After a person has been investigated for a sex offense and arrested for CSC, there are still a number of steps that must take place before trial. It is critical to have an attorney during this stage of your case, as you will need to make decisions about how to plead, what the theme of your case is going to be, what mistakes -if any- you can argue were made during investigation and arrest, and whether or not you should accept a plea bargain if one is offered.
In the state of Michigan, the first step after a Criminal Sexual Conduct arrest is an arraignment in District Court. During arraignment, the defendant is sometimes able to enter a plea, and bail will be set. In all district court arraignments, the defendant will be told what he or she is being charged with, what the maximum penalty faced is, what his or her rights are (including the right to a jury trial and right to an attorney), and if bail is set, the judge may also establish certain conditions which must be met, such as a requirement that the defendant not contact the victim.
The specific pretrial procedures that take place may depend on what degree of CSC you have been charged with. If you have been arrested for a sex crime in Michigan and need to speak to a sex crimes attorney, call 1-800-342-7896 now for a free initial case consultation. Read on to learn more about CSC pretrial procedures in Michigan.
During a District Court arraignment for a misdemeanor charge, the defendant can either enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, enter a plea of no contest, or stand mute, which is treated as a not guilty plea. If you plead guilty or no contest, you may be sentenced during arraignment, and the case might not go to trial. Sometimes, a sentencing date is still scheduled even after a guilty or no contest plea, which gives the probation department ample time to prepare a report on the defendant’s history and to make a recommendation concerning what the sentence will be.
If a defendant chooses to fight a charge by pleading not guilty or by standing mute, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled. During this conference, it is established whether or not the case will go to trial, or whether a plea del can be reached. Never accept a plea deal without consulting an experienced defense attorney, as it is extremely rare that prosecutors are willing to give you a better deal than you could get via trial.
In addition to the pretrial conference, there may be pretrial hearings, motions submitted, and evidence reviewed based on issues that the defense has with how it was collected or handled.
If you are arrested for a felony CSC charge, you will not be given the opportunity to enter a plea. The court will advise the defendant that he or she has a right to a preliminary exam within two weeks of district court arraignment. In addition, if the defendant has not yet secured an attorney, the court might consider a request for court-appointed legal representation.
After the felony arraignment, a pre-exam conference might be scheduled before the preliminary examination. During the pre-exam conference, a similar process to the misdemeanor pre-trial conference will take place, and the prosecution will meet the defendant or the defense attorney to see if a plea deal can be reached.
If a deal is not reached, preliminary examination will follow. This district court hearing is held within 14 days of the arraignment, and the prosecution has to present witnesses to convince the court that there is probable cause to believe the defendant did indeed commit CSC. The burden of proof during this hearing is not nearly as high as in trial, so a prosecutor usually does not have to present as many witnesses in order to establish probable cause. If cause is sufficiently established, the case moves on to Circuit Court. If there is not sufficient reason to believe a defendant committed CSC, the judge can bind the case over on another charge, reduce the charge to a misdemeanor which will be tried in District Court, or dismiss the charges completely. If a defendant decides to do so, he or she can skip this stage entirely and waive examination, at which point the case will likely move to Circuit Court.
Once the case comes to Circuit Court, another felony arraignment takes place. During this Circuit Court arraignment, a plea is entered. The process then follows a similar pattern to a misdemeanor case, as a pretrial conference takes place, plea bargaining is handled, and other pre-trial issues and motions are dealt with.
If you have been arrested for Criminal Sexual Conduct, it is never too early to begin working with an attorney. Contact Grabel & Associates online or call 1-800-342-7896 for a free case analysis. Begin working with an experienced Michigan sex crime defense lawyer now and fight for your freedom throughout every stage of the criminal process.