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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23561
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My brother was arrested in Branch County, MI and he didn't

Customer Question

My brother was arrested in Branch County, MI and he didn't know that he waived his rights to a preliminary hearing. Afterwards courts gave him a public defender. Today they sentenced him. Is that legal? Also PD told my mom today's hearing was just to lower his bond and lied to her. CAN YOU HELP
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.

Hello,

Your brother couldn't have been sentenced unless he took a plea. By definition, taking a plea involves giving up your hearings and trial rights. Did he have a lawyer when he took his plea or for his sentencing? Was the plea not what he wanted? Please give me more information about this by replying to this question thread, so that I can better see what went on and finish the answer.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
He was arrested 3 weeks ago on Domestimate Battery, strangulation, and bodily harm less than murder, he did not have an attorney until a week ago, he was appointed a PD, a couple days ago my mom called the attorney and the attorney told her that the bond was not reduced and that today was a hearing to reduce bond, that it would not be necessary for my mom to show up because it was behind close doors and that my brother would not be there. My brother called my mom and told her that he didn't know he was waiving his preliminary rights hearing and they sentenced him for 5 years on one account and 5 on the other.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 9 months ago.

Thanks for the reply. I still don't understand, because your brother had to have taken a plea or been convicted at trial in order to get sentenced. One doesn't just show up to court for a preliminary hearing and get sentenced to a felony. One gets sentenced to a felony because you either went all the way to trial and lose the case, or you agreed to a plea bargain. Then you come back on the next date in order to be sentenced on the charge(s) you were convicted of or pled to.

So what you are telling me is not what actually happened. It's possible that your brother didn't want his family to know that he'd agreed to take a plea in his case. His lawyer is not required to talk to his client's family and if a defendant specifically asks his lawyer not to tell his family anything at all, that's what the lawyer can do. This case was clearly on for sentencing and not for a bond reduction at all.

Of course, it's also entirely possible that your brother's lawyer made mistakes. There's no way I can tell which, because the information you've given me does not add up which means that either your brother or his lawyer is misinforming you. However, if your brother is unhappy with this deal and feels that his attorney didn't protect his interests and that he'd like to try to overturn his conviction, he's going to need to have a post-conviction attorney. These are criminal lawyers who specialize in appeals and other possible remedies on behalf of clients who have been convicted and sentenced.

There are public defenders who do this sort of law too. He needs to talk to his lawyer and ask him or her to file a notice of appeal to protect his rights. From there, the lawyer can arrange for him to be assigned a free appellate (post-conviction) lawyer, who can look into the record of the case and the court transcript and see if he has a chance at getting his plea back.

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