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Understanding the Criminal Defense Process

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Understanding the Criminal Defense Process

Understanding the Criminal Defense Process

by Van Den Heuvel Law Office

The criminal process can be incredibly confusing, especially if it is the first time that you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime. Understanding how the criminal defense process works can take a lot of stress and ambiguity out of the situation, and hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the best chance at maintaining your freedom after an arrest. To learn more about how our office can help, call or contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office today.

Investigation of a Crime

After a crime is committed, the first step in the process is an investigation of the case by law enforcement. If they believe that you or someone that you know committed the crime, you become a person of interest in the case. Law enforcement may request that you come in for questioning, and it is critical that you bring a qualified attorney with you to protect your rights during an interrogation.

Arrest and Charges

If law enforcement believes that they have enough evidence, you will be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. A prosecutor is allowed to bring charges if there is probable cause, or sufficient evidence, that you may have committed the crime. The arrest is made by the police, who may detain you in jail until the first hearing on the case.

Court Process

The court process in Michigan differs slightly depending on whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense. For a misdemeanor crime, the first step is arraignment, where you will submit a plea and bond is determined for the case. If you can make bond, you are set free from jail until the time comes for trial. The next step is the pretrial process, where a criminal defense attorney does their own investigation into the case and argues issues before the court that can have a substantial impact on whether the case even goes to trial. Issues regarding evidence and witness statements are all determined at the pretrial phase. If a plea is not made or charges dismissed, the case then goes to trial. Each side has a chance to present their case, and either a judge or the jury will render a verdict. If found guilty, a sentencing hearing occurs where the judge determines the penalties for the crime, but if you are found innocent at trial, you are allowed to walk free.

The felony process is similar to the misdemeanor process but with a couple of extra steps. After arraignment, a pre-exam conference is held where each side discusses whether a deal can be met that avoids a full trial. Then comes a preliminary examination, where the court determines whether in fact there is probable cause to move the case to trial. If there is enough evidence to proceed, then a felony case follows the same steps as a misdemeanor.

Talk to Our Office

Do you have more questions about the criminal defense process? If so, talk to the experienced Michigan lawyers at the Van Den Heuvel Law Office today to schedule a consultation of your case.

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