While no criminal charge should be taken lightly, a felony conviction often times results in a jail or prison sentence along with a criminal record that can make life after your conviction difficult. The felony process in Michigan typically involves two different courts. All felony cases begin in district court and the majority of them end up in circuit court.
Once a person is arraigned on a felony matter the court schedules two hearing; a probable cause conference (PCC) and a Preliminary Examination. These hearings both take place at the district court level. At the Probable Cause conference (the first of the two hearings to take place) one of three things can happen:
- The case can be resolved through a misdemeanor plea or outright dismissal of the felony charge(s).
- The preliminary hearing can be waived and the matter can be moved on to circuit court.
- The preliminary hearing can be left on the court docket and remain as scheduled.
If the preliminary hearing remains on the court docket the prosecutor will typically subpoena witnesses to testify at the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is akin to a mini trial where the prosecutor must prove that there is probable cause that the defendant committed the crime(s) they are charged with. The probable cause standard is much less stringent than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard (the threshold to be found guilty when going to trial with either a judge or a jury) and in the case of a preliminary hearing it is up to the district court judge to determine if probable cause exists. However, even thought the preliminary hearing remains as scheduled that doesn’t mean that the preliminary hearing will actually happen. Typically there is still an opportunity to resolve things via a misdemeanor plea or waiver of the preliminary hearing to preserve a plea offer.
If the matter ends up in circuit court via waiver or because it was bound over to circuit court by the district court judge a status conference will be scheduled and take place within four to six weeks. In addition to the scheduling of a status conference, a circuit court judge will also be assigned to the case.
Which judge is assigned to handle your case as well as the prosecutor who prosecutes your case are just two of the many variables facing you when you are charged with a felony in Michigan. However, when you hire the West Michigan Defense Team you can be certain that you are hiring a firm with the experience, knowledge, and expertise to tackle any type of felony matter. Call us today at (616) 456-5457 to schedule your initial consultation.
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