Pled Guilty or Not Guilty. You should plead not guilty. You have a lawyer or request a court appointed lawyer. Not guilty is the only way to get a plea bargain. However, if you plead guilty go to Step #4.
Step #2 Pre Trial
If you plead not guilty, the next step is the pretrial. The pretrial conference is opportunity for your attorney to discuss the case in private with the prosecutor. The purpose is to review the evidence and discuss and review the strengths and flaws in the case. It is your attorney's chance to convince the prosecutor to dismiss or reduce the charge.
Step #3 Plea Bargain
Your attorney works a plea deal based on his advocacy. Then a plea date is set and you go in front of the judge and admit the offense. You appear in court and waive your constitutional rights based on the agreement.
Step #4 Pre sentence Report
Once you plead to the agreed charge, you are then sent to probation for a pre sentence report. This is where a social worker from the court asks questions about your past, work history, and family. Then they may order an assessment. It is normally required required on drunk driving convictions. However, in many instances you will be sentenced at the plea. Then look to Step #5.
Step #5 Sentencing
At the sentencing the Judge is armed with the pre sentence report. In misdemeanors, judges normally follow the recommendation of the pre sentence investigator. However, they do not have to follow the recommendation. The judge has the authority to sentence within the statutory maximums. Possible sentences include fines and costs, probation, jail, community service and counseling, victim impact panel and restitution. This all depends on what charge you were plead guilty.
Step #6 Jury Trial
If you cannot agree on a plea bargain, then your case will be set for trial. You have many rights at trial and preparation is key. Your attorney will call witnesses and present evidence. If you are found guilty, go to step #4. If found not guilty, you go home and case is over forever.
Additional resources provided by the author
United States Constitution, Michigan Constitution, Michigan Law on line,.
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