The 71A District Court processes civil infractions, misdemeanor cases, including traffic misdemeanors, from arraignment through sentencing, and felony cases from arraignment through preliminary examination.
Criminal misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of one year or less in the county jail. Felonies and high court misdemeanors carry the maximum penalty of more than one year in prison.
Traffic tickets are processed by the traffic division of the District Court. Defendants may either admit responsibility and pay the fine; admit responsibility with an explanation in writing the Magistrate or in person; or may deny responsibility and request a hearing. The defendant may request an Informal Hearing with the Magistrate where no attorneys are allowed, or a Formal Hearing before the Judge where the prosecuting official will represent the police officer and the defendant may also have an attorney.
If the defendant elects to pay the ticket, payment must be made with either a check, money order, cash or credit card (additional fee assessed for payments using a credit card), within 28 days of the issuance of the ticket unless the defendant requests an extension from the Court.
Upon payment of the ticket, the information regarding the traffic violation is reported to the Secretary of State which then posts the ticket to the defendant's driving record and assesses the points.
Admitting responsibility with an explanation may be presented in writing to the Magistrate or in person at an informal hearing. The Magistrate will enter your plea of admit responsibility and may adjust the fine. The Magistrate cannot waive or reduce points. Points are assessed by the Secretary of State.
Criminal Case Protocol
All criminal cases begin with your arraignment by a District Court Magistrate. At the arraignment you are advised of the charges filed against you and the maximum penalties if convicted. The Court explains your rights to you and sets your next court date. The Magistrate then determines if you are eligible to be released on bond, and if so, the type of bond and the amount. Conditions will also be attached to your bond.
For those charged with a misdemeanor, their next court date will be a pretrial conference before a District Court Judge. You will have a chance to meet with the prosecuting official before appearing before the Judge. At the pretrial conference you will have an opportunity to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty or no contest). IF you are unable to afford your own attorney, you may request a court appointed attorney from the Judge at your pretrial. If a not guilty plea is entered, it will be set for a trial date with a settlement conference the day before. If you plead guilty or no contest or if you are found guilty by the court, you will be sentenced by that District Court Judge. Sentencing may be done at the time of plea or you may be given a date to return to the Court for sentencing.
For those charged with a felony, or a high court misdemeanor, their next court date will be a preliminary conference before a District Court Judge. You will have a chance to meet with the prosecuting official before appearing before the Judge. At the preliminary conference you will have an opportunity to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty or no contest). In felony cases, you can request a court appointed attorney at your arraignment. If an attorney is appointed to represent you, he or she will be present for the preliminary conference. If a not guilty plea is entered, a date will be set for a preliminary examination. At the preliminary examination, the prosecuting official will present their case against you. If the District Court Judge decides there is sufficient evidence to show you have committed the crime for which you have been charged, the case will be bound over to the 40th Circuit Court. Your next court date will be a Circuit Court arraignment. The case file is sent to Circuit Court where it is given a new case number. At this point, all questions should be directed to the Circuit Court.
Criminal Fines & Costs
All fines, court and other obligations imposed by the Court must be paid at the time of sentencing. Michigan Court Rule 1.110. If for good cause, the Judge does allow you to make a latter payment and that payment is not made, your probation officer will schedule a "Show Cause" hearing for you to appear in front of the Judge.
Payment of all court fees is to be made at the 71A District Court Clerk's Office located on the first floor of the courthouse.
Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.
The Court accepts cash, money orders, personal check, cashier check, and credit cards (additional fees are assessed by the collecting agent for payments used by credit card). Payment may be mailed to the Court. Be sure to include your name and case number written clearly on the money order, personal check or cashier check.