Facing a felony charge is an overwhelming experience. It is especially overwhelming if you have no familiarity with the legal process. Today is first to a two part series where we are breaking the court process down step by step, so that you can know what you are up against. If you are charged with a felony, that means you are being accused of one or more serious crime
Step 1: The Complaint is Filed
The process starts with the prosecuting attorney filing a complaint against the accused. If the accused or the defendant has not already been arrested, a warrant for arrest will go out at this time. A felony case will start in the district court, but it will end up being transferred to the circuit court.
Step 2. Being Arrested.
At this point, if you have been accused of breaking a criminal law, you will be arrested. Upon arrest, you will be taken to the district court for arrangement. The police will hold you until the arrangement takes place and/or the bond is set. The police will also know when and where your arrangement is.
Step 3. The Arraignment
The arraignment is held in front of a magistrate or a district court judge, who will explain what your constitutional rights are, what you are being charged with, and the possible consequences if you are convicted of the crime. During this time, the court will determine the possibility of being released on bond and if so, will set the bail amount. Lastly, the date for the preliminary examination will be set, which will be within 14 days of the arrangement. Interestingly, you do not enter a plea here as that will come later.
Step 4. A Note About Bail and Bonds
What it means to post a bond and to be out on bail, is that the defendant has made a promise to appear in court and not engage in any activity that the magistrate or judge orders. According to Michigan Courts there are four types of bonds,
- Personal Recognizance Bond: This is when the defendant is released without having to pay any money after making a promise to return to the court.
- A Cash Bond: The money has been set and must be paid in full before the defendant is released from jail.
- A Ten Percent Bond: The court has agreed to accept ten percent of the full bond amount guaranteeing the defendant will return to court.
- Surety bond: This is a guarantee made to a bondsman that the defendant will return to court. The bondsman must be approved and prove that the bondsman has enough money to pay the full bond amount.
It is quite the process, is it not? Make sure to come back Monday when we will be finish explaining the process of being charged with a felony.