The criminal justice system is like a maze. There are many complicated steps. It can be hard to decipher the road ahead if you’ve been charged. Without an experienced criminal defense attorney, it’s easy to feel lost, overwhelmed, and confused. We’re here to help you make sense of everything There are many different appearances and hearings that occur during the criminal procedure in Marquette. We hope to help you navigate this complex roadmap.
District Court Arraignment
This is your first appearance before a judge. The judge will inform you of the charges filed against you, the possible penalties if convicted, and inform you of your constitutional rights.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may enter a plea at this time.
Felony charges don’t allow for pleas to be entered at this time.
Arraignment is also where the judge sets bail. This ensures that you’ll return for future court proceedings.
Pretrial Or Pre-Exam Conference
This hearing is between the defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor. At this time, the two sides determine if the case will go to trial or if a plea will be entered.
Felony Probable Cause Hearing (Preliminary Examination)
The probable cause hearing occurs within 14 days of your district court arraignment. This hearing does not happen for misdemeanor offenses.
This hearing determines if there is enough evidence to suspect you committed a felony. If the court decided there is enough evidence, you will be sent to the circuit court for arraignment. There, your charges will be read again, and you may enter a plea.
If a plea was not entered at arraignment, your case will go to trial.
The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. The defendant does not need to prove their innocence or prevent evidence. The defendant merely needs to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and “poke holes” in their case.
This is where it pays to have good legal counsel. The trial is where the attorney enters the arena and tries to win your case. If successful, you will be free.
Trials can last between a few hours and a few weeks. Trials typically follow a set path:
- Opening Statements: The prosecution gets the first opportunity to introduce the case to the jury. They briefly describe what they will prove or disprove. Then, the defense gets to present its opening statements, offering a rebuttal.
- Evidence is Presented: This is often the longest stage of the trial. Witnesses are called and questioned by both sides. Evidence is also presented. This is where the prosecution attempts to prove the defendant’s guilt. Having a seasoned attorney can try to undermine the prosecution’s attempt at proving guilt.
- Closing Arguments: After evidence has been presented, each side gets to summarize their findings. This is their last chance to persuade the jury or judge.
- Jury Instructions: For jury trials, the judge will instruct the jury on their legal duties and how to apply the facts to the law.
- Jury Deliberations: After instructions, the jury will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty. This can take a long time. The jury must unanimously come to a decision.
- Verdict: The jury will submit their decision to the judge.
If the verdict is guilty or you plead guilty, you will be sentenced. The court will weigh many factors to determine how harsh your penalties will be.
Discuss the Criminal Procedure Overview with a Marquette Attorney
As you can see, the criminal procedure in Marquette is lengthy and complex. The team at Berger Law is devoted to fighting every step of the way. Our clients come first, and it is our hope to get charges reduced or dismissed. We work with the prosecutor, the judge, and with you to find the best possible outcome. Our team will work to poke every possible hole we can find in the prosecutor’s case to find you a way out.