Michigan Criminal Lawyers Representing Drunk Driving Defendants
Arraignments are the first hearings that occur after arrests, and they take place before judges or magistrates. You will be informed of the formal charges against you and told your rights, but you will also be asked whether you plead guilty or not guilty. If you were arrested and are facing a DUI arraignment, you should call the experienced trial attorneys at Michigan Defense Law. Our Michigan DUI lawyers may be able to represent you in the proceedings, help determine the best strategy for your arraignment. It is important to plan and prepare for an OWI arraignment because things can go wrong for the unprepared. The court will be setting bond and bond conditions that can significantly impact your ability to remain free while your OWI case is defended and also affect your ability to carry on with your employment, depending on your schedule and travel needs. It is much easier and smarter to make sure you properly handle your arraignment than it is to go back later and try and fix something that went wrong.
The Sixth Amendment creates your right to be advised of criminal charges. If you are arrested for a DUI without a warrant, the peace officer who arrested you is supposed to take you, without unnecessary delay, before a magistrate of the judicial district where the DUI is charged and present a complaint regarding the charges under the Code of Criminal Procedure section 764.13. However, if you are arrested with a warrant, the officer is supposed to take you to the judicial district stated on the warrant.
In addition, MCR 6.104 provides that you should be taken without unnecessary delay to court for arraignment after being arrested. Alternatively, you should be arraigned through the employment of two-way interactive video technology in accordance with MCR 6.006(A).
Often, people are released from jail following their arrest and the arraignment will be scheduled to take place at the courthouse. This provides you with an opportunity to be better prepared and make a better impression upon the court that will be handling your case.
The purpose of an arraignment is to let you know which offenses are being charged against you and to set a bond. If your DUI caused injuries and could be classified as a felony, for example, you might be charged with felony DUI and assault, along with other charges. The court should inform you of the nature of all the offenses with which you are charged, the maximum potential prison sentence, and any mandatory minimum sentence required by law. The court is supposed to make sure that your plea is informed. When you are being arraigned on a complaint, you should be able to get a copy of the charging documents at the arraignment.
If you are not represented by a lawyer at an arraignment, the court must advise you of certain constitutional rights. The court should let you know that you have the right to stay silent, anything that you say out loud or in written form could be used against you in court, you have a right to have an attorney present during any questioning related to the OWI to which you consent and the court can appoint a lawyer for you if you do not have the money for a lawyer.
Once you hear the charges, you will be asked to enter a plea. It is wise to have counsel represent you at the arraignment so that you can make sure that you understand the plea that you are entering. People charged with a misdemeanor Operating While Intoxicated or Operating While Visibly Impaired can plead guilty or stand mute, which is essentially pleading not guilty. Standing mute means that you acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction as well. Almost always, the proper thing to do at arraignment is to plead not guilty or stand mute. In some rare circumstances, such as you have been charged with a first offense OWI when it really should be a third offense felony, you may want to lock in the plea to avoid the more serious charge being added later. This is something that should be thoroughly discussed with an experienced attorney before you make a decision.
If you are charged with felony DUI, the court will schedule a date for your probable cause conference and preliminary examination. The probable cause conference should be set 7-14 days after the arraignment date, and your preliminary examination date should be set 5-7 days after the date of the probable cause conference. The court will make sure that you have been fingerprinted, as the law requires.
Setting Bond at Arraignment
Perhaps the most important part of the arraignment process in a drunk driving/ OWI case is setting bond.
MCR 6.06 provides that the court can order you to be held in custody pending trial, released on your personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond, or released conditionally with or without money bail. The court will look at whether pretrial release is appropriate; in cases of misdemeanor DUI, it usually is. Assuming that you can be released, the court will then set bond. It will need to determine the amount of bond, along with bond conditions.
The two factors the court looks at in setting bond are whether you are likely to appear for your court dates and whether you are a danger to the public. Because drunk driving is considered a threat to the public the court takes setting bond in these cases more seriously. If you have priors that make you look like someone with a substance abuse problem, they are more likely to set conditions that will be difficult for you to comply with. For example, posting cash to stay out of jail, daily breath or drug testing, AA attendance, alcohol tether, etc. It is important to be prepared to face these questions and issues before walking into the court for the arraignment. Having a plan ahead of time for convincing the court you are not a threat can lead to reduced bond conditions. Generally, appearing with a lawyer demonstrates to the court that you understand the seriousness of the charges you are facing and lends confidence that you will follow the rules.
Consult a Knowledgeable Michigan Attorney
If you are facing a DUI arraignment in Michigan, you should discuss your situation with our knowledgeable attorneys. We can work to find the approach most likely to yield an appropriate result. Michigan Defense Law represents clients in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties. Call us at (248) 451-2200 or complete our online form.