Criminal Division

Your Rights
Your rights are very important. Make sure to go over your rights several times so you understand what they are, what they mean, and how they will apply to your current situation. The rights are specified below. 

The Basics
Right to Trial: You have the right to trial by a jury or judge.
Right to Attorney: You have the right to an attorney. You may apply for a court appointed attorney if you cannot afford one. The District judge will determine if you qualify:
  • If you are indigent, and
  • The offense charged requires minimum jail sentence or the court determines that might sentence you to jail.

NOTE: If an attorney  is appointed at the public expense, you may have to repay that expense.

You may plead in one of four ways:
  1. guilty,
  2. not guilty,
  3. stand mute, or
  4. no contest.

Standing Mute: If you stand mute, the court will enter a plea of not guilty.
No Contest: To plead no contest, you must have permission of the court. The court will give permission if you have no memory of the incident or if there is a possibility of civil liability. 

An arraignment is a court proceeding at the beginning of the criminal process. At an arraignment, the court will advise you of:

  • Your rights,
  • The charges being brought against you, and
  • The penalties you will face if you plead guilty or are found guilty of the charges.

Please bring money in with you at the time of your plea and sentencing to be prepared for paying fines and costs.

An expungement is simply setting aside a conviction. The expungement, when approved, will make the conviction nonpublic. For more information, instructions and forms, please go to Michigan Legal Help. That page also lists the offenses that cannot be expunged.

You must wait at least five years after whichever of the following happens last:

  • The date you were convicted
  • The date you completed probation
  • The date you were discharged from parole, or
  • The date you were released from incarceration.

Not all of these events may apply to you. You might not have been incarcerated, or you might not have been placed on probation or paroled. Whichever of these events do apply to you, you must wait five years after the last event happens before you can file your application. These restrictions don’t apply to certain convictions that happened while you were a victim of human trafficking. Visit Michigan Legal Help for more information.