Michigan Criminal Defense Overview
Your first thought, when charged with a criminal offense in Michigan, is likely, “What’s going to happen to me?” Criminal charges can carry grim consequences, so it’s no wonder people are scared and unsure of what to do. The best way to handle your case is to hire a criminal defense attorney to work with you.
The accomplished Lansing criminal defense firm, DeBruin Law has practiced in Ingham and Clinton counties for several years, handling cases for many residents with various criminal cases.
Trust a Lansing criminal defense lawyer who is experienced with the laws in Michigan help you understand the complicated aspects of criminal defense, including:
- Asset Forfeiture Proceedings – In a criminal or civil case, the police may repossess or seize your assets if they can prove in court that the crime took place at the same time you acquired the property; that means they don’t even need to wait for a conviction before they repossess your property. If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, they are allowed to sell your assets and use the monies collected to fund various law enforcement ventures. Consequently, law enforcement has good reason to want to practice asset seizure as often as they can. As the defendant, you must refute claims that you acquired property as a direct result of a crime, and you will no doubt have a tough road ahead of you. An experienced Lansing criminal defense attorney can help you make your case so that you don’t lose your belongings.
- Michigan Criminal Court Process – Your first appearance in criminal court is your arraignment. This is where a judge formally reads aloud the charges against you and the corresponding maximum penalty for each charge. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, the judge will ask you how you want to plead: guilty, not guilty, or stand mute (which is treated as a not guilty plea.) If you plead guilty or no contest, the judge may decide to sentence you on the spot; if you plead not guilty or stand mute, the judge will schedule a pretrial conference.
If you are charged with a felony, you’ll receive a felony preliminary examination two weeks after your arraignment, where the prosecuting attorney tries to convince the judge that:
a.) The crime was committed and b.) You committed said crime.
Both the pretrial conference and the preliminary examination determine whether a case will go to trial. The fate of your case rests on a few short meetings, so it’s imperative that you make the best decisions. Start by contacting a seasoned Lansing criminal defense attorney, who can explain each step of the process in depth and help you decide how to move forward.
- Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction– You are already familiar with the direct consequences of a criminal conviction: fines and time served in jail or prison. But what are some of the collateral consequences? These are issues that will crop up after a conviction and could continue to haunt you well after you’ve served your time. Your criminal record can hinder your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, participate in certain governmental benefits or programs, and other aspects of life that you may not have considered. To ensure your rights are not violated because of your record, you may want to discuss any potential problems with a knowledgeable Lansing criminal defense attorney.
- Expungements – If you’ve been convicted of not more than one felony offense, or not more than two misdemeanors, you may be able to get your conviction set aside, or expunged. An expungement removes the ability to see your conviction, allowing you to be free of hindrances you may face when you have an criminal record. The court and police department will keep a nonpublic record of your conviction on file, so your record won’t be entirely erased. Additionally, not all persons who fit the description are eligible; the type of felony or misdemeanor committed may determine whether or not you are eligible to apply for expungement. Talk to a Lansing criminal defense attorney to learn more about expunging your record.
- Hiring Your Lansing Criminal Defense Lawyer – Being charged with a criminal offense is extremely serious. Charges can result in convictions carrying huge fines, incarceration, and many more problems that could plague you for the rest of your life. That’s why it’s crucial for you to make the best possible choice when hiring a criminal defense attorney. You need to make sure your attorney is well-versed in the laws and rules of the local court, as well as any relevant federal laws. You want someone who has a significant amount of experience, can keep you up-to-date on your case, and will always be available when you need to talk. This list of questions to ask your potential attorney might benefit you in your search for the right representation.
- Probation Violations – Generally you are placed on probation in lieu of serving time in a jail or prison. If this is the case, you must fully comply with all your probation requirements, which usually means, among other stipulations, that you’ll pay a fee, attend a treatment or rehabilitation program, and refrain from committing any other crimes. If you violate the terms of your probation, you could end up serving time in jail or prison. A skilled Lansing criminal defense lawyer can explain what will happen to you if you violate your probation and will work with the court in order to get you the best possible outcome.
- Search and Seizure – Under Michigan law, you are protected from illegal search and seizures. However, what is considered reasonable and unreasonable can be difficult to determine, and you may be persuaded to agree to a search and seizure when you didn’t need to. Your best bet is to contact a Lansing attorney who is well-versed in the intricacies of criminal law, such as search and seizure, to help you fully comprehend your rights.
- Sentencing and Penalties – Typically, misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine; however, some misdemeanors may impose a longer jail term and a higher fine. Felony charges, which are scheduled into classes A through H, result in punishments that range from probation to life in prison and fines of a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands, all depending on the severity of the crime. Sentencing is such a critical part of your case that you should definitely have legal representation on your side. A veteran criminal defense attorney will skillfully negotiate your sentence to ensure your penalties are as minimal as the court allows.
- Your Rights When Accused of a Crime – Anyone accused of a crime is entitled to his or her rights as laid out in the Miranda warning. You should practice these rights as they keep you from incriminating yourself and potentially adding unnecessary stress to an already difficult situation. Another important right to keep in mind is your right to an attorney; this is one you should definitely exercise. A professional Lansing criminal defense attorney’s most important goals are to make sure your rights aren’t violated and that you are afforded the best possible outcome for your case.
Contact a Lansing Criminal Defense Lawyer
Regardless of the criminal charges, you’re facing, the Lansing criminal defense attorneys at DeBruin Law PLLC will tirelessly work with you to navigate your case through the criminal process towards the most favorable end result and offer you peace of mind in knowing someone is looking out for your best interests. Call us today at (517) 324-4303 or use the online form to schedule a free consultation.