Understanding of Criminal law: Rights & Duties
A misdemeanor is a crime for which the maximum punishment is one year in county jail. Put simply, misdemeanor offenses do not carry the threat of prison. They range from low-level misdemeanors (trespass, retail fraud) to crimes of violence (domestic violence, aggravated assault). Generally, you will either be arrested for a misdemeanor or sent a notice to appear at district court.
On misdemeanor offenses, there is no preliminary examination; so many times the prosecution will proceed on the basis of the police report alone. This can be extraordinarily frustrating, especially if you believe the report is false or misleading. Your attorney may be the only person fighting for your position. If you have been sent a notice to appear, investigated or arrested for a misdemeanor, our office will be glad to help.
In Michigan, a felony is defined as a crime for which the potential punishment carries greater than one year in county jail. Felonies can be capital in nature (i.e., life imprisonment), can carry a statutory maximum in prison (i.e., 10 years), or can function as a “high-court misdemeanor” (i.e., 2 year maximum). If you are charged with a felony, your case will begin with an arraignment—which is held either in jail or via a “self-surrender.” Then, you are entitled to a preliminary examination, where the prosecutor is required to prove your guilt to send your case to trial.
Whether you’ve been charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor the Law Office of Anthony Delle Pelle is dedicated to helping you through this stressful time.
What to do if you are stopped by police:
– You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
– You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.
– If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
– You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.
– Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.
– Do stay calm and be polite. – Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
– Do not lie or give false documents.
– Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
– Do remember the details of the encounter.
– Do file a written complaint or call your attorney if you feel your rights have been violated.
IF YOU ARE STOPPED FOR QUESTIONING
Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.
You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect you later in court.
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED
Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately.
You have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.
If an FBI agent comes to your home or workplace, you do not have to answer any questions. Tell the agent you want to speak to a lawyer first.