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Arraignment Definition

After being arrested or charged with a crime, including a felony or misdemeanor, a defendant’s first formal appearance in court is an arraignment. An arraignment is usually a short court proceeding.

At the hearing, a judge or magistrate will inform the defendant of the criminal charges, including the maximum possible time of incarceration and how high the fines can be if the defendant is convicted. They will then decide on an appropriate bond or bail that must be posted before the defendant can be released from custody.

Every criminal defendant in Michigan has a right to a lawyer at the hearing. A retailed criminal defense attorney will help the accused prepare for the hearing to ensure they receive a low or personal bond.

In addition to setting a bond amount (personal, cash, surety, etc.), the judge or magistrate will also set conditions of the bond. If the defendant fails to follow the conditions, the judge can revoke or increase the bond, give a warning, or order the defendant’s incarceration. Typical conditions of bond include:

  • No drugs or alcohol (with testing)
  • No possession of firearms or ammunition
  • No new crimes or arrests
  • No contact with victims (if any)
  • No leaving Michigan without permission of the court

Common Questions

What usually happens at an arraignment?

An arraignment is the first court proceeding in a criminal case. A criminal defendant is advised by a magistrate or judge of the charges that have been filed against them, their legal and constitutional rights, and the maximum penalties. A criminal defendant then enters a plea (guilty, not guilty, no contest), the issue of bond is determined, and a future court date is set.

What is the primary purpose of the arraignment?

To inform a criminal defendant of the charges against them.

Does an arraignment mean you’re going to jail?

An arraignment does not automatically mean a criminal defendant will go to jail. Depending on the nature of the charges, it is possible to be released on a personal, surety, cash, or 10% bond during the pendency of a criminal case.

What happens if you plead not guilty at an arraignment?

If a criminal defendant pleads not guilty at an arraignment, the court will set a future court date, such as a pretrial or a probable cause conference, depending on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or felony. Most defendants “stand mute” at arraignment. When the accused stands mute, the judge will enter a not guilty plea on their behalf.

How long can someone be held without an arraignment?

Michigan does not have a certain time limitation before someone arrested by the police must be arraigned (brought before a judge so the bond can be determined). Michigan Court Rule 6.104 states, “Unless released beforehand, an arrested person must be taken without unnecessary delay before a court for arraignment….”

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