If you have been charged with a crime, there are a number of steps in the criminal legal system that you need to understand. Having an overview of criminal defense in Michigan can help you understand your rights and might be the determining factor in the severity of your final sentence.
After you are charged with a crime you will be brought before a judge for an arraignment. In this first appearance, the judge will review the charges with you and inform you of the penalties these charges carry. During this initial proceeding you will be asked how you plead. You may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, no contest or you may opt to stand mute. If you stand mute, the judge will enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf. At this stage it is often advisable to enter a plea of not guilty which will allow you time to talk with your attorney and weigh your options. An overview of criminal defense in Michigan will help you to make the right choice when deciding your plea.
At the time of arraignment a trial date will also be set. This may be a trial by jury or you and your attorney may decide on a bench trial to avoid the lengthy jury trial process, and accept the decision of the judge. Sometimes your best option may be a plea bargain. A plea bargain involves pleading guilty to the charges against you and in exchange the prosecution will allow you to plead to a lesser charge or consider dropping some of the charges against you.
If you are found guilty and sentenced, and feel the verdict is unjust you have the right to appeal. An appeal is not a retrial but a re-examination of all the records involved the trial proceeding to ensure that you have received a fair trial. It's important to have an understanding and an overview of criminal defense in Michigan because you will need to enter an appeal within a specific amount of time after your conviction. There are a lot of reasons to file an appeal from the smallest legal error, to the judge's failure to instruct the jury of important facts they need to determine your case or even misconduct by a member of the jury. A successful appeal could lead to a new trial.
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