Practice Areas / Criminal Defense / Misdemeanors
Unlike a civil infraction matter, the judge in a misdemeanor case has the power to sentence you to jail time, if convicted.
First Stage of a Misdemeanor Case
A misdemeanor case begins when a police officer issues a Uniform Law Citation, commonly referred to as “a ticket,” alleging that a person, the defendant, has violated Michigan state law or a local ordinance. The maximum penalty that can be imposed by a judge or magistrate for a misdemeanor conviction are 93 days jail, probation, fines, costs and fees. Some of the most common misdemeanor cases include:
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI), 1st or 2nd offense, or High BAC
- Operating While Under the Influence of Drugs (OUID), 1st or 2nd offense
- Operating With the Presence of Drugs (OWPD), 1st or 2nd offense
- Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)
- Reckless Driving
- Domestic Violence and/or Assault and Battery
- Larceny, Retail Fraud and/or Shoplifting
- Disorderly Conduct
The defendant generally has 14 days to appear in court for the first stage of the criminal misdemeanor process, the “arraignment.” The district court judge will inform the defendant of the charges he or she is facing, tell the defendant the possible maximum penalties if convicted, advise the defendant of his or her constitutional right to an attorney and determine whether a bond must be posted. The defendant, may enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty,” or may stand mute. You should almost always plead not guilty or stand mute at an arraignment proceeding. After this, the judge will discuss the issue of bond to secure the defendant’s return to court for the next hearing date, a pretrial.
Final Stages of a Misdemeanor Case
After the arraignment in a misdemeanor case, the next step in the court process is the pretrial. The pretrial is the date and time where the defendant, the defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor meet to discuss the merits of the case and possibly resolving the case. The pretrial will remain at the district court level. Generally, if the prosecutor is going to offer a plea bargain, it will be at the pretrial stage of the case. If the parties do not agree to resolve the case, then the matter will be set for either a bench trial or jury trial at a later date. At trial, the prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Defendant committed the charged crime.
In the event the defendant pleads guilty at the pretrial stage or is found guilty after trial, a separate date and time will be set by the court for sentencing. A defendant often will meet with probation prior to the sentencing date to be interviewed so that a presentence investigation (PSI) can be performed. The sentencing judge will review the PSI prior to sentencing the defendant.