You must appear for an arraignment all misdemeanor cases except for some traffic misdemeanor cases. For a list of the traffic cases where no arraignment is required, see the Traffic Division.
Arraignments are held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. If you were issued a citation, you must appear within 4-10 calendar days from the date you received the ticket or a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
The arraignment is your first court appearance. The Judge will tell you the charge or charges against you and what can happen to you as a result of these charges. You will be informed of your rights. At arraignment, you have four options:
You may plead guilty. If you do this, you will be sentenced or referred to the probation department where you will be interviewed for a report for the Judge to consider at sentencing.
You may plead not guilty. If you do this your case will be scheduled for your next court appearance, which is a pretrial.
You can say nothing, which is known as standing "mute." This will be treated the same as a guilty plea listed in #1 above.
You can plead no contest. This will be treated the same as a not guilty plea listed in #2 above.
If you are required to come back for another court date, the judge will set your bail at the arraignment.
The Court will accept a written Waiver of Arraignment (PDF) on some misdemeanor charges. The waiver must state the maximum penalties for the offense, the defendant's rights and be signed by the defendant in front of a notary or the defendant must take any oath from court staff. A waiver of arraignment cannot be filed for:
Cases with an outstanding warrant
Riot / Civil Disturbance cases
Minors in Possession
Any alcohol charge
Any assault charge
Except as otherwise provided by law, a person accused of a criminal offense is entitled to a bond/bail. When a judge sets the bond, he/she considers and makes a finding on the court record as to: the seriousness of the offense charged, the protection of the public, the previous criminal record and the probability or improbability of the person accused appearing for future court dates.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, you have the right to have an attorney. You may hire an attorney at your own expense, or if you are unable to afford an attorney the court may appoint one on your behalf if the court determines that it might sentence you to jail. You may be required to reimburse the court for some or all of the expense of your court-appointed attorney.
If you want to apply for a court-appointed attorney, you must fill out the Petition for Court Appointed Attorney form (PDF). You can either come to the Counter / Payment windows at the court or print the form, complete the form, have it notarized and return it to the court. It will take a few days to process your request.
MSU students may be represented by ASMSU Student Legal Services at no cost. If you are an MSU student, you should contact ASMSU Student Legal Services at (517) 353-3716.
If you have entered a plea of not guilty or mute at your arraignment, your case will be set for a pretrial conference. At the pretrial conference you, and your attorney if you have one, will meet with the assistant prosecutor or assistant city attorney. If any plea agreements are reached, you may appear before the judge that same day to enter your plea. If a plea agreement is not reached, the matter will either be re-scheduled for the next court date.
Jury selection is held once per month, usually the second Tuesday of each month. On jury selection day many different juries may be selected for later jury trial dates. Jurors are summoned to appear in the afternoon only. If you are certain that you are selecting a jury, call the Criminal Division at (517) 336-8630 to get a trial date. Pleas to reduced charges must be entered the Monday before jury selection at your scheduled time, or the written plea sheet must be dated, signed and filed by Monday at 4 p.m. Pleas to reduced charges will not be accepted on the morning of jury selection unless a written plea sheet has been filed on Monday. Acceptance of these written pleas on the record, pleas to the charge and waivers of jury trials will be entered by both judges on the morning of jury selection.
If you are found guilty or plead guilty, you will appear before the judge to be sentenced. You will likely be sentenced to pay fines and costs. You must pay those on your date of sentencing.