Sumner PC & Associates
DUI & Criminal Defense
When you face charges or are the subject of an investigation in Michigan, you need a criminal defense lawyer in Michigan to protect your constitutional rights and fight for your freedom. At Sumner & Associates, we take our obligation to defend our clients seriously. We deliver tenacious, detail-oriented, and creative defenses and will work with you to get the best possible result in your case.
Types of Michigan Criminal Cases We Handle
Sumner & Associates defends clients against a wide variety of criminal charges, including:
- Assault and battery,
- Computer crimes (including identity theft and cyber crimes),
- Domestic Violence and Domestic abuse,
- Drug and Marijuana charges,
- Driving on a suspended license or other driving-related crimes,
- DUI/DWI (Drunk Driving) charges,
- Felony charges,
- Fraud and embezzlement,
- Gun and weapons-related crimes,
- Misdemeanor charges,
- Sex crimes (including sexual assault, rape, and pornography charges),
- Theft and robbery, and
- White collar crimes.
Our lawyers will zealously defend you, your child, or a loved one against criminal charges. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
What Should I Do if I’m Arrested or Charged with a Crime in Michigan?
If you’re arrested, do not panic. Instead, you should immediately begin preparing your defense. At Sumner & Associates, we strongly recommend that you:
- Do not resist arrest or attempt to flee.
- Do not provide a fake name or false documents to the police.
- Call your Michigan criminal defense attorney immediately.
- Remain silent until your local criminal defense attorney arrives.
What Happens After You’re Arrested in Michigan?
After your arrest, the Michigan police should advise you of your Miranda rights (such as your right to remain silent). You will be searched, booked, and the police will confiscate your personal property. Depending on your circumstances, law enforcement might release you on bond or keep you in police custody until your arraignment. You should also have an opportunity to call your criminal defense lawyer.
Next, a Michigan prosecutor will review your case and decide whether or not to press charges. If the prosecutor decides to move forward with your case, you or your lawyer must attend a series of court hearings, including:
- Pre-trial conferences,
- Pre-exam conferences,
- Felony preliminary examinations,
- Trial, and
- Sentencing hearings.
These hearings all have strict procedural rules and requirements. At Sumner & Associates, we will ensure that you meet these requirements and are fully prepared for each proceeding. To understand the process of trying a criminal case in more detail, review the following “Steps of a Criminal Case in Michigan” section.
Steps of a Criminal Case in Michigan
What happens throughout a criminal case can be confusing. The following summary explains how a criminal case in our adult courts generally progresses through Michigan’s criminal justice system. Specific procedures may vary from county to county.
1. Crime Committed in Michigan and Police Notified
When a crime is committed in your county, a citizen can make a complaint by calling “911″, which acts as our Central Dispatch for all police calls. A Michigan State officer will then be dispatched to handle the case. Sometimes the police see the crime occur and can take immediate action without a citizen’s complaint.
2. Police Investigate
All crimes must be investigated by a police agency. The prosecutor’s office does not accept complaints from the public as we have no legal authority to investigate the crime. If you come to the prosecutor’s office wishing to file a complaint, we will ask that you contact a police agency for an investigation.
The investigation by police may include: interviews of witnesses, victims and suspects; visiting, viewing, measuring and photographing the crime scene; collecting physical evidence such as clothing, fingerprints, or blood samples which may have to be sent to a crime laboratory for analysis; identifying suspects through crime scene analysis, witness statements, and lineups. This may take days, weeks and even months! Because a thorough investigation is necessary to a successful prosecution, the police may not be able to arrest the suspect immediately.
Sometimes, but not often, the investigation by the police may lead to the need for a grand jury to review the evidence. However, this procedure is not often used in Michigan anymore.
3. Police Make an Arrest and Request a Warrant
When a crime is committed in a police officer’s presence, or the officer has “probable cause” to believe that certain misdemeanors or any felonies have been committed but did not see it happen, an officer may arrest a suspect on the spot without an arrest warrant. The officer must then submit a warrant request to the prosecuting attorney, suggesting potential charges to be authorized.
If an arrest is not made, after the officer has completed his or her investigation, the officer must submit a warrant request to the prosecuting attorney, again suggesting potential charges to be authorized by the prosecutor.
4. Warrant Request Reviewed by Prosecuting Attorney
When the police officer submits a warrant request to the prosecuting attorney, the officer also submits a police report containing the information learned about the incident. The report may include witness statements, pictures, driving record and criminal history record of the suspect.
This is usually the first time that the prosecutor’s office is involved in the case unless a prosecutor reviewed a search warrant or went to the crime scene. At this stage, the prosecuting attorney determines whether a person should be charged with a crime and, if so, what the crime should be. The prosecutor thoroughly reviews all reports and records concerning the case. On occasion and if necessary, Michigan prosecutors will send the case back to the police to conduct additional investigation.
5. Warrant Issued and Warrants Denied
The prosecuting attorney can issue a charge if the prosecutor believes that “probable cause” exists that the suspect committed the offense. However, most Michigan prosecutors apply the higher standard of proof necessary at trial, whether the charge can be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” based on the information known at the time.
If the prosecutor determines that the information in the police report and records do not give sufficient evidence to charge the suspect, the prosecutor may deny the issuance of criminal charges against the suspect.
If the prosecutor determines that a charge should be brought, a complaint and warrant are prepared. The complaining witness, usually a police officer, must then testify before the district court magistrate that the information for the complaint and warrant is true. Once the magistrate hears the testimony of the complaining witness, the magistrate must then make an independent determination if probable cause is shown for the charge to be brought.
6. Suspect Arrested (If Not Already in Custody) and Bond Set
If the suspect (now called the “defendant”) has not been arrested, the police officer receives the warrant from the district court so the officer can try to have the defendant arrested. Generally, the wanted person’s name is put into a nationwide law enforcement computer system so that if the defendant has contact with the police, the police will know that there is a valid warrant for the defendant’s arrest and can apprehend the defendant on the spot.
The delay between the crime and the defendant’s arrest on an authorized charge can take any length of time (e.g., if the defendant’s whereabouts are unknown, or if the defendant has left the State of Michigan).
Once the complaint and warrant have been issued and the defendant is in custody, the magistrate sets a bond requirement for the defendant to post. The bond requirement could range from a personal recognizance bond, which requires no money to be posted, to a cash bond of any amount. The magistrate can also put conditions on the bond, depending on the type of case, such as no consumption of alcohol, daily breathalyzer tests, live in a court-approved residence, or no contact by the defendant with a victim of the crime. In a few very serious cases, such as Murder, the magistrate can refuse to set any bond, which means that the defendant remains incarcerated until the case is decided.
7. District Court Arraignment and Pretrial Procedures
This is the first in-court appearance for any misdemeanor or felony offense. A misdemeanor is a crime which has a maximum punishment of up to one year in the county jail. A felony is a crime which has a maximum punishment in excess of one year. The pretrial procedures for felonies and misdemeanors differ, so they are dealt with separately in the next several paragraphs.
At the misdemeanor arraignment, the defendant is told what the charge(s) are, the maximum penalty if convicted, and his/her constitutional rights to jury/bench trial, court-appointed attorney, presumption of innocence, etc. The defendant is given the opportunity to enter one of four pleas at this time: guilty, no contest, not guilty or stand mute. A plea of guilty or no contest means the defendant is convicted of the offense without a trial and is subject to being sentenced by the court. The District Court judge may sentence the defendant on the spot or may reschedule the case for a sentencing date after the court’s probation department has prepared a pre-sentence investigation report (discussed later). If the defendant pleads not guilty or stands mute, the case is scheduled for a pretrial conference.
All misdemeanor cases are scheduled for a meeting between an assistant prosecuting attorney and the defendant (or the defendant’s attorney) to determine whether the case will go to trial or be resolved with a plea. A member of the court staff is also involved to facilitate the meeting. These meetings focus on resolving the case short of going to trial. The judge and the witnesses are not directly involved with the pretrial conference. Plea bargains are often discussed at this meeting, although they can be discussed up to the time of trial as well.
Many other events can occur prior to trial. Depending on the nature of the case, there may be pretrial hearings on constitutional issues (confessions, searches, identification, etc.). The issues are presented to the court through written “motions” (e.g., Motion to Suppress Evidence). The judge must determine whether evidence will be admitted or suppressed at the defendant’s trial, whether there is some legal reason why the defendant should not be tried, or decide other ground rules for trial.
At the felony arraignment in District Court, the defendant is told what the charge(s) are, the maximum penalty if convicted, and the right to have a preliminary examination within 14 days of the arraignment. The judge must also consider a defendant’s request for a court-appointed attorney at this time.
8. Pre-Preliminary Examination Conference
Sometimes the court schedules a “pre-conference” several days before the scheduled preliminary examination. This conference operates much like the misdemeanor pretrial conference, as a meeting between the prosecutor and defendant (or the defendant’s attorney) to see if the case can be resolved without the need to hold the preliminary examination. If a defendant has not yet hired an attorney, the court may appoint an attorney to represent the defendant so that the preliminary examination may go on as scheduled.
9. Preliminary Examination
This is an evidentiary hearing before the District Court judge, sometimes called a “probable cause hearing.” This hearing is scheduled to be held within 14 days of the District Court arraignment, but may be adjourned to a later date. At this hearing, the prosecutor questions witnesses to convince the judge that there is at least probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and the defendant committed it. Because the burden of proof is much less at the preliminary examination than at trial, the prosecutor generally does not call all potential witnesses to testify at this hearing. Usually, a few witnesses who saw or heard some part of the crime are called to testify. The defendant, through his/her attorney, can cross-examine the witnesses and call other witnesses to support defendant’s side of the case.
If probable cause is established, the judge orders that the defendant is “bound over” (meaning “sent”) to Circuit Court for trial. If the judge decides that there is not probable cause, the judge can bind the case over to Circuit Court on different charges, reduce the charge(s) to a misdemeanor for trial in District Court, or dismiss the charge(s).
A defendant can also give up their right to a preliminary examination by “waiving” the right to have such a hearing. Most felony cases end up in Circuit Court after a “waiver” rather than a hearing.
Circuit Court Arraignment
After the case is sent to Circuit Court, the defendant is again arraigned on the charge(s) that were the result of being bound over. Again, the defendant is given formal notice of the charges against him/her and the maximum penalty in a document called an “Information.” The defendant is given the opportunity to enter one of four pleas at this time: guilty, no contest, not guilty or stand mute. A plea of guilty or no contest means the defendant is convicted of the offense without a trial and is subject to being sentenced by the court. The Circuit Court must schedule the case for a sentencing date after the court’s probation department has prepared a pre-sentence investigation report (discussed later). If the defendant pleads not guilty or stands mute, the case is scheduled for a pretrial conference.
This may also be called a “scheduling conference.” Much like the pretrial conference at the District Court level, cases are scheduled for a meeting between an assistant prosecuting attorney and the defendant (or the defendant’s attorney) to determine whether the case will go to trial or be resolved with a plea. A member of the court staff is also involved to facilitate the meeting. These meetings focus on resolving the case short of going to trial. Testimony is not taken at this time. Plea bargains are often discussed at this meeting, although they can be discussed up to the time of trial as well.
Many other events can occur prior to trial. Depending on the nature of the case, there may be pretrial hearings on constitutional issues (confessions, searches, identification, etc.). The issues are presented to the court through written “motions” (e.g., Motion to Suppress Evidence). The judge must determine whether evidence will be admitted or suppressed at the defendant’s trial, whether there is some legal reason why the defendant should not be tried, or decide other ground rules for trial. Based on the judge’s rulings, efforts may be made to resolve the case through a plea bargain.
10. Jury Trial and Judge Trial
A trial is an adversary proceeding in which the prosecutor, on behalf of the plaintiff (which is called “The People of the State of Michigan”), must present evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The defendant is not required to prove his/her innocence or to present any evidence but may challenge the accuracy of the prosecutor’s evidence.
Both the defendant and the prosecution have the right to a trial by jury. Sometimes, though, both sides agree to let the judge listen to the evidence and decide the case without a jury — this is often called a “bench trial.” In a jury trial, the jury is the “trier of the facts”; in a bench trial, the judge is. After the evidence is presented in the trial, the jury or judge will determine whether the evidence proved that the defendant committed the crime.
The following is a general outline of the steps in a jury trial, used for both felony and misdemeanor cases:
- Residents of the local county are randomly selected from a list of registered voters and/or licensed drivers and are summoned to the Court as potential jurors.
- A blind draw selects twelve to fourteen people from that group to sit as jurors for felony trials. Near the end of the trial, one or two jurors are excused to reduce the number to twelve to decide the case. For misdemeanor trials, the number selected is six or seven people, with the number reduced to six to decide the case.
- The judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney then ask questions of the prospective jurors about their backgrounds and beliefs in an attempt to find jurors who will be impartial and unbiased. This is called “voir dire.”
- The attorneys may excuse some of the prospective jurors in one of two ways. A juror may be challenged on grounds of good cause why they should be excused. For example, the spouse of the defendant would probably not be an impartial and unbiased juror. The attorneys may also excuse a limited number of prospective jurors without giving a reason. This is called a “peremptory” challenge.
- After the challenges are over, the judge or court clerk administers an oath to the jury to uphold their legal duties to make a fair and impartial decision after hearing the facts from the witnesses and the judge’s instructions on the law. The judge then reads some basic instructions about the trial process and some of the rules of law that apply to the case.
- The prosecutor gives an opening statement to the jury in which he/she outlines the People’s case and the evidence to be presented by the prosecution.
- The defense attorney may give a similar opening statement, outlining the defense of the case, or wait until later in the trial.
- The prosecutor calls witnesses and may introduce exhibits. The defense attorney may cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses.
- The prosecutor finishes with his/her witnesses and rests the People’s case.
- If the defense attorney has not given an opening statement earlier, it is done now. Then the defense attorney may call witnesses and the prosecutor may cross-examine them. The defendant is not required to call any witnesses, though.
- The defense rests.
- The prosecutor may present “rebuttal” witnesses to challenge the testimony of the defendant’s witnesses.
- The prosecutor rests again.
- The prosecutor presents a closing summary to the jury, often called “closing argument.”
- The defense attorney then presents a closing summary to the jury.
- The prosecutor may present a rebuttal argument to the jury in response to the defense attorney’s closing argument.
- The judge gives the jury detailed instructions on the law about the charged crime(s) and the deliberation process.
- The jury is sent to the jury room to deliberate and make a decision. A jury’s verdict in a criminal case must be unanimous, which means that all jurors must agree on the verdict. The jury must determine if the prosecution has proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The jury returns its verdict in the courtroom. If the verdict is guilty, the judge refers the case to the probation department for a pre-sentence investigation report. If the verdict is not guilty, the judge enters an Order dismissing the case.
11. Pre-Sentence Investigation Report
The court’s probation department prepares a report for the judge, summarizing the crime and the defendant’s personal and criminal background. Generally, the victim is contacted for information and recommendations. The probation officer includes a recommended sentence in the report, but the judge does not have to follow this recommendation.
12. Sentencing in Michigan
Sentencing in Michigan varies from crime to crime, and can be the most confusing part of the criminal process. Most often, sentences are at the judge’s discretion. The judge will consider the information in the pre-sentence investigation report (subject to factual corrections by the parties), additional evidence offered by the parties, comments by the crime victim if applicable, and any other information relevant to the judge’s sentencing decision.
For felonies, the Circuit Court judge must also consult “Sentencing Guidelines” approved by the Legislature. These guidelines factor in aspects of the defendant’s criminal conduct and any prior criminal record to determine the minimum jail or prison sentence.
The judge may consider different alternatives, including a fine, probation, community service, electronic tether, a sentence to jail or prison, or a combination of these sanctions. The judge must also order the defendant to make restitution to any victims who have suffered any financial harm from the defendant’s actions.
13. Appeals in Michigan
There are three types of appeals that may occur during a criminal case in Michigan: (1) an interlocutory appeal; (2) appeal of right; and (3) appeal by leave of the court.
An interlocutory appeal occurs when a party tries to appeal a judge’s decision before the case goes to trial or before the trial is finished.
An appeal of right occurs after a jury trial in which the defendant is found guilty. The Michigan constitution has been amended to eliminate an appeal of right when a defendant pleads guilty.
An appeal by leave of the court occurs when an appeal of right is not available. This could occur when a defendant who pleads guilty does not like the sentence that was imposed. The appellate court has the discretion to reject the appeal or “grant leave” to allow the appeal.
If there is an appeal of right or the court allows an appeal by leave, both the defense and the prosecution must file legal arguments called “briefs” that summarize the case facts, frame the legal issues to be decided and present written arguments supported by prior law. These filings are usually anything but brief, as they may be twenty pages or more in length. Either party may request to make an oral argument to the appellate court.
The appellate court for misdemeanor cases is the Circuit Court. The initial appellate court for felony cases is the Court of Appeals. The Michigan Supreme Court may hear cases from the lower appellate courts, but most often is not required to do so.
The appellate court will eventually issue a written opinion if they all agree, or several written opinions if they disagree. The decision of the majority of the judges hearing the case is the accepted law in the case. For instance in a criminal case, if the defendant has appealed his conviction and/or sentence, the appellate court may affirm the trial court’s decision, reverse the trial court’s decision and send the case back to the trial court for a new trial, or may modify the trial court’s decision while keeping the conviction intact.
Assault and Battery Lawyer in Rochester Hills MI
If you are facing assault and battery charges in Michigan, you could be facing serious consequences — including jail time and fines. You risk your freedom and livelihood if you leave your fate to the mercy of the court. An experienced Michigan assault and battery lawyer can help you defend against these criminal charges before it’s too late. At Sumner & Associates, P.C., we work hard to protect you from aggressive prosecutors and will formulate a strong defense strategy in your behalf.
What Is Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery charges can be brought against you if you attempt or threaten physical harm (assault) that results in an actual contact such as hitting someone (battery).
These charges are usually categorized as a misdemeanor, expect in certain cases where the charge could be classified as a felony. If serious injury resulted from the contact, or the person has to seek medical treatment afterward, you could be facing aggravated assault charges.
Misdemeanor Assault and Battery
Most assault and battery cases result in misdemeanor charges. This means the incident did not result in actual harm to the victim, did not involve dangerous weapons, and was only intended to cause fear in a person as opposed to real harm.
Felony Assault and Battery
Assault and battery charges can be elevated to felony charges if the act was:
- Perpetrated with the intent to cause physical harm or kill;
- Performed with a dangerous weapon or intent to commit another felony; or
- Committed in the course of a kidnapping, robbery or other dangerous crime.
You may also be facing felony charges if the attack was carried out on certain groups of people, such as police officers, government employees, medical workers, or someone with whom you were in a dating relationship. Felony charges in such situations could involve a spouse or former spouse, an ex with whom you share a child, or someone you used to live with.
To learn more about the charges you are facing and whether they could be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, speak to an experienced Rochester Hills assault and battery lawyer.
What Are the Penalties for Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery is a serious crime that carries severe penalties. Punishment may vary depending on the who the victim is and whether or not you have prior offenses.
A first-time misdemeanor simple assault and battery conviction could result in:
- Up to 93 days in prison, up to $500 in fines, or both;
- Probation for up to two years; and
Aggravated assault and battery could lead to:
- Up to a year in prison, a $1000 fine, or both;
- Probation for up to two years; and
Two or more prior convictions for domestic assault and battery will make the next offense a felony, which carries a penalty of:
- Up to two years in jail, up to $5000 in fines, or both; or
- Probation for up to five years; and
Domestic Violence Lawyer in Rochester Hills MIDomestic violence charges bring serious penalties in Michigan. And in addition to fines, jail time, and restraining orders, a conviction could have far-reaching effects on your life, tarnishing your reputation and hindering your ability to find employment. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced Rochester Hills MI domestic violence lawyer help you fight the charges against you. At Sumner & Associates, P.C., we can inform you of your legal options as well as help you build a solid defense. To learn more about our criminal defense services. contact us today.
Domestic Violence Is a Form of Assault and BatteryUnder Michigan law, domestic violence is a form of assault and battery. Assault and battery involves someone putting another in fear of harm (assault) and ends in physical contact (battery). Domestic violence therefore involves committing assault and/or battery on the following:
- Your spouse or ex
- Someone with whom you are in a dating relationship
- Parent of your child
- Other family or household members.
Domestic Assault vs. Aggravated Domestic AssaultDomestic violence can take the form of two distinct charges:
- Domestic Assault: Does not require that the victim suffer physical injuries; and
- Aggravated Domestic Assault: Requires that the victim suffer serious injuries needing medical attention.
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?A first-time domestic assault conviction could result in up to 93 days in jail, up to $500 in fines, or both. A second conviction could land you in prison for up to one year, a fine of up to $1000, or both. Subsequent convictions will elevate the charge to a felony. Punishment could include up to two years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both, or five years’ probation. For aggravated domestic assault, you could face up to one year of prison, up to $1000 in fines, or both. A second conviction will be considered a felony. It will be punishable by up to two years in prison, up to $2500 in fines, or both. Stalking may result in up to one year of jail, up to $1000 in fines, or both. Aggravated stalking could impose up to five years of prison, up to $10,000 in fines, or both.
How Is Domestic Violence Treated Differently in Michigan?Michigan law treats domestic violence differently than it does other crimes. For example, the police can arrest you without a warrant for domestic assault. They simply need reasonable cause to believe you committed domestic violence. instead of having to actually witness the act, the police only need the testimony of a witness to have probable cause. As a result, an innocent person could easily be charged with domestic violence based solely on the accusations of a jealous or resentful partner. If you have been charged with domestic assault, a Rochester Hills MI criminal defense attorney can help. The sooner you can have an experienced attorney can step in to defend you, the more likely you are to avoid conviction and or severe penalties.
How Do I Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Michigan?A criminal record or conviction in Michigan can have life-changing effects. You might face incarceration, financial penalties, and difficulty getting work, education, or finding a place to live. Since so much is at stake, you should never attempt to handle your criminal defense alone. Hiring an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer in Michigan is the best way to ensure you are well represented. At your arraignment, the court might ask you if you need a public defender or court-appointed attorney. However, you should seriously consider hiring a private criminal defense attorney instead. When the court assigns a public defender, you do not get to choose your lawyer. While some court-appointed Michigan attorneys are strong litigators, you might receive someone with minimal experience who cannot properly defend you. When you contact a criminal defense lawyer, ask questions about their background and trial experience. Before you hire any lawyer or law firm, you should understand:
- How frequently they handle your type of criminal matter,
- How much time they typically spend with clients,
- The extent of their litigation experience (how often they go to trial),
- Their understanding of forensic and other technical evidence, and
- Their willingness to handle criminal appeals.
- Developing a customized defense strategy, based on your facts and circumstances,
- Educating you about your rights and options (allowing you to make the best possible decisions),
- Responding quickly to your calls and questions, and
- Providing emotional support and feedback during a stressful time.
Speak with a Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer TodayAn experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid jail time, fines, and other serious penalties. At Sumner & Associates, we provide tireless representation and compassionate advice to our clients. If you are facing criminal charges in Michigan, contact us immediately for a free consultation. We are members of the following legal associations:
- State Bar Association of Michigan
- Oakland County Bar Association
- Macomb County Bar Association
- Criminal Defense Services
- All Drug Crimes
- Gun & Weapon Crimes
- Computer Crimes
- Rape & Sexual Assault
- Burglary and Theft
- Shoplifting & Retail Fraud
- Fraud & Embezzlement Crimes
- Drunk Driving Cases OUIL / OWI 1st, 2nd or 3rd, plus
- Driving While License Suspended
- Zero Tolerance / Minor in Possession
- Reckless & Carless Driving
- Appeals to the Circuit Court or Secretary of State