The first adversarial hearing before the district court is called the preliminary examination. At this time the defendant should be represented by a Michigan criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor is required to present sufficient evidence to show a crime was committed and there is probable cause to believe it was committed by the defendant.
The defense will be allowed to cross examine the prosecution’s witnesses and to call their own witnesses and submit evidence on behalf of the defendant. After submission of all evidence, the magistrate may do one of three things. He may find that a crime has been committed and that there is sufficient cause to believe the defendant committed the crime. The case would then be sent to the circuit level for circuit court arraignment. Second, the magistrate may dismiss the charges if there is insufficient evidence that a crime was committed and/or the insufficient evidence that it was committed by the defendant. Lastly, if the magistrate determines that the crime as listed in the complaint is not sufficiently proven but rather that a lesser offense was committed by the defendant, then the judge will bind the defendant over for arraignment and trial on the lesser crime.
Circuit Court Arraignment
When a case reaches the circuit court, the charges are read to the defendant and he or she can enter a plea. If the defendant stands mute or pleads not guilty, the case is either put on the trial docket or scheduled for a pretrial. Though defendants rarely plead guilty at this point, if he or she does so, a sentencing date will be scheduled and a pre-sentence investigation report ordered.
If you are facing a preliminary examination or circuit court arraignment on a felony charge in Michigan, call one of the criminal defense attorneys at Miel & Carr to discuss how to defend your case. 616-773-2945.