Anyone accused of a felony in Michigan should prepare for a lengthy engagement with the state’s complex criminal justice system. This legal process typically starts with an arraignment.
What happens at an arraignment? Here is an explanation to help you prepare.
An arraignment is the first court appearance
The district court arraignment is the first court appearance for anyone charged with a felony here in Michigan. During the arraignment, the court will communicate a few things to the defendant. That includes:
- The charges being filed against them (detailed in a document known as a complaint)
- The maximum penalty, if convicted
- Their constitutional rights, such as the right to an attorney
- Any conditions of bond
Unlike misdemeanor cases, a defendant charged with a felony does not enter a plea during the arraignment. That comes later in the process.
What comes next?
Arraignment is essentially how the courts begin a criminal case against a defendant. After this hearing, you will likely work through a few additional stages before the possibility of a trial. The steps include:
- A pre-examination conference: The parties discuss the case and charges
- A preliminary examination: A judge reviews the evidence to determine whether there is probable cause for the charges filed
- Circuit court arraignment: The case is sent to circuit court, and the defendant goes through another arraignment
- A pre-trial conference and other proceedings: The defendant usually enters a plea, and if needed, parties meet to prepare for the trial
It can take months to complete the stages. Effectively navigating the journey requires in-depth knowledge of the legal process. However, simply knowing what to expect can help you mentally prepare for what is to come.