Here is a play-by-play of what you might expect if you are facing assault and battery charges in Michigan . . .
You are out enjoying drinks, dinner and dancing at a local bar with some friends. One of your friends exchanges words with another person, and before you know it, you’re involved in a fight. The police arrive. They talk to you, and tell you that you are free to go home. You figure you’re off the hook, until you receive paperwork from the local Michigan District Court, stating that you have been charged with assault and battery.
Realizing that under Michigan law, assault and battery charges mean that you could face 3 months in Jail, you call our Law Office. We arrange for your Free Consultation and Case Evaluation the following afternoon. When you arrive, you bring all Court papers as we asked you to. I sit down next to you and briefly look over your Court papers, noting the date and time scheduled for your Arraignment. I listen to your story for almost an hour, interrupting to ask questions as necessary. At the end, I explain the Court procedures that you will undergo, we develop a custom-tailored case plan for you. You decide to retain us as your criminal defense attorney. I shake your hand and tell you not to think about your case; I tell you just to relax and to get a good night’s sleep.
Some time passes, and you and I meet at the District Court early in the morning for your Arraignment. My Appearance as your criminal defense lawyer is already on file, so I file and serve a Discovery Demand, requiring the prosecutor to give me any police reports, videos, statements, or other evidence to review. I speak briefly with the prosecuting attorney, and we discuss the possibility of reaching a deal where you have no Jail time and no conviction; you’d just have to be on probation for a while and as long as you did well, the whole case would be dismissed.
I tell the prosecutor that I will review the evidence with you, and that you and I will discuss it. When your case is called, you and I walk up to the podium, and I announce our presence. I tell the Judge that we will “waive a formal reading of the charges, and with his approval, stand you mute.” You don’t say a word the whole time. I tell the Judge that you promise to come back to every Court date, and that you are not a dangerous person. The Judge allows you to leave without paying any money for bond, but says that you cannot have contact with any of your accusers. I have already told you about this requirement.
After I receive the evidence from the prosecutor and review it in detail, I arrange to have another face-to-face meeting at my office. As you arrive, you are curious to know what is contained in the evidence. Thinking back on the incident, you don’t feel that you did anything morally “wrong,” but you just feel unsure about a few things. I remind you that it’s the government’s job to prove you guilty of assault and battery beyond a reasonable doubt – not our job to prove you innocent of assault and battery.
To be continued . . .