Welcome back. Last week, we discussed the beginning of What You Need to Know When Charged With a Felony in Michigan, in Part 1. We reviewed the process from what to expect when being arrested to what types of bonds are available. Today, we continue discussing the next steps in the court process from the preliminary examination to the trial.
After posting bail when charged with a felony in Michigan, what happens next?
Step 5. The Preliminary Examination
The next step is the Preliminary Examination. During this step, the prosecution does not have to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He only needs to prove that there is enough evidence for probable cause to send the case the trial. The judge may choose to “bind” your case for trial, reduce the charges, or even dismiss the charges completely.
Step 6. The Second Arrangement
If the judge decides that there is enough evidence for probable cause, he will bind your case over for trial. Your case will then be transferred to the circuit court where you will have another arrangement. At the second arraignment, the judge will read you your constitutional rights, what you are being charged with, and the possible consequences if you are convicted of the crime. This time, however, you will be able to enter your plea here at the circuit court.
Step 7. Pre-Trial
Most prosecutors would prefer to have the case resolved before going to trial. To accomplish this, there will be a pre-trial conference or conferences. At this time, the prosecution is hoping for a plea agreement. The next pre-trial steps include hearings, motions and continuances. All of this is in preparation for the trial, and you can expect that there will be no important details left out.
Step 8. The Right to a Jury Trial
You have the right to a jury trial when facing a possibility of more the 6 months in prison. You also have the right to wave the jury trial for a bench trial. A bench trial is when only the judge presides. However, the judge and the prosecution must agree to the waiver.
Step 9. The Trial
There is generally a specific guideline when it comes to the trial no matter what types of charges you face. Some trials may last weeks, while other only hours. Let’s break it down a little further;
- Opening Statements: When the prosecution starts, they will typically introduce the jury to the trial and inform the jury what will be proven or disproven.
- Presenting the Evidence: This is where the prosecution has to prove that you committed the crime you are being charged with “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Witnesses will be brought in and questioned. This part of the trial is usually the longest.
- The Closing Arguments: Here is when the lawyer gives it their best effort to sway the jury to their side. This is also the last opportunity to address the jury and the judge.
- The Judge and the Jury: Next, the judge will educate the jury of their legal responsibilities. After that, the jury will deliberate in private chambers.
- The Verdict: The judge will read the verdict. If found guilty, the judge will either sentence you that day or set another date of sentencing.
There you have it. As I mentioned in part one, the procedures involved in being charged with a felony in Michigan is quite a process. Now you know what to expect. Knowledge is power and now you have the knowledge from the arrest to the verdict.