A felony charge is a life-changing event. With so much at stake, knowledge is power. Arrested for a serious crime? The sooner you speak to an Ann Arbor felony lawyer, the better.What is a Felony in Michigan?
A felony is a crime that is punishable by over one year in prison. A felony is more severe than a misdemeanor, which is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail.
Common felonies include:
Felonies are classified by the maximum punishment a person could receive with a conviction. For example, the felony of carrying a concealed weapon is punishable by up to five years in prison. The crime home invasion first-degree is punishable by up to twenty years in prison.Felony Sentencing in Michigan
What punishment could you receive if convicted of a felony? The answer depends on many factors. A possible sentence could be probation, jail, or prison time, or a combination of jail and then probation.
The possible sentence depends on the person’s prior criminal history and the details of the crime charged.
A person going to prison will receive a minimum sentence and a maximum sentence. The earliest release date from prison would be the minimum sentence. A person not released at the earliest opportunity would be eligible for parole at periodic points before reaching the maximum sentence.Plea Bargain Resolution With the Help of Your Ann Arbor Felony Lawyer
The case may resolve with a plea bargain before trial. A plea bargain is where a person admits guilt in exchange for a benefit in return. The three most commonly used plea bargain agreements are:
- Reduction of charges: A person might plead guilty in exchange for a reduction in the severity of the charges. Let’s say a person charged with home invasion first-degree might pleads guilty to home invasion third-degree. This would change the severity of the crime charged from a twenty-year felony to a five-year felony.
- Killibrew Agreement: an agreement with the prosecutor that the defendant will receive a particular sentence.
- Cobbs Agreement: In many cases, you can ask the judge to tell us what the sentence will be if you plead guilty. The judge is then bound to sentence you to whatever sentence the judge described. You may withdraw your plea if the judge later changes his or her mind.
A favorable plea bargain in felony cases is a deal where the felony is dismissed and the person pleads to a misdemeanor offense. This could keep the case away from circuit court in the first place. A plea to a misdemeanor would eliminate the possibility of prison time.A Trial Where Your Ann Arbor Felony Lawyer Will Fight for You
At trial, the prosecution must prove a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt to prevail. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
- A jury trial in circuit court: a jury of 12 people will decide your case.
- Misdemeanor trial: a jury of 6 people will decide your case.
The choice of going to trial is entirely in the hands of the defendant. The defense attorney does not make this decision. The defendant must make a choice to plea or go to trial. Your Ann Arbor felony lawyer’s job is to provide the defendant with all the necessary information to make this decision, and then to carry out the defendant’s decision. A complete win at trial means you walk away. A loss at trial means there will be a sentencing hearing.An Ann Arbor Felony Lawyer Will Make the Difference During Sentencing
Following a loss, at trial or a plea bargain, there will be a sentencing hearing. A sentencing hearing is where the judge will tell you what the punishment will be. The Felony Sentencing Guidelines determine the potential penalty. A possible sentence could be probation, jail, or prison time, or a combination of jail and then probation.
Two factors are going into felony sentencing guidelines. The two elements are a person’s prior criminal history and the details of the crime charged.
- A person going to prison will receive a minimum sentence and a maximum sentence. The earliest release date from prison would be the minimum sentence. A person not released at the earliest opportunity would be eligible for parole at periodic points before reaching the maximum sentence.
- There are sentencing considerations based on whether sentencing comes after a plea bargain or trial. Felony sentencing is complicated. Consultation with an attorney is necessary to determine the appropriate guidelines at the outset of the case.
At the sentencing hearing, two things will happen.
- You and your criminal defense attorney have a chance to address the judge. This is a chance to present the judge with any mitigating circumstances or apologize to anyone hurt from your actions. Sometimes a defendant is in the position where the outcome at sentencing is unknown. The words to the judge can make a difference.
- The judge will want to know if any changes are necessary to the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report prepared for sentencing. The PSI is a document prepared for the judge which contains information about you, your background, and the offense. The attorney must correct any errors, especially in the scoring of the sentencing guidelines.
Most criminal defendants in Michigan are entitled to pre-trial release, but their release is conditioned upon a promise to return for trial. In a felony case, a judge will determine whether you qualify for bail and what the bail amount should be. There are four types of bonds in Michigan:
- A personal recognizance bond: You are released upon making a promise that you will return to court.
- A cash bond: The court orders you to pay a specific amount in cash to be released.
- A 10 percent bond: The court accepts 10% of the full bond amount; if you do not return, you will be required to pay the remaining 90%.
- A surety bond: An approved bondsman agrees to pay your bond if you fail to return to court. This requires going to a bail bondsman who will charge you 10% of the bail amount as their fee.
To be released, you must pay the bail amount set by the judge. An Ann Arbor felony lawyer can help you get released on your own recognizance, or at least make sure that the judge sets a reasonable bail amount.What Happens During Probation?
Probation is an alternative to incarceration in a felony case. Probation may be ordered instead of jail time or as part of a reduced sentence. It is also important to note that you are not entitled to probation and that the prosecution and the judge are under no obligation to offer it to you. That said, an Ann Arbor felony lawyer may be able to help you avoid jail or reduce your sentence by arguing that probation would be appropriate in your case.
If you are put on probation as a part of your sentence, you will be assigned to a probation officer who is responsible for ensuring that you are complying with the terms of your probation. You will have to regularly meet with your probation officer, and missing an appointment will be considered a probation violation. If you are found to have violated the terms of your probation, your probation could be revoked, and you could face prison and additional penalties.What are the Consequences of a Felony Conviction?
The penalties you face will depend on the nature of your offense, your criminal history, and other circumstances surrounding your case. Most people are often focused on the potential prison sentence or fines, but other significant consequences may result from a conviction:
- Loss of employment opportunities
- Loss of reputation
- Difficulty finding a place to live
- Immigration problems
- Difficulty qualifying for student loans and other public benefits
You could be dealing with the fall out of your conviction for years after you’ve served your sentence. An experienced Ann Arbor felony lawyer should understand that there’s more to a potential conviction than prison or fines and will fight to make sure you get a fair result.Contact Us to Speak With an Experienced Ann Arbor Felony Lawyer
Contact us to set up an initial consultation in which we will discuss your case and the law in a straightforward manner. Call, Ann Arbor felony lawyer Sam Bernstein at (734) 883-9584 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.