Felonies & Misdemeanors | Misdemeanors | Felonies
OVERVIEW OF THE MICHIGAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Police investigate crimes until they have enough evidence to charge a person with a crime, which is either a misdemeanor or a felony. This investigation can be completed in a matter of minutes, or it can last for several months or years, depending upon the case. Once the police feel that they have enough evidence, they submit the case to the local prosecutor. The prosecutor evaluates the evidence and decides what charges, if any, to file. When the prosecutor authorizes a complaint and warrant, the police officer appears in court to file the complaint and asks the court to sign a warrant. This warrant starts the case and allows the police to arrest the suspect and bring this suspect to court. It is important to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as you know that you are under suspicion for a crime. In many cases, a good attorney can see to it that charges are never filed against you. Before talking to the police or taking a police polygraph examination, contact Mitch Foster Law to discuss your legal rights.
Once a person is brought to court, he or she is arraigned. At an arraignment, the person is notified of the charges against him or her and a bond is set by the judge or magistrate. The bond can be a personal recognizance bond or a cash bond. Depending upon the nature and the amount of the bond, the person may be able to be released from jail directly from the court after arraignment, or later that day. There are usually terms or restrictions that are given for the person to comply with the bond, once they are released.
For felony cases, after arraignment, the next step is the preliminary examination. This is a preliminary hearing, where a judge decides whether or not there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. This is a very important step in the legal process and should not be waived unless there is a specific strategic reason for waiving this exam. A person has a right to have a preliminary examination held within 14 days of the date of their arraignment.
In misdemeanor and felony cases, there is a pretrial conference held before trial. The pretrial conference is where the defendant and his or her attorney tell the court what they want to do. The person can decide to plead guilty or go to trial. This is a very important step in the process as well. The consequences of a guilty plea usually affect the person for the rest of their life. All possible defenses should be discussed with an experienced criminal defense attorney, before making this important step. It is always important to get a second opinion from an experienced criminal defense attorney, if a person is unsure whether or not to plead guilty. At the pretrial conference, the judge will accept a guilty plea, or the judge will set the case for trial date.
The next step after a pretrial conference in both misdemeanor and felony cases is trial. The right to a trial by jury is one of our most important rights. The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Michigan Constitution, both guarantee this important right. In Michigan, a jury of 12 is chosen for felony cases, and a jury of 6 is chosen for misdemeanor cases. The jury, not the judge, decides guilt or innocence and this decision must be unanimous. If a verdict of not guilty is reached, the defendant has no criminal record, is released from incarceration, and cannot be tried for the same charges again. If a guilty verdict is reached, the matter is set for sentencing.
The next step in the criminal process is sentencing. A person can be sentenced to a simple fine, a period of probation, or to a period of incarceration. Sentencing usually is a critical step in the criminal defense process. Often, judges are on the fence as to whether or not to send a person to a local county jail sentence, or to a lengthier prison sentence. Judges sometimes are not sure whether or not to sentence a person to a few weeks or months in jail, or to suspend the sentence and put the person directly on probation. Having the right attorney can and often does make the difference between jail or prison, or between probation and jail. A defendant facing a prison sentence should have an attorney that is familiar with the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. The scoring of these guidelines is critical. A mistake in the guidelines could result in a sentence that is several years longer than it should be. An experienced criminal defense attorney will carefully review the sentencing guidelines and raise the appropriate objections and legal arguments that need to be made.
The next step is the appeal process. There are many ways to successfully appeal a conviction and sentence. Some cases do not call for an appeal. A person that was not sentenced to any jail time often will not want to appeal his or her sentence. Often, a person serving a jail or prison sentence does not know that they can appeal their sentence, especially if that person pleaded guilty. In almost every case, an appeal can be made, and in many cases, a positive result can be obtained. Contact Mitch Foster Law to discuss appealing you or your loved one's conviction and/or sentence.
FELONIES AND MISDEMEANORS
In Michigan, crimes are either felonies or misdemeanors. Misdemeanor crimes are usually punishable by up to one year in jail, and felonies are crimes with maximum punishments of over one year in jail and up to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
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Every crime is serious to the person facing a criminal charge. Being charged with a misdemeanor should not be taken lightly. A misdemeanor conviction means that you have a criminal record. Often a misdemeanor conviction can result in several months in jail and being placed on probation. Some common misdemeanors include:
Assault and Battery
Operating While Intoxicated (Drunk Driving)
Retail Fraud (Shoplifting)
Driving While License Suspended
A misdemeanor can turn into a felony with prior convictions on one's criminal record. For example, this can happen with repeat domestic violence, retail fraud, or drunk driving convictions.
A person with a single drunk driving conviction faces many challenges, including the possibility of losing a job, losing a driver license, and being denied entry into Canada. An experienced criminal defense trial lawyer can win a case for you at or before trial so that you can avoid all of the problems and inconveniences that often come with a criminal conviction.
Mitch Foster Law is an experienced criminal defense law firm with a track record of success in handling misdemeanor cases in courts in southeastern Michigan and beyond. When your liberty is at stake, call us to be in your corner.
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Felonies can be punishable by as little as a fine with no probation to maximum life in prison, depending upon the charge.
Felonies can have a devastating effect on a person's life. A person facing a felony should hire the best attorney they can afford. When your liberty is at stake, contact Mitch Foster Law to discuss your legal rights and defenses.
Some common felonies include:
- Possession of Controlled Substance
- Delivery of Drugs
- Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm
- Assualt with Intent to Murder
- Drunk Driving causing death or serious injury
- Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Breaking and Entering
- Home Invasion
- Uttering and Publishing
- Domestic Violence - Third Offense
- Drunk Driving - Third Offense
- Retail Fraud - First Degree
Think long and hard before pleading guilty to any felony. There can be serious consequences of a felony conviction, and once a guilty plea is entered it is very difficult to take it back. If your lawyer is pressuring you to plead guilty, you need a second opinion.
The right to a trial by jury is your constitutional right and Mitch Foster Law wants to make sure that you know all of your options before waiving this important right. The first option that must be considered is going to trial and winning. This should be considered before thinking about any other option. Call Mitch today to talk about winning your case.
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