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Your Detroit Criminal Case: The Basics

You made a mistake and now you are paying the ultimate price. Facing a criminal case in Detroit can be a terrifying experience, particularly if this is your first time in the system. You're trying to find any legal information you can, but nothing seems to make sense. Isn't there someone you can turn to?

At FindLaw we understand how stressful it is when you or a loved one is arrested and facing criminal charges. Here's some basic information you will want to become familiar with if you are facing a felony or misdemeanor in Detroit.

Getting Arrested in Detroit

If you've been arrested in Detroit, it's likely been by one of the following agencies the Detroit Police Department, the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, or the Michigan State Police.

The police believe they have probable cause to arrest you for a misdemeanor and/or a felony. The officer either personally witnessed a crime or a witness it reported. The cop might have a warrant, but they don't always need one. You'll be arrested and read your Miranda rights.

Your Constitutional Rights

When the police arrest you, they are required to follow a certain set of rules or their actions could jeopardize the Wayne County district attorney's case against you. You have a certain group of criminal rights, such as your Miranda rights, the right against illegal searches and seizures, and your right to have a lawyer present during questioning.

How to Post Bail

If you or someone you know was arrested and in custody, they are likely at the Wayne County Jail. If you are trying to find an inmate, click here.

After being arrested, you or a loved one will have be booked and either released with a promise to appear at a later date or you have to post a bond.

You can post a criminal bond at the 36th District Courthouse Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. At all other times, you can post bond at the Wayne County Jail.

Where Can I Get a Lawyer?

There's two ways top get legal representation in Detroit. You can hire a Detroit criminal defense lawyer or ask for the state defender.

Michigan Criminal Laws and Penalties

Michigan's Penal Code is expansive. Let's be honest. Most people don't want to read through all that legal jargon, but the Code can be found online.

Criminal offenses are broken down into the following categories, ranked from most serious to less serious:

Felonies in Michigan

Felonies are serious crimes that carry lengthy sentences. Ultimately the judge will decide how to sentence you, but he or she must follow a particular set of guidelines (PDF).

Class A felonies carry the highest penalties, either life in prison or death.

Class H felonies are the least serious type. You'll either be sentenced to jail or incarceration alternatives such as probation, treatment or electronic monitoring.

Examples of Michigan felonies include as arson, burglary, armed robbery, fraud, sexual assault, voluntary manslaughter, or even murder.

Misdemeanors in Michigan

A misdemeanor conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career, your educational opportunities, and your freedom. It is wise to take these charges seriously.

Typical Wayne County misdemeanors include drug possession, assault, certain traffic offenses, threats, some domestic violence, indecent exposure, and Driving While Impaired (DWI) offenses.

Michigan misdemeanors are classified into three classes, with High Court misdemeanors being the most serious and misdemeanors punishable for up to 93 days as the least serious.


  • Maximum penalty: 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.


  • Maximum penalty: Up to 1 Year in jail and a $1000 fine.

High Court Misdemeanor

  • Maximum penalty: Up to Two Years in Prison and a $1000 fine.

A Final Word About Detroit Criminal Cases

Remember that criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on your life. You have options and rights and if faced with charges you may wish to at least consider consulting a criminal defense attorney in your area for information specific to your circumstances.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex criminal defense situations usually require a lawyer
  • Defense attorneys can help protect your rights
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many Michigan attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

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