The Arraignment on the Information, also known by its abbreviation as the AOI, is a relatively simple and quick process in Wayne County. The AOI is preceded by a preliminary examination, which occurs in the district court approximately two weeks before the AOI. This is based upon the theory that probable cause must be established by the prosecutor before dragging the criminally accused through the process of a felony case. MCR 6.112(B) states:
Rule 6.112 The Information or Indictment
. . . .
(B) Use of Information or Indictment. A prosecution must be based on an
information or an indictment. Unless the defendant is a fugitive from justice, the
prosecutor may not file an information until the defendant has had or waives a
preliminary examination. An indictment is returned and filed without a preliminary
In many counties across Michigan, the AOI is conducted in the district court immediately following the preliminary examination. This is not how an AOI is conducted in Wayne County, but this practice illustrates how an AOI is pretty straight forward. Quite simply, the Court reads an information which contains the allegations and possible enhancements against the accused, stating on the record what the maximum possible sentence might be for the charge(s) and possible enhancements. In most instances, the defense attorney waives the formal reading, and the AOI judge will accept that waiver, at which time the accused can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or stand mute.
At an AOI conducted in Wayne County, the defendant is typically required to appear before an arraigning judge in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. (Some cases are specially assigned to a trial court judge immediately following the preliminary examination. For example, all capital cases are assigned to a trial judge following the bindover in district court.) A typical AOI will be conducted on the same morning as several other cases before an arraigning judge, and the courtroom will be full in the morning. Several attorneys will appear throughout the morning, and the process might last through the early afternoon. The AOI is usually conducted 14 days after the preliminary examination, but these dates can be moved by an attorney. You can ascertain which AOI judge your cases is assigned to by looking up case information a few days before the scheduled hearing. Look up your case:
The accused might reach a resolution of the case through a plea agreement reached with the prosecutor at the AOI, or he or she might take a “blind draw” which results in the case being assigned to a random trial court judge. AOI judges tend to be light sentencing judges. The arraigning judges at an AOI function as a filter, resolving cases that can be quickly disposed of without need for a trial. Light sentences, probation, and rehabilitation programs are hammered out in negotiations with the prosecutor, inducing many people to accept a plea agreement at a Wayne County AOI.
Despite a relatively simple process, a lot goes on behind the scenes at the AOI. The Michigan Court Rules set forth the various requirements for the Arraignment on the Indictment or Information:
Rule 6.113 The Arraignment on the Indictment or Information
(A) Time of Conducting. Unless the defendant waives arraignment or the court for
good cause orders a delay, or as otherwise permitted by these rules, the court with
trial jurisdiction must arraign the defendant on the scheduled date. The court may
hold the arraignment before the preliminary examination transcript has been
prepared and filed. Unless the defendant demonstrates actual prejudice, failure to
hold the arraignment on the scheduled date is to be deemed harmless error.
(B) Arraignment Procedure. The prosecutor must give a copy of the information to
the defendant before the defendant is asked to plead. Unless waived by the
defendant, the court must either state to the defendant the substance of the charge
contained in the information or require the information to be read to the defendant.
If the defendant has waived legal representation, the court must advise the
defendant of the pleading options. If the defendant offers a plea other than not
guilty, the court must proceed in accordance with the rules in subchapter 6.300.
Otherwise, the court must enter a plea of not guilty on the record. A verbatim
record must be made of the arraignment.
(C) Waiver. A defendant represented by a lawyer may, as a matter of right, enter a
plea of not guilty or stand mute without arraignment by filing, at or before the time
set for the arraignment, a written statement signed by the defendant and the
defendant's lawyer acknowledging that the defendant has received a copy of the
information, has read or had it read or explained, understands the substance of the
charge, waives arraignment in open court, and pleads not guilty to the charge or
(D) Preliminary Examination Transcript. The court reporter shall transcribe and file
the record of the preliminary examination if such is demanded or ordered pursuant
to MCL 766.15.
There are also technical requirements for the information. MCR 6.112(D) states:
(D) Information; Nature and Contents; Attachments. The information must set forth
the substance of the accusation against the defendant and the name, statutory
citation, and penalty of the offense allegedly committed. If applicable, the
information must also set forth the notice required by MCL 767.45, and the
defendant's Michigan driver's license number. To the extent possible, the
information should specify the time and place of the alleged offense. Allegations
relating to conduct, the method of committing the offense, mental state, and the
consequences of conduct may be stated in the alternative. A list of all witnesses
known to the prosecutor who may be called at trial and all res gestae witnesses
known to the prosecutor or investigating law enforcement officers must be attached
to the information. A prosecutor must sign the information.
Finally, the terms and conditions of pretrial release and bond pending trial may be addressed at the AOI. MCR 6.106(H)(2) states:
(2) Modification of Release Decision.
(a) Prior to Arraignment on the Information. Prior to the defendant's
arraignment on the information, any court before which proceedings against
the defendant are pending may, on the motion of a party or its own
initiative and on finding that there is a substantial reason for doing so,
modify a prior release decision or reopen a prior custody hearing.
(b) Arraignment on Information and Afterwards. At the defendant's
arraignment on the information and afterwards, the court having
jurisdiction of the defendant may, on the motion of a party or its own
initiative, make a de novo determination and modify a prior release decision
or reopen a prior custody hearing.
As set forth in MCR 6.106(2)(a), before the AOI, the accused must establish “a substantial reason” for reducing bond. This can be very difficult to prove in the district court. In the circuit court at the AOI, however, the court may “make a de novo determination and modify a prior release decision or reopen a prior custody hearing.” De novo review means that the judge can decide the issue as if the issue is newly brought before the court without any prior determination.