The criminal lawyer Grand Rapids, MI trusts is Blanchard Law. The attorneys at Blanchard Law provide compassionate, understanding service to their clients, while fighting with everything they have to defend them in the courtroom.
If you have been charged with a felony in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is important that you understand how the process will work. Below is an overview of the hearings you will be required to attend if you have been charged with a felony:
- Arraignment. The purpose of an arraignment is to advise you of the charges against you, and the possible penalties for those charges if you are convicted of the crime. At the arraignment, the judge will also gather information in order to determine the amount of your bail.
- Probable Cause Conference. The probable cause conference is one of the first opportunities your attorney will have to speak to the prosecuting attorney about your case. There may be a plea offer extended at the probable cause conference that you will need to consider. Your attorney may need to seek additional information, or discovery, from the prosecuting attorney, such as video evidence, police reports, or lab results. If additional information is still needed, it is not likely that your case will resolve with a plea on this date.
- Preliminary Examination. The preliminary examination is often the most important hearing in your case prior to a jury trial. At that hearing, the prosecuting attorney is required to put on evidence to prove to the District Court judge that there is probable cause that there was a crime committed and that you committed that crime. It is something like a mini-trial, with the prosecutor putting witnesses on the stand and questioning them, and then your attorney cross-examining the witnesses. You will also have the opportunity to present witnesses at the preliminary examination. While it is exceedingly rare to win at this stage of the process, the preliminary examination is often the best preparation tool available for trial. You get to see how and what the government’s witnesses will testify to, and a transcript of their testimony will be created afterward that can be used later at trial. At the end of the preliminary examination, if the district court judge finds that probable cause exists, the judge will “bind over” or transfer the case to the Circuit Court.
- Circuit Court Arraignment. Once the district court binds the case over to the Circuit Court, you will again be arraigned. The purpose of this hearing is to again advise you of the charges, the possible penalties, and to evaluate bond. This hearing can be waived by you and your attorney if your lawyer believes that it is unnecessary.
- Cobbs Hearing. If your lawyer believes that it is advisable, he or she can request a Cobbs Hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to have the judge tell your lawyer what the judge believes he or she would do in regard to sentencing in the event that you entered a particular plea. The judge may make a “Cobbs agreement” that if you enter a plea, he or she will give you a particular sentence. If the judge does not give you that particular sentence at sentencing, then you would be permitted to withdraw your plea and start the process over again.
- Status Conference / Pretrial Conference. At one or more points during the case, it is likely that you will be required to attend a status conference or pretrial conference. The purpose of this hearing is to see if plea negotiations can continue, or to see if there are other unaddressed issues such as needed discovery or scheduling issues that must be addressed.
- Motion Hearing. Your lawyer may choose to file motions during the case, asking the judge to decide issues that are specific to your case. For example, your lawyer may file a motion requesting that the judge suppress evidence in your case. These hearings sometimes require testimony, and you will be required to attend.
- If you reach a plea agreement with the prosecuting attorney, you would enter your plea in open court in front of the judge, either at a scheduled pretrial conference or on a separate date set to enter the plea.
- Jury Trial. If you are unable to reach a satisfactory plea agreement, then you would go forward with the jury trial. In a felony case, you would try your case in front of twelve jurors, who would decide your guilt or innocence. The stages of a jury trial include:
*Jury selection (Voir dire): The prosecutor and defense lawyer (or in some cases, the judge) speak to potential jurors to determine if they can be fair in deciding the case. Some jurors are released because circumstances are such that they cannot be fair, and the prosecutor and defense also have a specific number of jurors that they can release without providing a reason.
*Opening Statements: The prosecutor and defense attorney give opening statements that outline for the jury what they expect that the evidence in the case will show.
*Prosecution Witnesses: The prosecution presents their case, putting on witnesses. The prosecutor questions the witnesses first, and then the defense is given the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.
*Defense Witnesses: After the prosecution has finished putting on witnesses, the defense then has an opportunity to present witnesses. The defense questions the witnesses first, and then the prosecutor is given the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.
*Rebuttal: After the defense finishes putting on witnesses, the prosecutor is given the chance to put on rebuttal witnesses, to answer testimony put on by the defense witnesses. The prosecutor questions first, with cross-examination by the defense.
*Closing Statements: The prosecutor and defense give closing statements to the jury, summarizing the evidence and making arguments why the jury should find the defendant guilty or not guilty. The prosecutor goes first, then the defense. The prosecutor then gets one last opportunity to give a “rebuttal closing.”
*Verdict: The jury renders a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
Sentencing. If you are convicted by either a plea or at a jury trial, then the final hearing will be sentencing. At this hearing, the victim will be given the chance to speak. You will also have a chance to speak on your own behalf, and your lawyer will be given an opportunity to speak for you as well.
If you have been charged with a felony offense, contact the criminal lawyer Grand Rapids, MI trusts and respects. Blanchard Law will be there to assist you every step of the way. Call now at 616-773-2945.