Arraignment in Michigan

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In Michigan, authorities must take someone who has been arrested for a felony or arrested without a warrant and who remains in custody before a judge or magistrate “without unnecessary delay.” (Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 764.26, 764.13.) (This court appearance may actually occur either in person or through electronic broadcast.)

What constitutes an unnecessary delay depends on the circumstances. Generally, it’s a delay beyond the reasonable amount of time it takes for an officer to determine whether to draft a complaint or to release the arrested person.

(For more information on arraignment and initial court appearances in general, see Arraignment: Getting to Court. Also see How should I plead at arraignment?)

Effect of Unnecessary Delay

Defendants don’t always have a remedy for a violation of the right to a prompt arraignment. But a defendant who can establish that unnecessary delay led to incriminating evidence—for example, a confession—can ask a court to suppress such evidence. Yet, getting the court to suppress evidence is difficult. For example, unlawful delay is just one of several factors a court considers to determine the admissibility of a defendant’s pre-arraignment statements. (People v. Cipriano, 431 Mich. 315 (1988).)

Twenty Four/Seven

To help eliminate arraignment hearing delays, each Michigan county must have a judge or magistrate available every day of the year either for arraignment or to set bail after felony arrests. Consequently, holidays and weekends don’t justify delay in getting a suspect in front of a judicial officer. (Mich. Court Rules, Rule 6.104.)

Arraignment Basics

At arraignment, the court will:

  • inform the accused of the nature of the offense(s) charged, the maximum prison sentence, and any mandatory minimum sentence
  • inform an accused who doesn’t have an attorney of certain rights, including the rights to silence, to have an attorney present during any questioning, and to court-appointed counsel (if the defendant can’t afford to hire a lawyer)
  • appoint an attorney if appropriate
  • set a date within the next 14 days for a preliminary examination (equivalent to what some states call a “preliminary hearing”),
  • determine what form of pretrial release, if any, is appropriate, and
  • ensure that the accused has been fingerprinted. (Mich. Court Rules, Rule 6.104)

Establishing Probable Cause

A police officer who has arrested someone without a warrant must present to the judge or magistrate a complaint at or before the time of the arraignment. The complaint must include the substance of the accusation against the arrestee. (Mich. Court Rules, Rule 6.101). If the court finds probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a crime, the judge will proceed to arraignment.

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The information contained in this article should not replace the advice a licensed attorney. Anyone who is arrested should immediately seek out the services of an attorney. Only an experienced attorney can advise you of the applicable law and protect your rights.

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