Facing Felony Charges – Gerald R Stahl is Grand Rapids Most Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
What are Felony Charges?
Felonies are the most serious of crimes. A felony conviction may follow a person by criminal record and reputation for a lifetime. A felony arraignment in Michigan is held in the District Court. At the arraignment the Judge reads the charges and sets the defendants bond. The Judge will also schedule the preliminary examination.
A defendant in a felony case has the right to a Preliminary Examination within 14 days of his arraignment. A pre-exam conference may also be scheduled in some courts to allow the prosecutor and defense attorney an opportunity to review evidence and discuss the case before witnesses are subpoenaed.
At the Preliminary examination in Michigan District Courts hearing, the Prosecutor must prove the crime was committed, and there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed it. This evidence standard is much less than required at a trial. There is no set amount of witnesses the prosecutor is required to call. A defendant may also waive his right to a preliminary examination.
In most cases, the State prevails at the Preliminary Examination. This is because there is a probable cause hearing and the State is not required to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt as they must do to gain a conviction later at trial. However, the evidence presented at the Preliminary Examination usually allows a skilled defense attorney an important window of discovery into the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case.
Unless the case is dismissed at the preliminary examination, the case proceeds to the Michigan Circuit Court where the defendant is again arraigned and the case is assigned to a Circuit Judge. At the arraignment the Judge will read the charging document called a felony information. The Circuit Judge then will schedule deadlines for the attorneys set a pretrial date. A pretrial is where the Prosecutor and Defense attorney discuss the case and evidence in order to attempt to plea bargain. If no plea bargain can be reached the case proceeds to trial. Gerald R Stahl has represented people charged with felonies throughout Western Michigan for over 30 years.
Michigan Felony Sentencing Guidelines
In Michigan, all offenses designated as felonies are subject to sentencing guidelines. Guidelines are used by the Judge to determine the defendant’s eventual sentence. Thus, the scoring of the guidelines is crucial at sentencing.
In order to score under the guidelines, several factors must be considered. The proper crime group is applied. The prior record of the defendant is scored. Different points are given depending on the severity of the defendant’s prior crimes.
The guidelines also consider Offense Variable Scores. Offense Variables include such factors as use of a weapon, injuries to victims, ring leadership, and the number of victims. Guidelines are normally scored by Court Pre-Sentence Officers and reviewed for accuracy by the defense attorney and the Judge. There are numerous other factors that are used to decide a final score under the guidelines.
Judges still have the final say in Michigan as to the sentence a defendant will receive for the commission of a felony. In some instances a victim will speak at the sentencing in an attempt to influence the Court’s decision.
Habitual Felony Offenders
In Michigan, habitual offenders are subject to sentence enhancement. This can have a harsh result for a repeat offender. The enhancements are as follows:
- 2nd Offense Habitual Offender – increase upper limit by 25%
- 3rd Offense Habitual Offender – increase upper limit by 50%
- 4th Offense Habitual Offender – increase upper limit by 100%
If You Have Been Charged with a Felony – “Better Call Stahl”
If you are charged with a felony in Western Michigan you deserve the best criminal defense lawyer in the area, Gerald R Stahl. Gerald R Stahl has been helping people fight for their rights in Kent, Ottawa, Allegan, Barry and Newaygo Counties for over 30 years. Gerald R Stahl is conveniently located in Grand Rapids on East Beltline near Knapp’s Corner and the 63rd District Court.
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