If you've been charged with a DUI or any type of crime anywhere in Macomb County or any other county, the first step in the criminal process is something called an "Arraignment." An arraignment serves only two purposes:
- To inform the person charged exactly what they are being charged with and the maximum possibility penalty associated with the alleged offense and,
- To have a bond hearing and to see what bail money, if any, the Judge imposes while the case is pending.
We will go into the factors of a bond hearing in a future post, and why you might get a personal bond or why there might be a cash bond. But one thing is certain: Having an attorney significantly helps secure a fair and reasonable bond, which all defendants are entitled to.
In cases like a DUI, a person is arrested on the spot and transported to the local police station. At that time there is usually a "provisional bond" to get out of jail, usually the next day if a person can afford it. But that bond amount is not set in stone until the first court appearance before a Judge, which is the arraignment. If you're charged with a DUI and somebody bails you out, you will eventually have to return to court to face a judge. In nearly all District Courts around the state, there must an arraignment on a DUI and OWI and drinking and driving charge.
For other misdemeanor offenses, if a client is wise enough to retain an attorney before the arraignment, the attorney can sometimes "waive" the arraignment and save the client an extra court date, and just set the mater for a pre-trial.
However, if you've been charged with a felony of any kind, (including any kind of drug offense, felonious assault, felony embezzlement, federal crimes, murder or homicide, etc) there also must be an arraignment.
In Michigan, defendants are currently not entitled to have an attorney present at arraignment. In fact, most don't. At Barnwell Law, it can't be stressed enough how important it is to have a retained and hired attorney before an arraignment if possible. With a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer at your side, it frequently means a far lower bond than you'd normally have to post. It also means you won't get stuck with a court-appointed lawyer who you did not choose, but the Court chose for you. There are no downsides to hiring an attorney before your arraignment. There are only positives.
If a person has already had their arraignment and has a court-appointed attorney, you can still hire an attorney of your choice, and the Courts will almost always allow the substitution. However, the sooner you hire somebody the better.
During an arraignment, a person may be arraigned at the jail via a video screen while the attorney is in the courtroom, or occasionally at the jail. If the judge grants a personal bond, you can be released without paying any money.
If the matter is a felony, all arraignments begin in the District Court that has jurisdiction of where the offense was alleged to have occurred. For instance, if the offense is alleged to have occurred in Warren, MI, the arraignment will be held at the 37th District Court in Warren or Center-Line Michigan. Unless the case is dismissed in District Court at a later hearing, the case will eventually work its way up to Macomb County Circuit Court, which is the 16th Circuit Court in Mount Clemens. Or, to use another example, if you have been charged for a felony offense in Port Huron, the case will be arraigned in the 72nd District Court before eventually making it up to the 31st Circuit Court of St. Clair County, also located in Port Huron.
So, in sum:
- Every case begins with an arraignment.
- You are not entitled to have an attorney with you at your arraignment. If you don't hire somebody first, you will be alone, and if you can't afford an attorney the Court will appoint somebody for you whom you probably don't know.
- In felony cases in Macomb County and all other counties, the arraignment will happen at the District Court and eventually will work its way up to Macomb County Circuit Court, Oakland County Circuit Court, Wayne County Circuit Court, or whichever Circuit Court has jurisdiction depending on where the alleged offense took place.
- Having an attorney at your arraignment helps a case from the outset dramatically, including helping secure a personal bond or lower cash bond than a defendant would likely otherwise have.
- By all means, if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or you suspect will be charged with a crime, don't wait, hire an attorney NOW, not later.
Attorney William (Bill) Barnwell of Barnwell Law PLLC can be reached anytime directly at (810) 394-2952. It's not uncommon for Bill to get a call in the middle of the night and get hired on a case to appear for an arraignment the next morning or afternoon. Whether it's day or night, and in Warren, Macomb County, Oakland County, Wayne County, St. Clair County, or any other county in the state of Michigan, Bill is here to help.
Barnwell Law has been able to help secure individuals personal bonds (which means you need no money up front to stay out of jail) for even serious felonies. When a personal bond is not possible, Barnwell Law can still help heavily reduce the bond and bail amount needed as opposed the person who has nobody at their side at their arraignment. This is why hiring an attorney earlier rather than later is so important.
Don't go it alone. Barnwell Law is here to help.