New Law Provides Benefit to Individuals Who Voluntarily Present on Outstanding Warrants

Michigan’s newest jail reforms include significant changes for individuals with outstanding low-level arrest warrants. In commentary included in the Guide to Michigan’s 2020 Jail Reforms it states: “To encourage appearance in court for people with low-level outstanding warrants, the new law requires swift processing, without arrest, of defendants with certain outstanding warrants. . . .” New MCL 762.10d requires an individual, who voluntarily presents in court within one year of the issuance of a warrant, to be arraigned by a judicial officer and have the case set for the next stage of criminal proceedings within two hours of appearance. If a judicial officer is unavailable, the warrant must be recalled and the case scheduled for a future arraignment.  

A defendant’s voluntary action of presenting to the court is taken into consideration under the new law when addressing bond and bond conditions. The new law states there is a presumption that the person is not a flight risk when the court sets bond or other conditions. This presumption is important. MCR 6.106(C) orders the pretrial release of a defendant on personal recognizance unless there is a determination by the court that defendant will fail to appear for court proceedings or an articulable, present danger to the public. MCR 6.106(F)(1)(b) also provides that a defendant’s failure to appear can be taken into consideration when setting bond conditions. The presumption in MCL 762.10d removes one hurdle when arguing for a defendant to be released on a PR bond or when arguing against certain bond conditions.

There are defendants excluded from the benefits of this new procedure. MCL 762.10d(1) specifically excludes any individuals with outstanding warrants for alleged assaultive crimes or offenses involving domestic violence. A full list of offenses considered to be assaultive crimes or crimes involving domestic violence can be found in MCL 762.10d(5). MCL 762.10d(4) further allows the court discretion to exclude any defendant who has benefited from this new procedure in any pending criminal matter.

This new law allows individuals who want to address outstanding warrants to be proactive and know that the courts will be required to address them promptly. Gone are the days where a defendant who voluntarily appears on a warrant has to sit in the county jail for hours waiting to be arraigned. As with all legal matters, it is best to speak with your attorney to evaluate your case, outstanding warrants and whether you can personally benefit under this new procedure.