Criminal Defense Law Center
West Michigan

If you or someone you know's been arrested, read this article

Just Arrested?

Getting arrested for a felony or misdemeanor charge in Michigan is certainly a scary event. If you happen to be reading this, it is likely that you have been arrested recently or a loved one or someone you know has been arrested. Perhaps, this person is sitting in jail at the moment. Without a doubt, you are feeling a strong sense of uncertainty and want answers! A person who has just been arrested has a lot of questions that they want answered right away! Common questions we get asked by people who have just recently been charged with a crime are:

  1. What should I do next?
  2. Do I need a bail bondsman?
  3. Should I hire a lawyer?
  4. Am I going to jail?
  5. Am I going to prison?
  6. Will I lose my job?
  7. Will I lose my driver’s license?

What To Do Next?

Once you have been arrested, make sure you know exactly why you have been arrested. If you are not sure, politely ask the police officer what you were arrested for. Never argue with an officer or resist. You are only asking for additional charges to be filed against you if you resist arrest or disrespect law enforcement. You want the police report to say you cooperated during your arrest. While you may not face additional charges for swearing at an officer, it will probably be noted in the police report that you were disrespectful. Local prosecutor’s take this into consideration when looking over police reports and deciding want kind of plea offer, they will offer a defendant to try to settle the case short of trial.

Do not talk to anyone about your case and do not talk to law enforcement about your case! Exercise your right to remain silent. During your arrest, the law enforcement officer will take away your property. This is done for their protection and for the safekeeping of your items. The property you have will be identified, then sorted out on an evidence sheet. You will be given the chance to look over the sheet. This allows you to make sure it is accurate. You will eventually be given your property back, but any item that can be used against you at court or that is illegally in your possession will be used against you and used against you.  If you have a fake id on you, or a small amount of an illegal narcotic in your possession when arrested, you are almost certainly going to face additional charges.

Do I Need A Bail Bondsman?

It depends on a lot of different factors. If you are facing a misdemeanor charge and you have no criminal record or only a small criminal record, you will likely be given a personal recognizance bond. This is a bond where you do not have to pay any money to released from jail or to stay out of jail between court dates. If you are not given a personal recognizance bond, you will likely be given a small bond that only requires you to come up with a hundred dollars or maybe five-hundred dollars. If you do not have access to that small amount of cash because you got arrested on the weekend and your bank is closed, then you might need a bail bondsman.  After you post your bond, it may take several hours for the jail to process you and release you. You will be given a chance to call someone to pick you up and take you home after you post your bond.

If you are facing a DUI, and you have other prior OWI related convictions and/or a bad criminal history, you could be facing a bond that is as high as $10,000. In these cases, it is more likely you will need to use a bail bondsman.

If you are charged with a felony, the amount of money required to post a bond goes way up! Smaller felony charges usually require people to come up with at least $500 to post bond. If you are facing a small felony charge, one that has a maximum of 4 years in prison, but have a bad record, your bond could be $5,000 to $10,000 dollars. If you are facing a serious felony, such as criminal sexual conduct, you could be given no bond or bond that ranges anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000. The more prior criminal convictions you have, the higher your bond will be for felony charges as well.

Types of Bonds In Michigan

The bail amount a person is ordered to pay is supposed to be an amount that is not excessive. However, as mentioned above this amount can be staggeringly high. There are many courts in West Michigan that have bail set ahead of time so you know what you will be required to pay up front.

The most common way a person posts bond is by getting a “surety bond” through a bondsman. Under this type of bond, a family member, friend of the defendant will pay the bail bondsman a fee. The bondsman than promises the court that the accused does not show up to court the bondsman will pay for the full amount of the bail.  The fee defendants pay for this “surety bond” is usually around ten percent. The ten percent fee is non-refundable. Under these types of bonds, the defendant is usually required to have collateral as insurance in case the accused fails to show up for court. If the defendant does not show up, a bounty hunter is many times sent out to chase down the person who failed to show up for court.

A ten percent bond allows the accused to pay the court a ten percent cash bond. Usually those payments can be made directly to the court. This allows a person to avoid losing their ten percent fee to the bail bondsman. If the defendant is convicted of a crime at trial or enter a plea deal, the ten percent cash bond is applied to court fines and costs.  

In cases where a defendant is considered a high flight risk or a danger to society, a full cash bond maybe required. The defendant must pay the full amount of the bond before they will be released from jail pending their trial.

In rare cases, a person may use real property for a bond. An example of this would be the defendant using the value of their home to post the bond. If the accused fails to show up, the state of Michigan will then be allowed to take over the house.

If you are looking for a bail bondsman, where are some companies that I recommend using:

Am I Going To Jail?

There are numerous factors that contribute to the likely hood of a person being sentenced to jail. It depends on the charges you are convicted of, your prior record and if you have an expertly trained criminal defense attorney by your side. For example, if you are convicted of a first offense drunk driving charge, it is not likely you will go to jail if you have no prior drunk driving convictions on your record. If you get a second OWI, it is very likely you will do jail time. However, if you have numerous prior misdemeanor convictions on your record and/or felony convictions, you can do jail time for a first offense dui.

What judge you are in front of also increases the likely hood of you going jail. Judge Mark Trusock in Kent County gives out 90-day jail sentences on a regular basis if the defendant has no prior record. Judge Michael Schipper in Barry County gives a weekend in jail for people who get convicted for any first offense drunk driving charge.

Having a lawyer who knows how to work out a good plea deal through skillful negotiation can also keep you from going to jail. I have worked out numerous plea deals that have kept my clients out of potential jail sentences.

Am I Going To Prison?

If you are convicted for a rape or being in possession of child pornography, the likely hood of you going to prison is high. The guidelines for any kind of sexual offense in Michigan almost always call for a term of prison. If you do not have a bad prior record and are only facing a felony charge of four years, it is very unlikely that you will face prison time. The factors discussed under am I going to jail also apply to this part of the blog.  

Will I Lose My Job?

Under Michigan law, employers are not allowed to ask about misdemeanor arrests that do not lead to a conviction. These employers are allowed to talk to you about convictions for a misdemeanor charge and convictions and arrests for felonies.

Under the current law in Michigan, the state’s department of Civil Rights has issued Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide, this guide gives employers guidance on hiring and the types of questions that can be asked about prior arrests and convictions.  This report plainly states that an employer is not allowed to have a blanket policy of never hiring anyone who has a criminal conviction.

Will I Lose My Driver’s License?

If you get a drunk driving conviction your license will be suspended for a sort period of time and restricted after the suspension is over. If you get second dui, you license will be suspended for a year. If you get a third OWI conviction on your record, you will have your license revoked for a year and in reality, it will be for much longer than one year.  If get in trouble for drug possession, you can also get your license.

Act on this information if you have been recently arrested. Call Shawn now at 616-438-6719. Shawn knows how to get you the best results possible and will not rest until he does so. Waiting will not help you and can make things worse! The call is free, so call now!

Should I Hire A Lawyer?

Yes, only a skilled criminal defense attorney can get you the best results possible. You maybe guilty of nothing at all or of a lesser charge. You maybe facing more charges than what you should have been charged with. Prosecutors love to hammer defendants with every possible charge they can make up when they read over police report, not matter how skimpy the evidence is! Of course, if you have not been properly trained in the law and have not handled numerous cases, you would not know what makes up a strong case.

I have witnessed numerous people go to jail, end up with a criminal record or plea guilty to more serious charges because they did not hire an attorney! It is never in your best interest to just plea guilty at your arraignment to get things over with! The Michigan criminal justice system is based on negotiation. The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan has skilled attorneys that know how to negotiate the best deals possible!

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