Arraignments in Michigan Criminal Cases

The Sixth Amendment to U.S. Constitution guarantees that defendants shall “be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against them.” The criminal arraignment is where this Amendment is enforced. A criminal defense attorney can advocate many things on behalf of a person at a Michigan criminal arraignment including: reducing high bonds, limiting bond conditions and strategic scheduling of subsequent court dates

Arraignment is the first stage of a criminal proceeding where the defendant is officially called before a court and informed of the charges in the complaint or other charging document. A defendant may be brought in court for arraignment after being arrested or notified of a pending charge or warrant. At arraignment, the Judge or Magistrate will ask the defendant to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or stand mute. In Michigan, the Judge or Magistrate will determine whether the accused will be required to be released only upon payment of bond or allow release of the defendant on his or her own recognizance. A personal recognizance bond does not require the payment of any money unless the defendant fails to appear at his or her court hearings.

A criminal defense attorney plays a vital role at arraignment. For example, we are familiar with the district and circuit courts in Macomb County, Oakland County and Wayne County. We are often able to persuade a Judge or Magistrate to set a lower bond or relax certain bond conditions. For example, if someone is charged with a drunk driving offense (OWI), we may be able to convince the arraigning Judge that our client does not need to be randomly tested as a condition of bond. In cases involving stalking or flight risk, the court may be inclined to impose extreme monitoring which would require a person to submit to Global Positioning Monitor. A criminal defense lawyer at an arraignment in these situations may be able to save his client from these conditions which limits valuable freedom and mobility.

It is at the arraignment where the court will advise a defendant of his right to counsel and allow the defendant to request a court appointed attorney if he or she cannot afford to hire an attorney. Michigan courts have an application for court appointed counsel which includes financial information and resources of the defendant.

Lastly, if the defendant is charged with a felony, the court will schedule the defendant’s preliminary examination at the arraignment. In Michigan, a preliminary examination must be scheduled within 14 calendar days following the arraignment (felony cases only). There is no right to a preliminary examination for misdemeanors.

In Michigan, the court may allow a person to waive arraignment for a misdemeanor charge. After arraignment or waiver of the same, the court will schedule a pretrial conference.