After the defendant is arraigned in the circuit court on the charge of Unlawful Driving Away an Automobile, a Pre-Trial Hearing is conducted in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court located in downtown Ann Arbor, at which point the defense attorney and prosecutor will confer about the case and decide whether to enter a plea agreement or go to trial. The Pre-Trial Hearing usually occurs about 30 days after the Preliminary Examination. Judges that typically handle felony criminal charges in Washtenaw County are Judge Donald Shelton, Judge David Swartz, Judge Melinda Morris, and Judge Archie Brown. These Judges are all very experienced and expect the parties to be prepared every stage of the judicial process. If the parties involved in the case want more time to review the evidence and continue plea negotiations, an adjourned Pre-Trial Hearing can be scheduled about 6-8 weeks in the future. Most Judges insist that the parties either enter a plea or go to trial after this period of time and will often press the parties to make the crucial decision of whether to plead guilty or go to trial.
If the defendant chooses to go to trial in Washtenaw County, he or she can choose whether to have a jury trial or a non-jury trial, subject to the prosecution’s approval. Most defendants in a case of Unlawful Driving Away an Automobile will be given about 2-4 months to prepare for trial. If more preparation time is needed, either party may request it. The trial preparation time involves many hours of record review, witness interviews, expert analysis, and witness preparation. This period of time must be used effectively and efficiently because the Judge will expect the parties to proceed with trial on its scheduled date. The seasoned defense attorney will review every possible issue and every fact in the case to prepare the best possible defense at trial. The basis for an acquittal is usually set during this all important trial preparation phase.