The failure of jury members to unanimously agree on a defendant’s guilt can make a new trial necessary.
Individuals who become involved in the felony court process have a lot at stake. Defendants may be able to obtain a favorable outcome by speaking with a criminal offense attorney.