In The News

In The News

Monday, July 17, 2023

All Hands on Deck! The Magistrate Just Denied Bond - What Next?

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Michael J. Nichols

You are in the booking area of the jail waiting for the magistrate to conduct your arraignment. In Michigan, the arraignment is the first step in a criminal case. It is the phase during which the magistrate or district court judge announces the charges against you and then sets the “bond.” Sometimes, the district court will set a “cash” bond and sometimes the bond will include conditions. A “Personal Recognizance” bond is favored now in Michigan law.

In very rare cases, the district court can deny a bond completely – but those cases are rare and only in certain types of charges and situations is the district court (whether it is the magistrate or the district court judge) allowed to deny the accused citizen a bond.

A trend in Michigan lately has been for the district court judges to assign the magistrates to do all of the arraignments but then not give the magistrate any authority to grant any request at all from the attorney for the accused person. This manifested in a manner last May that launched the Nichols Law Firm in to attack mode when a client was denied a bond completely on a charge of attempted home invasion.

So – MCR 6.106; the Michigan Constitution and the Code of Criminal procedure (specifically MCL 774.1, et seq) set forth specific rules and procedures for setting bonds in cases and also appealing the ruling of the District Court. In our nearly-tragic situation, our client, a woman with 2 kids going through a divorce, was charged with a felony that is punishable by a maximum possible penalty of 2.5 years. The magistrate DENIED her a bond completely. When our attorney pleaded with the magistrate that a bond was presumed to be appropriate, the magistrate said “this is what the judge said” – or words to that effect.

With a bond dispute, the attorney can immediately appeal to the court that has appellate jurisdiction to the court that set the bond ruling that “aggrieved” the client. That means the circuit court when we are talking about the 1st appearance on a felony case. Now, this is a Friday and we are damn sure not about to let our client sit in the county jail over Mother’s Day. The bond rules, statutes and caselaw is not so archaic and with our experience, we have been down this road before so the research was not terribly difficult. We got our appeal filed by Friday late morning and got before a Circuit Court judge that afternoon. The Circuit Court Judge did the right thing and our accused citizen was out on a tether for Mother’s Day Weekend.

Everybody – and I mean everybody – pitched in. Sometimes, you just call all hands on deck and get the job done to make sure that the right thing is done in the case.

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.