The simplest of all tickets are civil infractions. Civil infractions do not carry the possibility of any jail time, yet if not properly handled, they can lead to the loss of your driver’s license, substantial fines, and hundreds to thousands of dollars in increased car insurance costs. Examples of civil infractions include speeding, careless driving, loud exhaust, etc. It is often possible that a skilled attorney can prevent these tickets from ever appearing on your driving and insurance records.
Misdemeanors & Felonies
Any arrest that carries with it the possibility of jail time is either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors are crimes that carry the possibility of up to one (1) year in jail. Examples of misdemeanors include assault and battery, drunk driving first or second offense, domestic violence, and possession of marijuana. Felonies are crimes that carry the possibility of anywhere from one (1) year in prison to life in prison. Examples of felonies include murder, rape (called criminal sexual conduct in Michigan), drunk driving third offense, assault with a dangerous weapon, and possession of cocaine. If you are under the age of 17, the Juvenile Court will normally handle the misdemeanor or felony charge, which then carries a penalty ranging from a fine up to detention in a youth home that could extend for years, with possible placement in a state facility.
Any arrest that carries with it the possibility of jail time is either a misdemeanor or a felony.
It is crucial to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible after the arrest or ticket. The longer the delay between an arrest and hiring an attorney, the greater the chance of lost evidence and unwise statements being made to the police. In some jurisdictions the police are required to keep video evidence no more than thirty (30) days. As such, crucial evidence may be destroyed if you are hesitant to hire an attorney to prove your innocence.
After an arrest, your attorney should immediately request all evidence and police reports to review with you. Such reports, called “discovery,” are crucial in preparing to handle your case. Shortly after obtaining discovery, the Court will schedule a conference before trial during which your lawyer, who now knows the strengths and/or weaknesses of your case, can negotiate with the prosecutor. Often, a deal is struck (referred to as a plea bargain) wherein a suspect will plead guilty to a lesser charge with lesser penalties to avoid the more serious consequences of the original charge. If a plea bargain is made, then the case would proceed to sentencing. If the suspect, the suspect’s attorney, and the prosecutor are unable to arrive at an agreement, the case will be set for trial.