Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you need an experienced defense attorney by your side. The Michigan criminal defense team at Fausone Bohn, LLP defends clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges in both state and federal courts. We regularly defend clients charged with:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Whether you have been charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Operating While Visibly Intoxicated (OWVI) by alcohol or controlled substances; in Michigan, these charges come with serious consequences. You could end up with jail time, hefty fines, license revocation, and more.
- Domestic violence, aggravated assault & battery. A person charged with a violent crime committed against former or current spouses or domestic partners faces jail time and fines; repeat offenders can be charged with a felony and sent to prison.
- Controlled Substance Offenses. Whether you have been arrested for a minor misdemeanor for possession or for the federal crime of manufacturing methamphetamine or drug trafficking, all drug convictions in Michigan carry serious repercussions from loss of reputation to loss of freedom.
- Marijuana Offenses (Medical, Recreational, and Minor). As of 2019, Michigan has legalized the use of recreational cannabis. This new legislation still carries strict requirements regarding possession amounts for the different classifications of cannabis. However, if you are a caregiver or patient who has been accused of violating the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) you could still face felony charges.
- Traffic Violations. While charges like a moving violation causing death or reckless driving with personal injury can carry long prison sentences, even simple traffic violations such as speeding can have serious repercussions. Paying a traffic ticket is a responsibility that could carry repercussions, including adding points to a driver’s license that could result in license suspension or revocation.
Michigan Juvenile Defense
If your minor child has been charged with a crime – known as a delinquency action when the offender is less than 17 years old – you need a Michigan criminal defense attorney who is experienced in juvenile justice matters. Most criminal defense lawyers in the state do not regularly defend juveniles. Juvenile defense cases follow different rules of procedure and require a different skill set than what is used when defending adults.
The consequences for a minor who becomes embroiled in the legal system can be far-reaching. Not only are their cases open to potential public scrutiny – all that needs to happen is a social media post publicizing their arrest – but carrying a criminal conviction, even as a juvenile, can keep your child from job opportunities, getting into a college, or being eligible for financial aid. If your child is accused of a serious felony and is over 14 years of age, they could even be charged as an adult. It is of paramount importance that you seek out a Michigan defense attorney who has experience defending minors.
Understand the Criminal Defense Process
Michigan’s criminal court processes tend to be confusing for defendants, victims, and witnesses. Everyone involved in a criminal procedure deserves to know and understand every stage their case will go through. Review this guide to learn how criminal court proceedings normally work with felony and misdemeanor court cases:
Plead Guilty or Not Guilty, and bond conditions are set. At this point, you should have a lawyer to advise you on the best decision to make given the circumstances of your case.
- Pre-Trial Conference
If plead not guilty, Pre-Trial is the next step. This is an opportunity for your attorney to discuss the case with the prosecutor in private to review evidence. This is your attorney’s chance to convince prosecutors to dismiss or reduce the charges.
- Plea Bargain
Your attorney works a plea deal based on their experience. A plea date is set, you will go in front of the judge and admit the offense. Later appearing in court to waive your constitutional rights based on the agreement.
- Jury Trial
Prosecutors will use this time to present evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants are not required to prove their innocence or to present any evidence but may challenge the accuracy of the prosecutor’s evidence.
- Pre-Sentence Report
Once pleading to the agreed charge, or having been found guilty at trial, you are sent to probation for a pre-sentence report. You will meet with a probation officer, where they will ask questions about your past, employment history, and family. This report will summarize the crime allegedly committed, as well as the defendant’s personal and criminal backgrounds.
Judges will normally follow the recommendation of the pre-sentence investigator. They do not have to follow that recommendation though. Possible sentences can include fines and costs, probation, jail time, community service and/or counseling, victim impact panel and restitution.
In District Court felony arraignments, you have the chance to plead guilty or not guilty. The arraigning judge will set bond conditions and may also consider a defendant’s request for a court-appointed attorney.
- Pre-Exam Conference
Just like a misdemeanor proceeding, a felony Pre-Exam Conference is a meeting between the prosecutor and defendant’s attorney to discuss the case. This is also a chance for both parties to determine whether a resolution can be reached without subpoenaing witnesses for the Preliminary Examination.
- Preliminary Examination
Sometimes called a “probable cause hearing”, held within 14 days after arraignment. Prosecutors will present select-witnesses and evidence to prove defendant had probable cause; if proven, the case is sent to the Circuit Court for trial. If unable to prove probable cause, the Judge can bind the case over on different charges, reduce charges to misdemeanors for trial in District Court, or dismiss charges.
- Circuit Court Arraignment
Defendant will be arraigned again – formal notice of charges against you – you will again be advised of your constitutional rights and enter a plea to the charge(s).
- Pre-Trial Conference and Proceedings
Pre-Trial Conference – Circuit Court may schedule a meeting between assistant prosecuting attorney and defendant’s attorney to determine whether your case will go to trial or resolve with a plea.
Pre-Trial Proceedings – Judge may need to resolve pre-trial issues that determine whether your case will continue at trial, resolve with a plea, or be dismissed.
- Trial (Bench or Jury)
Defendants and prosecutors both have the right to a trial by jury in Michigan. Sometimes both sides will agree to let a Judge listen to evidence without a jury, called a “bench trial”. In both cases, after evidence is presented, the Judge or jury will determine if the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant committed the crime.
- Pre-Sentence Investigation & Report
The court’s probation department will prepare this report for the Judge, summarizing the alleged crime, and the defendant’s personal and criminal background. Generally, the victim is contacted for a recommendation of sentence. Probation officer will conclude the report with their recommended sentencing.
Judge considers information provided in the Pre-Sentence Report, additional evidence offered by either party, comments by the victim, or any other relevant information. The Circuit Court judge will consult the “sentencing guidelines” which are used to evaluate elements of the defendant’s criminal conduct and prior record to determine the minimum jail/prison sentence. But the judge may consider alternative resolutions.