While the arraignment process is extremely short, usually less than 15 minutes, it is an essential part of the criminal process. In Michigan, during the arraignment, the court will inform the defendant of the charges being brought against them, the defendant will enter their plea, the judge will set bail, and if there are outstanding warrants, the judge may terminate such warrants.
Under Michigan law, the arraignment must occur within a reasonable time after someone is arrested. Generally, the arraignment will occur within 48 hours of the arrest, meaning it is important to immediately contact an attorney if you or someone you know has been arrested.
Reading The Charges At Arraignment
Generally, during the arraignment, the judge will read all the charges brought against the defendant. If the defendant waives their right to read the charges, they will not be read out loud. However, the defendant is always entitled to a copy of the charges brought against them.
Entering A Plea
Additionally, during the arraignment, the defendant will be asked to enter his plea, which means he can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or choose to remain silent. If someone pleads not guilty, it means they are saying that the charges against them are false and they do not intend to enter an agreement. If the defendant has an attorney present, they will go over the different decisions and the implications of each choice. However, if the defendant does not have an attorney, then the judge will go over each plea’s meaning and explain each choice’s implications.
Being arraigned on a charge does not mean that the individual is being found guilty of the crime. Instead, it means that the individual will move forward in the criminal process, and the charges will be presented to a jury to determine the defendant’s guilt.
During the arraignment process, the court will also decide on bail. Once the bail amount is determined, then the court will determine how the bond will be set. This means that if the arraignment does not go well, the defendant may find themselves in jail for a more extended period of time before their trial takes place. To determine if a bond can be set, the court wants to determine if there is a defendant is at risk for not appearing in court and if that defendant is a potential danger to society.
Generally, the court will require the defendant or someone on their behalf to place 10 percent of the full bail amount. For example, if bail is set at $100,000, the defendant must place a bond of $10,000. The judge will consider the following when determining whether bail can be set during the arraignment hearing:
- The charged offense
- The defendant’s criminal history
- Ties to the community or state
- Marital status
- History of court appearances or failure to appear
- Employment status.
When looking at the above items, the court is merely trying to get a picture of whether the defendant will appear in court (aka, are they a flight risk) and whether the defendant is a danger to society.
During the arraignment process, the judge will review if there are any outstanding warrants in Michigan or another state; if there are, the judge will attempt to get them dismissed. The judge will remove the warrants because they do not want the defendant to be arrested on another outstanding warrant while their case is pending, especially if there is a warrant for the charge in which the defendant is currently being tried.
Setting A Court Date
The last thing that will generally occur at an arraignment is that a court date will be set, or the judge will address a schedule in which the court date should be set. The court date is extremely important because if you do not appear in court on your court date after being released on bond, it will be a violation, and if someone used collateral for the bond, such as their home or car, that might be called upon, and someone who was trying to help may lose their possessions because of the missed court date.
How To Prepare For An Arraignment
The first thing that someone should do once arrested before the arraignment, which will generally occur within 48 hours of the arrest, is to call an attorney. Once a criminal defense attorney is obtained, they will do the following:
- Collect Evidence: Depending on the crime that the defendant is being charged with, an attorney will contact eyewitnesses, review all of the evidence, and seek out evidence that may be available such as video recording.
- Address Bond: The attorney will discuss bond options with the prosecution and potentially negotiate a lower bond amount.
- Waive the Arraignment: Depending on the circumstances of the crime and whether the defendant is pleading guilty or not, the attorney may advise their client to waive the arraignment so that they do not need to appear in court and potentially miss work.
Hiring An Attorney For The Arraignment
If you or someone you love has been arrested for a crime, it is vital to contact an attorney. The arraignment process is the first step in criminal prosecution. Having an experienced attorney represent you may make a difference in whether jail time is involved and how much bail is required. To talk to an experienced attorney, contact us at George Law by calling (248) 247-7459 or by filling out an online form, and one of our attorneys will contact you.