A criminal defendant's first appearance before a judge. The primary purpose is to
inform defendants of what charge they are facing. At that time, the judge will set bond and
any conditions of the defendant's release.
Michigan's highest level trial court, with the broadest range of powers (including
hearing appeals from District Court). Circuit Court has three divisions:
Criminal (the trial court for all felony crimes)
Civil (civil law suits over $25,000.00), and
Family (every aspect of family law, including divorce, child custody, parenting time, paternity, adoption, child and spousal support, domestic violence, PPOs, juvenile delinquency neglect and
abuse, as well as emancipation of minors.)
A court order entered without advance knowledge to one of the parties.
This order is usually entered immediately and the person who is not notified will have a
chance to object to the order at a later date.
A crime carrying a possible maximum jail time of one year or less.
Exception: a high court misdemeanor carries the possibility of up to 2 years in
prison, but is not labeled a felony.
High-court misdemeanors are handled procedurally like a felony.
A District Court evidentiary hearing for felonies where the Prosecutor must present evidence
amounting to at least probable cause that the charged felony crime(s) in fact occurred and
that the defendant committed it (them). Generally, the Prosecutor presents just a
fraction of their total evidence and witnesses. The defendant (or their attorney) can cross-examine
the prosecutor's witnesses, and present their own proofs to refute the prosecutor's evidence.
If the prosecutor meets their burden of proof, the case is sent to Circuit Court for arraignment
on the charge and possible trial.
A scheduled meeting between the Prosecutor and defendant (or defendant's attorney)
generally weeks before the trial date, to discuss possible plea dispositions, trial issues, etc.
The judge does not actively participate in misdemeanor pretrial conferences in
District Court, unless the meeting results in a plea. A Circuit Court judge
may participate in a felony pretrial conference.
A discretionary sentencing option for most misdemeanor and felony convictions where
the defendant avoids some or all incarceration, and is released back into the community
under the supervision of a probation officer for a specific time period, with many
rules to follow. Some rules are standard (i.e., to not violate any more laws), while
others are specific to the defendant or crime (i.e., alcohol counseling when convicted
of Operating Under the Influence Liquor). If the defendant violates any term of probation, the assigned
probation officer (or the Prosecutor) can ask the sentencing judge to impose
A Show Cause is a hearing the court holds to determine if a violation of the
Personal Protection Order has occurred. The hearing means that the petitioner must show a
cause for the Personal Protection Order violation.
A court order requiring a person to appear in court and give testimony as a witness,
and/or to produce documents. An employer cannot act upon or threaten to discharge or
discipline a witness for missing work to testify in court when subpoenaed.