After arrest, the defendant is brought before the District Court and informed of the charges against them. They are advised of their right to an attorney. The judge then sets bond (bail) and sets a date for the probable cause hearing. Most defendants are released on bond. A victim may contact the county jail to find out if the defendant has been released.
The court will schedule a time for the prosecutor and the defendant or his or her attorney to discuss the case, and likely a potential plea to all charges, some of the charges, or reduced charges, depending on the case.
This hearing is before the District Court Judge and must be scheduled within 21 days of the arraignment, unless the parties agree to a delay. Using a probable cause standard, the Prosecutor must show that a crime was committed, and that the defendant committed it. If the Judge determines there is probable cause, the defendant is bound over to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. A defendant may decide to waive the preliminary examination and be sent directly to the Circuit Court.
The defendant is again arraigned, and given formal notice of the crime(s) charged against him or her. He or she enters a plea to the charge(s). A pre-trial conference may occur at this time.
Numerous events can occur before a trial. The Court may determine whether evidence will be admitted or excluded at trial. The Court may find there is some legal reason why the defendant should not be tried. The defense attorney and the Prosecutor may meet to determine whether the defendant will plead guilty to the crime(s) charged, or to some other offense(s) to resolve the case. If the defendant pleads guilty, there will be no trial. Once the defendant pleads guilty or is convicted, the Court will set a sentencing date.
A trial may be heard by the Judge, or by a jury. During trial, the defendant is not required to prove his or her innocence. The Prosecutor must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Following the trial, either the Judge or the jury renders a decision of guilty or acquittal. If the defendant is found guilty, the Court will set a sentencing date.
Before sentencing, a Michigan Department of Corrections probation officer will prepare a Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSIR). The report contains information about the crime, the defendant's criminal history (if any) and background, and a sentence recommendation.
The victim may submit a written or oral impact statement to the probation officer, and ask that it be included within the PSIR.
During the sentencing hearing and prior to sentencing, a victim may choose to address the court and present a victim impact statement. The Court will then sentence the defendant. A sentence may include a fine, probation, community service, and/or a term in jail or prison. If requested by the victim and properly documented, the Court must order the defendant to make restitution to the victim.
If the victim asks, the Prosecutor will keep them informed of any appeal or other post-conviction proceedings. If an appeals is filed with the Court of Appeals, you can search for the status and documents in the case using the Court of Appeals' website.