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The Guide to Bail and Pretrial Release in Northern Michigan

The team at True North Legal Group helps clients at all stages of the criminal process, from investigation through appeal.  One of the earliest processes in the criminal system is arrest and pretrial release.  This guide is designed to help you understand the bail and pretrial release process in Northern Michigan.


Pretrial Arrest

The first step in any criminal court case is for the defendant to be arrested.  Before this can happen, criminal investigators often complete a police report and provide it to the prosecuting attorney’s office for review.  The prosecutor then decides whether the case should be charged.  If charges are authorized, the criminal complaint goes before a judge or magistrate, and an arrest warrant may be issued.

An arrest is a legal document issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement to arrest and detain a specific individual.  It is typically issued when law enforcement presents evidence to the court indicating probable cause that the individual has committed a crime.  The warrant outlines the name of the person to be arrested, the specific crime they are accused of, and any other relevant details.

When a warrant is issued, one of our first tasks is to determine when and how our clients can “turn themselves in.”  This is the process of appearing with local law enforcement to satisfy the arrest warrant.  After you turn yourself in or are arrested, you will be held in jail until you are arraigned and your case can be considered for bail by the judge.


The Arraignment Process in Northern Michigan

When a client is arrested and charged with a felony, the immediate concerns often revolve around securing release from custody while awaiting trial.  In Michigan, like many states, the decision on bail and pretrial release involves several key processes and considerations.  

During your initial arraignment, the judge will accomplish the following:

  • Notification of Charges:  The defendant is informed of the specific charges against them.
  • Legal Representation:  The defendant is advised of his or her right to an attorney and can request a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford one.
  • Bail and Pretrial Release:  The judge will decide whether to grant bail and under what conditions.


Options for Bail and Pretrial Release

In Michigan, bail is the monetary amount set by the court that allows a defendant to be released from custody pending trial.  The purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant appears at all court proceedings and does not pose a risk to public safety.

There are several options for bail and pretrial release, including:

  • Cash Bail:  The defendant can pay the full bail amount in cash or through a bail bond agency to secure release.
  • Personal Recognizance:  Also known as a PR bond, this allows the defendant to be released without posting bail, based on their promise to appear in court.
  • Unsecured Bond:  Similar to a PR bond, but with a financial penalty if the defendant fails to appear.
  • Conditional Release:  The defendant may be released under certain conditions, such as regular check-ins, electronic monitoring, or drug testing.


Key Factors Considered in Bail Decisions

When deciding whether to grant pretrial release and what conditions to impose, judges in Michigan consider several key factors to assess the risk posed by the defendant.  While these factors can vary depending on the circumstances of each case, here are three common considerations:

  • Flight Risk:  The judge will evaluate whether the defendant is likely to flee and not appear for future court dates.  Factors such as ties to the community, employment history, and previous court appearances are considered.
  • Public Safety Risk:  The judge assesses whether releasing the defendant would pose a danger to the community.  This involves reviewing the nature of the charges, any prior criminal history, and any evidence suggesting a risk of harm.
  • Ties to the Community:  Judges consider the defendant's connections to the community, such as family, employment, and length of residency.  Strong ties increase the likelihood of the defendant complying with court orders.


Navigating the post-charging arrest and bail process in Northern Michigan requires a thorough understanding of the legal system and the factors that influence pretrial release decisions.  At True North Legal Group, we work tirelessly to advocate for our client's rights and secure the best possible outcome during this challenging time.

If you or someone you know is facing felony charges in Traverse City or the surrounding area, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel to protect your rights and explore options for bail and pretrial release.  Remember, every case is unique, and having a knowledgeable attorney by your side can make all the difference.