8th DISTRICT COURT
Criminal Division - Misdemeanor Charges*
What is a misdemeanor?
A violation of a law that includes a fine and term of imprisonment as punishment upon conviction. The term of imprisonment associated with misdemeanor charges varies according to the seriousness of the crime; terms of imprisonment range from 90 days to 2 years.
The District Court is authorized to adjudicate (i.e. to determine the guilt or innocence for) misdemeanors that have a maximum term of imprisonment of 1 year or less. Misdemeanors that carry a maximum of more than 1 year of imprisonment are processed like felony charges.
*The Criminal Division of the Court processes all misdemeanors offenses (traffic and criminal) that require judicial review.
The Misdemeanor Process
- Arrest: Typically, the process begins with arrest and incarceration. (There are a few minor misdemeanor offenses that may not involve an arrest, and have a set amount of fines and costs.)
- Interim Release Pending Arraignment: Release from jail may occur when an interim bond is posted, or may follow a bond review hearing wherein the amount of bond, and bond conditions, will be determined. The bond form will state the date and time of the arraignment.
- Arraignment: At this proceeding, a judge or magistrate will read the charges against the defendant-the person charged with the crime-and the defendant will enter a plea in response to the charge (i.e. guilty or not guilty). The next court date will be scheduled according to the plea: following a plea of guilt, sentencing may occur immediately or may be scheduled for a future date to allow for a pre-sentence investigation. If the plea is not guilty, a pretrial hearing will be scheduled.
- Pretrial: The purpose of the pretrial is to prepare for trial. The prosecutor, defendant, and defense counsel (if retained), will be present for the pretrial. A plea of guilt may be submitted at this point, or the matter may proceed to trial, in which case a trial by judge or jury (defendant's choice) will be scheduled.
- Trial: The prosecution and defense will present their evidence to the judge and jury who will determine guilt or innocence. Upon a finding of guilt, sentencing may occur immediately, or may be scheduled for a future date to allow for a pre-sentence investigation.
- Sentence: Following a finding of guilt, the judge in his/her discretion (and in accordance with the law) may impose fines, costs, a term of probation with conditions of probation, and jail time. Payment of fines and costs are due immediately, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
- Reporting Conviction Information: Charges that impact a driving record are reported to the Michigan Dept. of State. If the driver's license was issued by another state, the conviction information will be forwarded to the licensing state. Additionally, crimes carrying a 93-day or greater maximum imprisonment penalty are reported to the Michigan State Police Central Records Division. Convictions to certain crimes may also impact persons employed by, or regularly and continuously working under contract in, a school district - notify the Court if you are employed in that capacity.
- Probation: If a term of probation is imposed, there will be regular reporting to a probation officer as well as expected compliance with all terms of probation. Violation of any of the terms could result in jail time being imposed.