The Criminal Process: Arraignment

The first step, after an arrest, in any Michigan criminal case is an arraignment. During an arraignment you will stand before a district court judge or magistrate and they will read the charges that are being brought against you. They will then ask how you would like to plead to those charges. Here are your options:

Guilty

By pleading guilty, you are accepting responsibility for the alleged crime, and any punishment the judge chooses to give you. The judge will ask you why you think you are guilty, and ask you to state the facts that meet the elements of the crime you are pleading to. If you plead guilty at your arraignment you will not have the option to try to work out a deal with the prosecutor. Be very careful not to enter a guilty plea unless you are fully informed of the consequences for doing so.

Not Guilty

A plea of not guilty implies that you believe you are innocent of the charges. You will be entitled to a trial where the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a crime committed and that you were the one who committed it.

No Contest

A no contest plea carries the same weight as a guilty plea. You are accepting responsibility for the crime, but are not admitting that you actually did the crime. A plea of no contest is often used to avoid civil liability. Frequently, when someone is hurt they wish to sue the person that hurt them for their damages. Because criminal cases have a much higher burden of proof, a guilty plea or a conviction carries a lot of weight in civil court. A plea of no contests allows someone to take the punishment, but never actually have to admit to doing the crime. Another reason to plead no contest is if you simply cannot remember the events that lead up to your being charged with a crime. If you are intoxicated, or otherwise unable to remember what happened, but still want to take responsibility for the crime, this is the way to go.

Stand Mute

If you stand mute, most courts will enter a plea of not guilty and set your case for a pretrial date.

Our best advice is to stand mute if you are arraigned on any charges and ask for an attorney or time to retain one. A not guilty plea will be entered and you will then have time to consult an attorney to determine what will be best for your case.

If you have any questions please email or call Jill at 248-624-5500 or jill@ambroselawgroup.com

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