It is important for a person to understand what to expect from a lawyer so that they can have a better understanding of the process their case will go through as well as the various ways the help of an experienced drug attorney can beneficially impact their case and, ultimately, their future.
When a person is charged with a drug crime in Michigan, the first thing that will happen is that the police will question the person, in which case they should assert their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent at that time. Once the accused has been charged, the first court hearing is called an “arraignment,” which is when they will be brought in front of the court to be advised of what the charges are and what the potential penalties for those charges might be. During the arraignment is when the bond would be scheduled.
There are two parts to the bond involved in drug charges: the money part, which is intended to assure future court appearances, and the conditions added to the bond, which are intended to keep the community safe while the person awaiting trial is on bond. With drug crimes, there are often high bond amounts. It is, therefore, very important for a person charged with a drug crime to hire an attorney right away so they don’t end up with an outrageous bond.
With a drug charge, bonds are higher than they would be for other types of crimes, especially if it involves delivery because the idea is that a person who has been involved in drug trafficking probably has more resources to pay cash or assets to hire a bondsman. Additionally, many people believe a person involved in the drug trade have more of an incentive to leave the jurisdiction of the court, so bonds tend to be higher for that reason as well.
Once the case gets into the system and the person has been arraigned, then there would be a series of pre-trials and, eventually, if it is warranted under the circumstances, there would be a trial. At the pre-trials, the case would be looked at by the prosecutor, by the defense attorney and, sometimes, by the judge. Certain decisions would then be made including whether the case should move on to trial and whether it could be resolved without a trial. In this case, there may be some plea bargaining where the crime charged would be reduced, or where other crimes charged would be dropped, all in exchange for a plea of guilty.
Another thing addressed at the pre-trial phase is whether there might be any legal issues that need to be brought to the court’s attention before the case can move forward. Therefore, if there are any search and seizures issues or any issues about violations of the Fifth Amendment, then those issues will be brought during the pre-trial process.
If a person decides to wait until after the arraignment to hire an attorney, they could end up with a much higher bond or more onerous bond conditions than are necessary. Another possibility is the person will have a court-appointed attorney at the very beginning of their case and become dissatisfied, later wanting to retain an attorney. The more time that has passed between the initial police contact and the time the lawyer is retained, the more likely it is that a strong defense will be lost altogether.