Criminal Process in Michigan: Pre-trial & Trial

Pretrial Negotiations

During this phase of the process, the defense may file any of a number of motions requesting the court to dismiss the case or suppress evidence prior to trial. A Michigan criminal defense attorney may file a Motion to Quash which is when the defendant alleges that the district court judge “abused his discretion” in binding the defendant over for trial and therefore asks that the charges and case be dismissed. The defense may also allege that evidence obtained during the investigation was in violation of the defendant’s civil rights and ask the court to suppress the evidence and not allow it at the trial. In a Walker Hearing, an allegation is made that the defendant’s confession was coerced or made in a way that violated his/her constitutional rights and should therefore not be allowed at the trial.

Trial

The trial follows all motions and pre-trials and has several different stages.

Voir Dire

This first stage involves selection of jury members. The judge and attorneys for both sides must be present and can ask prospective jurors questions to determine whether they are qualified and also unprejudiced and unbiased. Twelve jurors and two alternates are chosen and sworn in.

Opening Statements and Trial

Once jury selection is completed, prosecution and defense can make opening statements presenting a general outline of the case and their evidence. The burden of proof falls on the prosecution so they present their case first. The defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the defense is not required to submit evidence or witnesses. However, if the defense does choose to present a defense, the prosecution may respond with rebuttal evidence, additional evidence intended to disprove evidence presented by the defense.

Closing Arguments, Instruction, and Deliberation

Since the prosecution carries the burden of proof, they will present their closing argument first. After this, the defense may present its own closing argument, to which the prosecution may respond with a final rebuttal argument to the jury. Once all arguments are completed, the jury will be instructed on how they are to apply the law in their deliberations; they will then retire to deliberate on all evidence presented. The jury will return to court with a verdict which must be unanimous with all jury members in agreement. If they have found the defendant not guilty, the case is dismissed and the defendant is discharged. However, if the defendant is found guilty, he/she is entitled to appeal the verdict.

A Grand Rapids criminal defense attorney is experienced in all phases of felony criminal proceedings and may be able to assist you in avoiding or reducing potentially serious consequences of finding yourself the defendant in a felony criminal trial. If you have been accused of a crime, call us at (616) 244-2234.

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