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Birmingham Felony DUI Case Process 

The Birmingham felony DUI case process itself is similar to the misdemeanor case process but different in a few key areas. In a misdemeanor case, there is an arraignment, followed by a series of pre-trials, followed by a trial. In a felony case, there is an added layer of investigation and of findings. If you have been charged with a felony DUI and need help navigating the case process, consult a skilled felony DUI attorney that can help.

Arraignments

The felony case process starts at a misdemeanor-level court, even though it is a felony charge. At the district court, the case would be heard first by having an arraignment and then, based upon the arraignment date, there are a series of timelines that must be accomplished within 14 days of that arraignment. Initially, there is a probable cause conference, in which there is an attempt to negotiate some resolution with the prosecutor.

Preliminary Examination

If the probable cause conference does not work, within 21 days of the arraignment, there is a preliminary examination. Most people are familiar with the idea of a grand jury where a group of citizens determines whether or not probable cause exists that someone committed a crime. Yet, instead of using that system, the state of Michigan uses the district court and the preliminary examination to accomplish that.

There is the probable cause conference and then, at the preliminary exam, if the person decides to hold a preliminary exam, there will be a hearing to determine, by probable cause standard, whether a crime has been committed and whether the defendant, by probable cause standard, committed it. At that hearing, police officers will testify about the facts of the case and the judge makes a determination, not to the full merits of the case, but only to whether or not the threshold of probable cause has been met.

At that point in the Birmingham felony DUI case process, it is bound over to the circuit court which is a higher-level court in the State of Michigan. The circuit court then has jurisdiction and the district court is no longer involved in the case.

Circuit Court and Second Arraignments

At the circuit court, there will be a second arraignment, this time on what is called an information. The difference between an information and the original charging document called the complaint, is simply that an information has passed that probable cause threshold either by having a preliminary examination or by waiving the preliminary examination and not challenging the fact that probable cause exists.

Additionally, after the arraignment, there is a series of pre-trials followed by a trial. In the State of Michigan, misdemeanor courts have a jury of six. However, felonies have a jury of 12.

The one negative thing is that because a normal drunk driving trial has only 6 people, then sometimes people can figure out it is a felony case. Although during a case, generally, the courts will not allow the prosecutor or police officers to reference the third offense or more.

Sentencing Guidelines

With the Birmingham felony DUI case process, one of the big things to understand is the sentencing guidelines. In Michigan, the guidelines have become advisory, meaning that the guidelines suggest a certain range of time based on what happened at that incident, taking into account their past and their connection with the criminal justice system.

It is the hope of these guidelines to lead to less discrimination-based sentences.  However, at the same time, different judges do treat them differently.

Due to the severity of the sentencing guidelines, the penalties are much more severe as well. A felony is a charge that can include prison time. In fact, in order to be a felony, it must have the ability to be a prison term. A felony in Michigan is anything for which someone could face jail time for longer than one year.

Other Collateral Issues

Additionally, with a felony comes other collateral issues, for instance, a person is not allowed to vote and they are not allowed to own firearms. Being a felon makes it so that someone cannot do certain activities like obtain a loan. Being a felon, in general, is a very big detractor to a lot of employment opportunities and it can severely complicate daily life.

Additionally, the police can take DNA from anyone who is a felon and they can run that against a database to see if there are links to any other crimes, and then they store that information.

Protections

Still, because the Birmingham felony DUI case process is so important, there is also an added layer of protection. When it comes to a felony, someone has a lot more in the way of protection of their rights than with a misdemeanor, which, because of the less-severe penalties, is considered as a lesser crime with lesser rights attached to it. If an individual wants to know more about the DUI case process, they should consult a knowledgeable attorney that can help.